CITY 1 NORWICH 1
Report by Eddie Blount
All good things come to an end and so it was that City partially fell at the ninth hurdle against an organised, spirited and skilful Norwich side whose performance totally belied their second-bottom league position. They have attracted some good references in spite of their relegation candidates tag and you have to admit that they were full value for the precious point they gained at the King Power, only the second team so far this season to take away a point from the Foxes’ fortress. City certainly were some way short of their best but credit to the visitors for their determination and tactical nous.
City started with the side that won so handsomely at Villa last time out but it was soon obvious that something was amiss as Norwich more than matched City for good chances in the early stages. Chilwell blocked a superb strike from close range and top scorer Pukki should have done better with a cross to the far post which he managed to slide wide.
At the other end a shot from Tielemans from just outside the area was fumbled on to the post by keeper Krul who had moments of uncertainty throughout. It did not come as a great surprise when the Canaries took the lead after 26 minutes when Pukki pulled away from Soyuncu and Buendi threaded an excellent pass into the gap leaving Pukki with a clear run on goal. This time he finished clinically with a shot across Schmeichel into the far corner of the net.
This was to be Norwich’s preferred attacking alternative and was one of three occasions when Pukki got clear, the other two coming in the second half with both sides pressing for the decider. On the first of these Soyuncu did very well to get back and make a saving tackle and shortly afterwards a combination of Soyuncu and Ricardo foiled the Finnish striker who apparently played the second half with a broken toe!
City reacted well to going behind and just before we equalised we were treated to a handbags contest involving nearly all the players. A Norwich player went down seemingly having taken a knock and they put the ball out of play. The player was treated, we took the throw which went to Iheanacho. He was clearly not sure what to do with the ball and hesitated with Norwich defenders waiting for him to observe the usual protocol. To everyone’s surprise he embarked on a dribble across the edge of their box and was promptly upended then surrounded by both sets of players in a ritualistic melee. VAR decided there was no red card offence and Maddison deliberately put the free kick out for a goal kick
Almost immediately afterwards City were level when a Maddison corner was flicked on at pace by Vardy and finished in the roof of the net. At first it seemed that the striker had managed to score for the ninth successive premiership game but replays showed that his header would have gone narrowly wide but had been deflected home by the flailing right hand of the Norwich keeper. My wife was completely bemused by the BBC teletext reaction to the clarification, the score going from 1-1 Vardy back to 0-1 and then after a chilling wait onto 1-1 Krul o.g!
Whilst all this was occurring Rodgers was patiently waiting to make a substitution, Gray for Iheanacho. This was clearly an attempt to give City another body in midfield where our four (4-4-2) were out-numbered by their five (4-5-1). This change in formation led to the unlikely switching of Tielemans to wide (actually widish) left which never looked right – in every sense! – and was rectified at half time when Praet gave way to Barnes and Tielemans reverted to a more central role
The second half was even in every sense, either side could have pinched it and a share of the spoils was a very fair outcome. Pukkis’s opportunities were matched by the irrepressible Vardy who came close on more than one occasion, even hitting the post from an incredibly wide angle after rounding Krul. It was not to be City’s day and for the first time in home matches this season it was difficult to nominate a Man of the Match. If pressed I would give it to the admirably consistent Ndidi.
Finally a word of praise for the Norwich supporters who turned out in great numbers and were commendably vocal throughout even applauding Maddison when he went over to salute them at the end. Shows what can happen when you kick off at 3pm on a Saturday!
Our next home match is on Boxing Day at 8 pm which is disgraceful and a serious mistake by the powers that be for what on paper is the game of the season at the King Power!
City: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Ndidi, Tielemans, Praet (Barnes 46), Maddison, Iheanacho (Gray 39), Vardy
Norwich: Krul, Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfey, Byram, Tetty, Trybull (Stiepermann 86), Buendia (Vrancic 90), McLean, Cantwell (Hernandez 85), Pukki
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation