Norwich City 3, Parma 0
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Norwich City ended their pre-season campaign in style with a convincing victory against Parma at Carrow Road on Saturday afternoon.
A close range strike by Grant Holt saw the Canaries go in at half time a goal ahead but it was Andrew Surman who stole the show in the second period with a brace to see off a Parma side that offered little going forward.
City supporters will be hoping their side can maintain this kind form against Wigan next weekend on the opening day of the Premier League season although Roberto Matinez’s side are likely to provide a sterner test than the Italians posed.
Norwich boss Paul Lambert offered fans a glimpse as to just who might make up the starting XI for City’s Premier League opener although an injury in the warm up for Russell Martin deprived the former Peterborough man of a start.
Kyle Naughton slotted in seamlessly on the right side of defence with Zak Whitbread getting the nod alongside Ritchie De Laet and Marc Tierney on the left.
David Fox was at the base of the diamond in midfield, flanked by Elliott Bennett and Surman while Wes Hoolohan took up his normal position at the tip.
Lambert put his faith in the strike force that helped secure their promotion last season with Simeon Jackson restored to the starting line-up alongside skipper Holt.
The pair linked up well in the first period and their understanding almost saw City get their noses in front in the 13th minute but Holt’s snapshot was blocked after the Canadian’s smart lay-off.
For all the Canaries’ sharp passing football it was a long ball over the top that should have seen them go in front. Jackson gave chase to Elliott Bennett’s long punt forward and the striker capitalised on some hesitation in the Italians’ defence to steal the ball from former Liverpool centre half Gabriel Paletta.
Jackson then almost had too much time to pick his spot in a one-on-one situation with Mirante and the shotstopper saved well with his feet.
Bennett was in impressive form in the first period, showing a willingness to come in off the right flank and join in with the play. Just after the half hour mark his 25-yard effort had Mirante scrambling but the ball swerved just wide at the last moment.
But in the 34th minute City hit the front thanks to Holt’s predatory instinct. Naughton’s cross from the right took a big deflection and looped into the path of the City skipper who sidefooted home from close range despite Mirante’s best efforts.
Parma didn’t quite know how to handle the former Shrewsbury man and seemed intimidated by his physical prowess.
Five minutes before the break he shrugged off two defenders in the centre circle with ease before releasing a perfect pass for Jackson to run on to but once again Mirante won the battle of wits and saved well.
City made a triple substitution early in the second half with Leon Barnett, Anthony Pilkington and Bradley Johnson introduced for Whitbread, Jackson and Bennett.
This saw City adopt a 4-5-1 formation with Johnson and Fox sitting in front of the back four and Hoolahan playing off Holt. Pilkington on the right and Surman on the left provided the width but as City came to terms with their new system Parma suddenly developed an attacking threat.
The talented Giovinco forced Ruddy to tip over in the 55th minute and shortly after Pelle dragged his shot wide when well placed.
However, Holt remained a constant thorn in the side of the Parma back line and his deflected cross almost doubled Norwich’s advantage after an hour.
The City faithful didn’t have to wait long though to see their side extend their lead when Hoolahan’s pass ricocheted into the path of Holt, who advanced into the Parma penalty area before laying the ball off to Surman to sweep home from 12 yards.
Pelle almost reduced the arrears with sharp header but Ruddy was down smartly to save.
Chris Martin was given a run-out in the 71st minute in place of Hoolahan after shrugging off a hamstring strain picked up in pre-season while Steve Morison came on for Holt. Drury took the armband in place of Tierney.
C Martin was brought down on the edge of the area and on another occasion Paletta could have seen red for denying a goalscoring opportunity. Pilkington curled the free kick over the bar.
A stiff challenge by Johnson on Stefano Morrone prompted a bit of handbags from either side but referee Mike Oliver managed to calm the situation quickly.
Surman rounded off a fine afternoon’s work for the Canaries when he flicked home with the outside of his left foot from close range after good work from Pilkington.
• Norwich City: Ruddy, Naughton, De Laet, Whitbread (Barnett, 51), Tierney (Drury, 70), Fox, Hoolahan (C Martin, 70), Surman, Bennett (B Johnson, 51), Holt (Morison, 70), Jackson (Pilkington, 51). Subs not used: Rudd, K Smith, Lappin, Wilbraham.
Goals: Holt (34), Surman (62, 86)
• Parma: Mirante, Felstcher, Morrone (Nwankwo, 79), Zaccardo, Lucarelli, Giovinco, Borini (Modesto, 61), Paletta, Ze’Eduardo (Coppola, 85), Valiani, Pelle (Biabiany, 74). Subs not used: Pavarini, Galloppa, Crespo, Brandao, Blasi, Sansone, Abderrazak, Santcroce.
• Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
• Attendance: 13,067