Paddy Davitt verdict: Dancing feet and attacking verve push City to greater heights
PUBLISHED: 14:54 11 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:54 11 November 2018
It has been a while since dancing and dynamite finales were on the agenda at Carrow Road.
Actually it might not be quite as long as you think. Only last season in fact, when Timm Klose rose to crash home Grant Hanley’s cross to deny Ipswich Town the elusive derby victory they crave.
But that outpouring of raw emotion and ecstasy was all about salvaging neighbourly pride, and retaining the bragging rights between two rivals moored in the middle of the Championship.
What transpired against Millwall was no less spine tingling yet when the dust settled on a remarkable comeback City were perched right at the top of tree; proudly looking down on the rest.
Those two results, and the backdrop in terms of league status, tell you how far Daniel Farke and his rapidly improving squad have travelled.
You can savour the character, the energy and the force of nature - both on and off the terraces - that swept away the Lions to deny Neil Harris’ men a first away win of the season.
You can even marvel again at the obdurate streak in a group of players who seemingly never know when to quit.
But we have seen all those traits already on this Championship ascent. What really stood out, even above Alex Tettey’s swivelling hips and Daniel Farke’s triumphant tour of the Carrow Road playing surface, was the sheer quality of Norwich’s attacking work.
Remember those endless sterile displays on home soil during his debut season in England, when the patient passing was unable to produce the punch? They are a distant memory now.
City can counter with devastating intent or carve teams open with surgical precision and progressive passing.
Just study each of the four goals that sunk Millwall; a second consecutive weekend when they produced the same productive haul, let the records show.
Trailing by Tom Elliott’s powerful leap at the interval, and with a goal unjustly disallowed in the view of Farke, Norwich simply moved through the gears within four minutes of the restart.
Onel Hernandez’s cheeky flick freed Marco Stiepermann to drive goalwards, before a pinpoint delivery anticipated by Teemu Pukki, who still had it all to do as he contorted his body to snap a sidefooted finish past Ben Amos at his near post.
For a fraction of a second, those at the other end of the ground may have felt Pukki’s effort had brushed the side netting, such was the trigonometry involved in the narrowing angles.
But the explosion of noise told you different.
It was a clinical, devastating counter punch, from Hernandez’s imagination to Pukki’s near post dart.
But there was better to come. Moritz Leitner may not possess the goalscoring instincts of James Maddison - although direct comparisons are now irrelevant given his deeper deployment - but he certainly has comparable talent.
The chest control and then his body shape to unleash a fizzing, vicious half volley that singed the back of Amos’ net was a scintillating intervention.
In the ensuing maelstrom, Norwich displayed a lapse in defensive composure not once but twice that we have seldom seen on this upward curve.
Jamal Lewis and Tim Krul were both heavily punished for errors that serve as a reminder how thin the margins are at this level.
Yet the response was thrilling and calculated in equal measure.
The excellent Emi Buendia threaded a ball through a posse of blue shirts to the newly introduced Jordan Rhodes, who turned and coolly slotted in one flowing motion. Another foray of the highest order in its creation and execution.
Farke had also turned to Mario Vrancic during a breathless finale to help turn the tide and the Bosnian responded; a quick glance in his side mirrors before the perfectly weighted pass for Pukki.
Jake Cooper’s desperate lunging challenge may have ricocheted the ball against the Finn’s left ankle, but Phil Mickleson would have been proud of the delicate chip over the grounded Amos conjured with the striker’s second touch.
Let us not forget, Pukki has form.
Recall the improvised chested finish at QPR that Steve McClaren claimed was a not a proper goal. You make your own luck, as the saying goes, and Norwich deserve any going in a thrilling march to the Championship summit.
It may take a warm weather camp in Tampa this week and the rest of the international break for all concerned to take stock and recover from the emotional and physical excess of a day that will live long in the memory.
Whatever the rest of this season now holds.