Newcastle United 0 Norwich City 0
- Martin Atkinson
Newcastle United failed to beat bottom side Norwich City for the second time in the Premier League this season after a flat performance at St. James’ Park.
The Magpies lost 3-1 at Carrow Road on the second weekend of the campaign and were fortunate not to lose again on home soil, with the Canaries enjoying more of the ball – and producing the better opportunities – throughout.
Though Miguel Almirón could easily have put United in front after 20 minutes and Federico Fernández came close shortly before the end, much of the time in between belonged to Norwich, but Daniel Farke’s side were unable to find a way through.
United got off to something of a sloppy start but still managed to bring Tim Krul into action through Allan Saint-Maximin, who saw a tame strike held by the former Magpies ‘keeper after cutting inside. It was the visitors who came closest to an early opener, though, with Sam Bryam’s bullet header well saved by Martin Dúbravka after the full back met Ondrej Duda’s corner from the left.
After a quiet spell, things started to liven up midway through the first half. Teemu Pukki – the Magpies’ nemesis on that balmy afternoon at Carrow Road earlier in the season – brought a superb stop out of Dúbravka with an equally impressive strike, the frontman having caught the ball beautifully 20 yards out. At the other end, Almirón ought to have put United ahead after Krul parried Joelinton’s angled header, the Paraguayan’s own headed attempt dropping wide of the upright with the corner of the goal gaping.
Pukki got in behind the Magpies’ backline just before the half hour mark, albeit with Fernández hot on his heels. As the Finn shaped up to shoot, it was Fernández who won the duel, producing a vital block to divert the ball out of harm’s way. United were living dangerously, though, and breathed a collective sigh of relief once more as Ondrej Duda’s deflected strike dropped narrowly over the crossbar.
It was much of the same after the interval. Five minutes in, the Canaries found themselves with the extra man in the attacking third, a move which culminated with Pukki seeing a right-footed strike blocked. Kenny McLean and another ex-Magpie, Grant Hanley, both nodded wide from corners before the hour, while Pukki cleared the crossbar from a decent position after another threatening Norwich counter.
With United offering little from open play, the Canaries continued to look the likelier to make the breakthrough. Pukki found himself in again as the game moved into the final 20 minutes, but Dúbravka managed to narrow the angle and produce another stop. As he did, though, the ball ricocheted off Ciaran Clark and back towards goal, the defender forced into a quick sprint and a vital intervention as most of those inside St. James’ held their breath. The danger still wasn’t over with completely, though, but Duda could only fire the loose ball into the side netting.
United’s only real opportunity of the second period fell the way of Fernández five minutes from time, with the Argentine forcing Krul into a last-gasp stop after rising high to meet Matt Ritchie’s corner. In truth, though, defeat would have been harsh on the visitors, whose attacking intent continued well into stoppage time, with the late heroics that Newcastle produced in their last two Premier League games – against Chelsea and Everton – never looking likely to materialise for a third time.