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Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Monday, July 28, 2014
Norwich City had too much attacking power for OGC Nice in another goal-laden pre-season affair for the Canaries in Monday’s Carrow Road homecoming.
Neil Adams’ side looked capable of scoring at will in the opening period before easing off the throttle in the second period. Nathan Redmond and Lewis Grabban notched inside the opening ten minutes before Dario Cvitanich reduced the arrears from the penalty spot. Bradley Johnson’s thumping free kick was more reflective of the hosts’ dominance before Andrew Surman moved Adams’ men out of sight prior to the interval and Elliott Bennett put the gloss on another encouraging close season affair.
Gary Hooper missed out as a precaution with City nursing knocks to strikers Kyle Lafferty and Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Alex Tettey and Martin Olsson were also notable absentees with Adams drafting in the likes of Carlton Morris, Reece Hall-Johnson and Kyle McFadden to a youthful substitutes’ bench.
Grabban made his first start at Carrow Road for his new club with Redmond pushed up top and Wes Hoolahan at the tip of a midfield diamond anchored by Johnson.
Redmond turned on the after burners in the first minute but Mouez Hassen claimed a regulation catch at his near post.
The 20-year-old looked firmly in the mood and opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a quality slot, instantly controlling Johnson’s pass on his chest and guiding an angled finish beyond Hassen.
Grabban’s movement and mobility across the frontline was a notable feature of the opening period and it was little surprise he opened his goal account in the ninth minute when he anticipated Surman’s swept pass to slot from close range.
Paulin Puel hacked well over John Ruddy’s bar in the 17th minute in a rare moment of respite for the French visitors who were simply unable to check City’s fluidity through midfield.
Cvitanich collected a fortuitous ricochet against Surman but Steven Whittaker was around on the cover to sense the danger.
Paulin Puel then unleashed a right foot strike from the edge of the Norwich area that brushed Whittaker and drifted behind but Johnson needed to be alert to clear from underneath his own bar after Ruddy spilled the set piece.
Nice were handed a way back into the friendly, literally, when Russell Martin was adjudged to have handled inside the area and Cvitanich coolly rifled past Ruddy.
Hoolahan tried to restore some order with a penetrative burst that ended with a crude lunge from Nice captain Gautier Lloris before Johnson punished the visitors with a thumping 25-yard free kick that clipped a French defender and nestled in the bottom right-hand corner of Hassen’s goal.
Surman was the latest to have his route to goal blocked in the immediate aftermath, but Hoolahan failed to match the precision of his team mate five yards nearer the Nice goal.
City looked capable of slicing through a porous French rearguard at will with Grabban pivoting to release Redmond who cut in on his right but unleashed a rising strike into the Lower Barclay.
Surman crafted an inviting ball down the channel for his ex-Cherries’ team mate but the cut-back for Hoolahan allowed Niklas Hult to intercept.
Elliott Bennett tried to gatecrash the attacking party four minutes from the interval with a cute inside pass that just evaded Grabban who looked set to test Hassen.
Norwich’s dominance was underlined when they added a fourth before the break – Redmond cutting loose to embarrass Romain Genevois with a turn of foot down the left before a near post roll diverted by Surman past Hassen.
Elliott Bennett tried his luck from a free kick on the restart but Hassen parried over the top although the early sparring carried none of the ferocity of City’s first half onslaught.
Grabban made way for Jamar Loza to appreciative applause from the home fans before Elliott Bennett powered through to notch a fifth just past the hour mark with an unerringly accurate low finish. Hoolahan exited for Anthony Pilkington as Adams’ continued to shuffle his options.
Ruddy gathered a tame effort from Cvitanich before Martin’s errant pass created a chance for the same man but his low right-foot dig thudded against the foot of the England international’s right-hand post.
Ruddy’s involvement scaled new heights in the 74th minute when he had to kick away Hult’s low angled shot. Pilkington looked to up the ante again with an inviting whipped cross Loza was unable to control.
McFaddden was the latest City academy prospect to make his senior bow for Whittaker in the closing stages with Morris also on for Johnson and the Republic of Ireland youth international’s arrival triggering a positional change for Martin before Hall-Johnson and Jacob Murphy completed the full set of young guns to enter the fray from the club’s FA Youth Cup success under Adams in 2013.
Javier Garrido bailed out Ruddy again in the final seconds when the home keeper spilled another corner.
• Norwich City: Ruddy, Whittaker (McFadden 79), Martin, Turner (R Bennett 68), Garrido, Johnson (Morris 72), E Bennett (Hall-Johnson 84), Surman (Jacob Murphy 87), Hoolahan (Pilkington 61), Redmond (Josh Murphy 64), Grabban (Loza 56). Sub (not used): Rudd.
• Goals: Redmond (5), Grabban (9), Johnson (30), Surman (44), E Bennettt (61)
OGC Nice (starting line up): Hassen, Lloris, Cvitanich, Hult, G Puel, Amavi, P Puel, Mendy, Bodmer, Genevois, Koziello.
• Goal: Cvitanich (25)
• Referee: Darren Deadman
• Attendance: 7,327