Norwich 5-1 Nottingham Forest: Canaries continue play-off push
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 11/02/17 6:56pm
Norwich maintained their push for the Sky Bet Championship play-offs as three goals in the space of eight first-half minutes inspired them to a thumping 5-1 home win over Nottingham Forest.
Jonny Howson's 10th-minute piledriver opened the floodgates at Carrow Road, with Josh Murphy quickly adding a second from a tight angle before Wes Hoolahan lobbed in a third from well outside the box.
The Canaries, who have won six of their last seven home games, added two more goals in the second half, with Alex Pritchard scoring them both, and Forest's only consolation was a well-taken goal for on-loan substitute Ross McCormack.
It was a miserable day all round for the visitors, with keeper Stephen Henderson being carried off just after Norwich's third goal, and skipper Eric Lichaj being sent off midway through the second half for a second booking.
After a low-key start the game burst into life in spectacular fashion in the 10th minute when a Norwich corner from the right was only half-cleared. The lofted header fell to Howson some 25 yards out and the midfielder connected perfectly on the volley to send a screamer into the top corner, with keeper Henderson a mere spectator.
That magic moment got the in-form Canaries into their stride and within eight minutes they were three up, thanks to two more goals in little over a minute.
A good advantage from referee Scott Duncan allowed Norwich to mount a swift raid down the right, with Wes Hoolahan picking out Josh Murphy, who finished from a tight angle. Then, from their very next attack, Hoolahan spotted Henderson off his line and coolly lobbed the keeper from all off 30 yards.
It quickly became apparent that Henderson had picked up an injury and he needed several minutes of treatment before being carried off, with Jordan Smith coming on as his replacement.
Forest did not know what had hit them, and it took a goal-line clearance from Zach Clough to prevent a looping header from Russell Martin from making it four just after the half hour mark, with Norwich claiming the ball had crossed the line.
Smith then spilt an Oliveira shot, with only a desperate last-ditch clearance preventing another goal, while at the other end there was a rare moment of concern for the Canaries just before the break when Danny Fox's header clipped the outside of the post.
With little put pride to play for, Forest started the second period brightly, with Clough firing high a wide after a neat crossfield move, but it was Norwich who stretched their lead on the hour mark.
Pritchard was granted the freedom of Carrow Road by a backpedalling defence and ran through unchallenged before planting a low shot past Smith.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the 70th minute when skipper Lichaj was shown a second yellow card for a late tackle on Murphy. But at least they got a goal to show for their efforts four minutes later when McCormack latched on to a perfectly waited through ball from Clough before lifting the ball over John Ruddy.
Norwich dominated after that and finally added a fifth two minutes from time when Pritchard curled the ball from outside the box following more poor Norwich defending.
Norwich boss Alex Neil:
"I was delighted with that. We have played some excellent football, scored five goals and could have had seven, eight or nine with all the chances we created.
"I always thought this would be a good, footballing game and that is why I decided to play both Wes Hoolahan and Alex Pritchard. I was counting on them going out there and causing havoc with the quality they have got and that is exactly what happened.
"That's five home wins on the trot now, which is very pleasing, while we have also taken four points from our last two away matches. The level of our performances has also improved and if we keep on going like this we will be in the play-off positions soon."
Nottingham Forest boss Gary Brazil:
"It was a tough afternoon, I won't deny it. You could see the quality in the Norwich squad and there were two exceptional finishes in the first half. Then we lose our goalkeeper and have our captain sent off so it was one of those days for us.
"At least we kept going in the second half, we didn't just fold, and Ross McCormack scored a good goal and showed what he can do for us. But it was obviously a bad result for us and now we need to show what we are all about by bouncing back at Fulham on Tuesday night."