It's another Pukki party at Carrow Road as Canaries snatch dramatic win over Bolton to stay top
Norwich City just cannot be stopped – with another wonderful Carrow Road moment sparked by an injury-time winner from star striker Teemu Pukki cruelly denying Bolton’s valiant fightback, and keeping the Canaries top of the league.
Mario Vrancic had thumped the Canaries in front six minutes before half-time with his third goal of the season and Marco Stiepermann doubled the lead before the hour mark, only for Sammy Ameobi to keep things interesting.
Then a succession of long balls into the box caused the home defence to panic and defender Mark Beevers was able to slam home at the back post in the 88th minute.
But a 12th league goal of the campaign from that man Pukki, lashed home in front of the Barclay in the third minute of injury-time, sent the home crowd into delirious celebrations – as City stayed top of the table.
The victory sealed five home wins on the spin for Norwich for the first time since the early stages of the 2016-17 campaign under Alex Neil and also continued the longest unbeaten run of Daniel Farke’s reign.
The German’s side are now unbeaten in nine league games and have won an exceptional 12 of their last 15 Championship matches.
The Canaries retained the same team which beat Rotherham 3-1 at Carrow Road the previous weekend, with Onel Hernandez fit enough to return on the bench. However, there was a late change to the team as Ben Godfrey had to step in for Timm Klose after the warm-up.
There were a few signs of early nerves from Godfrey and a poor clearance from a cross allowed Jason Lowe to thump a low shot from 25 yards which Tim Krul saved but parried into open play, causing City to scramble clear.
The lowly visitors were playing without pressure and enjoying themselves, with Vrancic not tracking Sammy Ameobi and the big man playing in Will Buckley, only for the winger to fire wide under pressure from Max Aarons.
The Canaries calmed things down and Marco Stiepermann saw a low shot parried by Bolton keeper Ben Alnwick in the 18th minute, with Aarons’ shot deflected wide.
Soon after Alex Tettey headed wide when unmarked at the back post from an Emi Buendia corner and Todd Cantwell curled wide from the edge of the box.
Vrancic dropped his shoulder in the 34th minute and similarly curled beyond the top-right corner and Stiepermann’s drilled low shot was denied by the feet of Alnwick three minutes later.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 39th minute though when Buendia, announced as City’s player of the month before kick-off, spread a volleyed pass to Aarons on the right.
The full-back quickly teed up Vrancic on the edge of the box and the midfielder thumped a low right-footed shot which found the bottom-right corner and sparked Carrow Road into life before the break.
A Tettey piledriver from close range was well blocked by Christian Doidge in the 53rd minute and soon after Buendia robbed Joe Williams in the Bolton box but Alnwick was down well to hold the low shot.
The second the hosts needed came just before the hour and it came from classic Tettey midfield work, robbing Ameobi midway in the Bolton half.
From there Jamal Lewis threaded Vrancic into the left channel and the midfielder nudged the ball into Stiepermann’s path and the German lashed into the bottom-left corner from 10 yards for 2-0.
However, the visitors were soon back in the game.
A cleared cross into the City box was hooked back into the area by left-back Andrew Taylor and Ameobi was free to slam home from close range and keep the game alive as a contest.
Vrancic lashed over after tenacious play from Cantwell kept an attack going in the 69th minute, with Buendia teeing up the shot but the effort bending beyond the far post.
The South Stand thought Stiepermann had scored again in the 75th minute after good play from Cantwell but the ball had struck the goal support behind the goal before nestling behind the net.
Moments later a wonderful Vrancic pass had Teemu Pukki clean through but the striker couldn’t bring the ball under his spell and was crowded out.
Joe Williams dragged a long-range shot wide as the visitors kept battling, with substitute striker Josh Magennis unsettling the Canaries’ defence.
The long balls kept coming and Norwich crumbled under the pressure, with a scramble eventually seeing the ball breaak to Beevers at the back post, who slammed home before celebrating with huge relief.
You just cannot leave Carrow Road early this season though, with Ameobi earning his second yellow for a stupid pull of the shirt as Cantwell tried to counter.
Then, in the third minute of added time, from that free-kick Cantwell eventually sent a cross in from the left, which Taylor controlled poorly under pressure from Jordan Rhodes, to allow Pukki to lash home the loose ball from 15 yards and send the stadium into chaotic celebrations – just like last month’s 4-3 win over Millwall.
It was Pukki’s seventh goal in seven games, fresh from being nominated for the Championship’s player of the month. Even if the Finn had been quiet overall, he was in the right place at the right time to delight the Canaries faithful.
The Canaries return to action next weekend with a trip to Bristol City, for a 5.30pm kick-off which is being televised live on Sky Sports.
Norwich: Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Lewis; Tettey (C), Vrancic; Buendia (Hernandez 83), Stiepermann (Rhodes 87), Cantwell; Pukki (Srbeny 90+6). Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Klose, Trybull, Marshall
Booked: Vrancic (foul on Williams, 86)
Goals: Vrancic (39), Stiepermann (59), Pukki (90+3)
Bolton: Alnwick (C); Olkowski (O’Neil 78), Hobbs, Beevers, Taylor; Williams, Lowe; Ameobi, Noone (Dyer 60), Buckley (Magennis 71); Doidge. Unused subs: Williams (GK), Wheater, Vela, Wilson
Booked: Ameobi (foul on Cantwell, 14), O’Neil (handball, 84)
Sent off: Ameobi (second yellow, foul on Cantwell, 90+2)
Goals: Ameobi (63), Beevers (88)
Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland)