Dowell 30, 64, Quintilla 78 & Pukki 85
NORWICH CITY ARE CHAMPIONS!
- Credit: Tony Thrussell/Archant
Norwich City's 4-1 win over Reading at Carrow Road has seen them crowned champions of the Championship.
A brace for Kieran Dowell and a sublime Xavi Quintilla free-kick secure the title for Daniel Farke's men in a clash where they wrestled control in the second half to win. Teemu Pukki's late goal added gloss to the celebrations, after the Finn profited from a poor backpass from Reading defender Tom Holmes.
It was actually the Royals who took the lead after 12 minutes when Josh Laurent nodded home from a deep Michael Olise free-kick. From there, City worked through the gears before storming their way to the title.
Watford's 2-0 defeat at Brentford capped off an afternoon of celebrations for City, who popped the corks of the champagne to kick-start the party in NR1 after the final whistle.
Farke has become the first City boss to win two league titles for the club at this level.
City's boss elected to name an unchanged matchday squad from the side who comfortably beat QPR 3-1 at Loftus Road last week. Quintilla filled in for the suspended Dimitris Giannoulis, who was serving the final game of his three-match suspension.
Reading were without captain Liam Moore and midfielder Andy Rinomhota for the trip to Carrow Road. Manager Veljko Paunovic handed highly-rated academy midfielder Dejan Tetek his senior debut in the engine room in one of three changes for the Royals.
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Championship Young Player of the Year Olise returned to the starting XI and Everton defender Gibson replaced Moore in the heart of the defence.
Prior to kick-off, Emi Buendia was presented with his Player of the Season award by majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones.
A mistake from Gibson gifted Buendia a run at goal early on. The Argentine dispossessed the Toffees loanee before surging into the area, but his right-footed shot lacked conviction and went well wide.
The Royals started with plenty of energy and got their just rewards after 12 minutes when Laurent nodded Michael Olise's deep free-kick into the net. The midfielder was unmarked the back post to power in a header from close range.
City had a flurry of chances after Buendia floated a ball over the top for Max Aarons to run onto. Rafael was quick off his line to smother the right-back and push the ball away.
Buendia then came again, driving at goal before hitting a low effort at goal that stung the Reading keeper's palms, Pukki dispossessed Holmes but failed to get the ball out of his feet to unleash a shot.
In the same move, a wayward pass allowed Buendia to find Pukki inside the area. The Finn looked to curl the ball beyond Rafael but Holmes cleared the ball off the line to prevent the equaliser.
City did find the leveller as the clocked ticked towards 30 minutes, with Cantwell's pass behind the Reading back four causing chaos. Holmes back pass to Rafael was charged down by Pukki, with the keeper's clearance falling to Dowell, who made no mistake to make it 1-1.
Olise had a chance to restore the lead for the visitors after Kenny McLean was caught off the ball, Ovie Ejaria played the ball across to the highly-rated youngster, but he failed to hit the target with his effort.
City started the second half with more intensity, and both Buendia and Dowell went close inside the opening three minutes.
From the resulting corner of the latter chance, McLean saw his fierce header pushed over the bar by Rafael.
The Canaries' pressure continued, but they failed to find the target with their efforts. Both Cantwell and McLean tried their luck from range but picked out the advertising banners in the Barclay rather than the Royals goal.
Norwich did find the second goal courtesy of another strike from Dowell.
Quintilla exchanged passes with Cantwell, who lofted a pass-through to the former Everton man inside the area. The angle was acute, but Dowell managed to find the bottom corner with a driven shot.
Pukki misplaced his shooting boots against QPR this week, and it seemed as though the Finn had failed to pack them again. A clever lofted pass from Dowell sent him running through on goal, but Rafael managed to get a hand to his attempted chip.
Quintilla scored his first City goal during the 3-1 victory over QPR last weekend, and the Spaniard didn't have to wait long to double his tally.
Cantwell was bundled over on the edge of the area by substitute Alfa Semedo. The left-back took ownership of the resulting free-kick and curled it exquisitely into the net.
Reading then gifted Pukki his 26th goal of the season after profiting from another loose back pass from Holmes. The Finnish international beat Rafael to the ball and walked it into the net to add gloss to a dominant second-half display.
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons (Mumba, 89), Omobamidele, Hanley (C), Quintilla (Hugill, 86); Skipp, McLean; Buendia (Tettey, 82), Dowell (Vrancic, 82), Cantwell (Hernandez, 86); Pukki. Subs not used: Nyland (GK), Mumba, Sorensen, Stiepermann, Placheta.
- Bookings: Aarons (foul on Joao, 17), Skipp (foul on Olise, 42)
- Goals: Dowell 30, 64, Quintilla 78, Pukki 85
- Reading (4-2-3-1): Rafael (C); Yiadom, Holmes, Gibson, Richards; Tetek (Semedo, 68), Laurent; Olise (Esteves, 68), Swift (Meite, 62), Ejaria; Joao (Camara, 83). Subs not used: Southwood (GK), Dorsett, Aluko, Baldock, Puscas.
- Bookings: Richards (foul on Pukki, 26)
- Goals: Laurent 12
- Added on time: 2 mins/3 mins
- Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)