Norwich City 2 Hannover 96 3
PUBLISHED: 16:48 30 July 2016 | UPDATED: 20:59 30 July 2016
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Wes Hoolahan’s second half double failed to prevent a 3-2 defeat in Norwich City’s final pre-season warm-up against Hannover 96 on Saturday at Carrow Road.
Hoolahan’s brace was the highlight for Alex Neil’s squad, who paid for a sluggish start that saw them 2-0 down inside 10 minutes to the German Bundesliga Two outfit.
Artue Sobiech and Sebastien Maier pounced on slack marking down the City right before Sobiech added a third five minutes after the interval. Hoolahan’s flurry hauled Norwich back into the friendly but the hosts were unable to complete the comeback.
Neil retained four starters from the midweek 3-0 friendly win over Coventry City with Jonny Howson, Steven Whittaker, Martin Olsson and Hoolahan joined by what appeared a far stronger XI with the Championship opener at Blackburn in mind next week.
John Ruddy was restored to number one with Timm Klose and Ryan Bennett in central defence and Steven Naismith supporting Cameron Jerome in a repeat of their coupling against Rubin Kazan seven days earlier.
The likes of Sergi Canos, Louis Thompson and Michael Turner were part of a Norwich XI on duty at Dartford on Saturday afternoon but there was no place in the matchday squad for Republic of Ireland international Robbie Brady, who returned to the club in Austria following an extended break after his Euro 2016 exploits.
City suffered an early setback when the Germans moved the ball quickly across the home penalty area before Jacob Murphy failed to track the run of Miiko Albornoz who cut a cross back anticipated by Sobiech who guided past Ruddy from six yards.
Jonny Howson required treatment to his left ankle area after a block tackle but the key midfielder was able to continue.
City suffered another painful blow in the context of a final pre-season warm up affair when Maier was left unmarked to slot Felix Klaus’ cross past Ruddy in the 10th minute; Norwich again exposed down their right flank.
Neil reacted with an early substitution that saw Graham Dorrans replace Jacob Murphy and Howson switch wider to the right in a bid to offer Steven Whittaker extra protection.
Hannover’s high press and comfort in possession had unsettled the hosts in the opening quarter but Hoolahan’s nutmeg on halfway freed the overlapping Olsson to earn a corner the Germans cleared but the intent was far better from Neil’s men.
Norwich fashioned their best opening of the half when Jerome rose above the Hannover keeper only to glance a header over from Dorrans’ corner.
Ruddy went full length to claw away Maier’s goalbound hit to underline the Germans’ threat on the counter before Naismith sprang the offside trap but sliced a right-footed shot off-target.
Neil made a second change at the interval with Ivo Pinto replacing Whittaker. But the pattern remained unaltered with Ruddy down smartly to halt Klaus in the 49th minute.
The City stopper could do nothing about Sobiech’s second a minute later when he guided a left-footed effort into his top corner after the Norwich defence spurned numerous chances to clear their lines.
Hoolahan hit back immediately with a second goal in consecutive friendlies when he coolly rounded the last man and dinked a chip over the diving Philipp Tschauner from inside the six-yard-box.
Flush with that success the Dubliner pounced again in the 58th minute, bursting into the German area again before sitting down Tschauner and finishing from a tight angle.
Ruddy again, however, was required to deny Iver Fossum from point blank range after Pinto failed to track the Hannover midfielder.
Dorrans sparked a superb counter in the 70th minute with a raking crossfield pass fired at Naismith who linked with the back-heeling Hoolahan only to drag his right-footed side wide of the near post.
Neil made four changes for the final 10 minutes, including an early finish for the two-goal Irishman and the introduction of Kyle Lafferty for his second pre-season outing in a week.
City were forced into another change before the end when Dorrans pulled up with a what appeared a groin problem to be replaced by Youssouf Mulumbu.
• Norwich City: Ruddy, Whittaker (Pinto 45), Olsson (Toffolo 81), Klose, Bennett, Jacob Murphy (Dorrans 19, Mulumbu 85), Howson, Tettey, Hoolahan (Maddison 81), Naismith (Josh Murphy 81), Jerome (Lafferty 81). Subs: (not used): McGovern, Bassong, Andreu.
• Goals: Hoolahan (52, 58)
• Hannover 96: Tschauner, Albornoz (Hubers 87), Schmiedebach, Sobiech (Benschop 81), Maier (Prib 69), Klaus, Harnik (Karaman 59), Fossum, Hubner, Sorg (Arkenberg 76), Anton. Sub (not used): Sahin-Radlinger.
• Goals: Sobiech (5, 50), Maier (10)
• Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambs)