Norwich succumbed to a 1-2 home defeat against high-flying Leicester in what was a frustrating encounter for the Canaries. Vardy, having won a dubious penalty, smashed the ball past Ruddy before the away side doubled their lead moments after the break through full-back Jeff Schlupp. Alex Neil went two up-front as City hoped to rectify their inadequacies thus far, and summer-signing Dieumerci Mbokani notched his first goal in the process. Despite numerous other chances, Norwich could not find that all-important equaliser.
The Canaries hoped to continue their good run of form having picked up impressive points on the road at both Anfield and the Boleyn Ground.
City huffed and puffed but ultimately struggled to get anywhere near the level of performance required. Leicester, on the other hand, showed why they’ve done so well this season, playing with the swagger of a well-drilled team. Jamie Vardy’s pace was causing all sorts of problems and was the focal point in a system that was moulded around him. In fact, playing at Carrow Road suited the visitors, whose solidity in their shape allowed them to press before counter-attacking with electric pace. Norwich were sloppy in possession and were perhaps too narrow with Howson on the right instead of Redmond.
The home side’s best chance of the first-half fell very early on; Cameron Jerome slashed it over the bar after a neat one-two with Wes Hoolahan. City were made to rue that missed opportunity as they lost their grip on the game, and Okazaki’s early header acted as a warning sign. Howson and Tettey were overwhelmed in midfield, while Whittaker struggled at right-back.
Vardy showed just how quick he was, getting the better of Howson on a counter-attack, wriggling his way into the box, before his shot was put behind by Ruddy. The resulting set-piece was well-defended by Norwich who so far this season have conceded five goals from corners and free-kicks.
Leicester went close again; Drinkwater slid to try and nudge the ball past Ruddy, missing, before it ran to Simpson who would surely slot it home. To Norwich’s rescue came John Ruddy, pouncing as the Leicester man struck goal-wards.
Norwich’s clean sheet wouldn’t last for long, though. Jamie Vardy ‘won’ a penalty after a long punt forward from Leicester, getting goal-side of Sebastien Bassong, before crashing to the floor. Replays showed that the contact was minimal, however the two players’ relative positions meant that it was easy for referee Clattenburg to point to the spot. Vardy, who was receiving abuse for diving, stepped up and sent Ruddy the wrong way. 1-0.
A state of panic then overcame Norwich. Passing was especially sloppy and Leicester were eager to capitalise. Hoolahan appeared to be injured too, which didn’t help their cause, but he managed to recover with Redmond ready to take his place. Leicester again came forward and again nearly scored, this time Schlupp inches from poking the ball past Ruddy for two-nil.
Before the break, Norwich earned a couple of corners but each delivery was met with equally effective defending from Leicester, and so the score remained 0-1 at half-time.
I thought our use of the ball was sloppy and too slow, and Leicester punished that today.
Norwich showed their ambitions to get back into the game, instantly winning a corner from the second-half kick off. However, in typical fashion, Leicester hit Norwich on the break and Schlupp this time applied the clinical touch.
The goal was met by movement on the bench; Nathan Redmond entered the fray, replacing Graham Dorrans, before Mbokani replaced Jarvis nine minutes later. Questions remain over whether these changes could have come at half-time.
Dieumerci Mbokani was unlucky not to get on the end of Whittaker’s low driven cross, and even more unlucky not to score with a header seconds later that clattered against the inside of the post. Half of Carrow Road thought it was going in, and then it was. This time Norwich recycled a failed corner with Jonny Howson redelivering the ball into the penalty area. The cross was tantalising and the big Congolese striker gobbled up the opportunity, flicking the ball past the helpless Schmeichel.
Now the home side were playing with a renewed belief, however their efforts would only prove futile.
Their second goal was the key moment. We changed the shape after that. In terms of the way we play, it didn’t work today.
Kyle Lafferty came on for Cameron Jerome on 77 minutes to force the issue. Redmond went close, striking the ball from the right, only to see his effort tipped onto the bar by Schmeichel. The pressure was mounting, but once again Leicester found an opportunity break. In a four-versus-two situation, most Norwich fans covered their eyes in preparation for what seemed inevitable. Ruddy had different ideas, denying Vardy and keeping City’s hope alive. Redmond went very close at the other end, with his shot being deflected wide for a corner. Despite the six minutes added time, Norwich could not find the equaliser.
On the balance of play, Norwich got what they deserved.
When you’re chasing a two-goal deficit, it’s difficult. We had enough to get something, but the first half cost us.