Blackburn 0-1 Norwich City: Canaries leave it late again as Pukki punishes Rovers
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Teemu Pukki did it again as his latest late winner sent Norwich City back to the top of the Championship with a resilient 1-0 win at a rugged Blackburn Rovers.
Moritz Leitner’s introduction was the only change as Mario Vrancic dropped to the bench, while Grant Hanley and Onel Hernandez were left to wait for their starting return as Daniel Farke kept faith with Ben Godfrey and Todd Cantwell respectively.
However Rovers’ robust approach soon had an effect, with Emi Buendia withdrawn after just 21 minutes following Richie Smallwood’s late challenge in the early exchanges; Hernandez coming on in his place.
Leitner was also on the end of some difficult attention – and he failed to reappear after the break with Vrancic coming on.
Injuries and bookings were in plentiful supply in the first half – but not so much chances.
Adam Armstrong came as close as anyone for Rovers; being set away by Bradley Dack and cutting inside, only to drive beyond Tim Krul’s far post.
Pukki had City’s clearest sights – both coming from Cantwell’s good work. However, his first was lifted into the side-netting from a tricky angle, while his second effort rolled wide as the Finnish international tried to sort his feet and shoot early.
Rovers had the better of things immediately after the break, Darragh Lenihan heading over a pair of corners as the hosts muscled their way through the game.
However, it was Norwich who came closest to breaking the deadlock on 70 minutes – Godfrey’s bullet header from Vrancic’s cross tipped over brilliantly by Rovers goalkeeper David Raya.
Both sides had good opportunities as the game opened up in the last 10 minutes, with the 1,300 traveling City supporters in excellent voice throughout.
And then it came. Not for the first time this season, City won it all three points late on – 86 minutes to be precise, as Vrancic and Hernandez combined superbly for Pukki to slot home his 14th goal of the season, and sent Norwich back to the top of the Championship for an evening at least.
• ROVERS (4-2-3-1): Raya; Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew (c, Williams 46), Bell; Evans (Palmer 61), Smallwood; Reed, Dack, Armstrong (Brereton 73); Graham. Subs (not used): Leutwiler (GK), Rodwell, Rothwell, Downing. Goals: None; Booked: Evans, Smallwood.
• CITY (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Lewis; Tettey (c), Leitner (Vrancic 46); Buendía (Hernandez 21), Stiepermann, Cantwell; Pukki (Rhodes 90+2). Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Marshall, Hanley, Srbeny. Goals: Pukki 86; Booked: Hernandez, Leitner, Cantwell.
• Referee: Darren ENGLAND; Attendance: 14,202 (away: 1,272).
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