Rotherham United’s impressive seven game unbeaten run came to an end on the road at league leaders Norwich City, who came from behind to record a 3-1 win at Carrow Road.
The Millers were given early hope by Richie Towell’s opener and were good value for their lead which they held until half time. Daniel Farke’s side looked reinvigorated following the restart and a confident attacking display saw them register three goals in the second period to deny Warne a win on his return to Norfolk. Goals from Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons and Teemu Pukki ensured the Canaries all three points on Saturday and kept them right at the head of the Sky Bet Championship pack.
Rotherham United boss Paul Warne reshuffled his pack for his return to Norfolk with two changes, both in the wide positions. Anthony Forde and Joe Newell were called in to replace Jon Taylor and Matt Palmer, with the former of the two coming in to make his first Championship start of 2018/19.
Those changes in the wide areas meant that Ryan Williams moved forward from the left into a supporting role as a number 10 behind Michael Smith, while Will Vaulks once again took the armband with club captain Richard Wood named amongst the substitutes.
The opening to the fixture at Carrow Road saw the Canaries dominating the ball but typically, the Millers maintained their discipline and ensured that opportunities for the league leader were limited.
Marek Rodak in the Millers’ goal had been untroubled other than a couple of wayward shots before it was the visitors who took the lead on 11 minutes.
Proved by their exploits at Wembley, the Millers have enjoyed some fortune from set pieces and did so again at Carrow Road. Newell’s short pass to Forde from a corner allowed the Irishman time to pass it out to Vaulks on the edge of the box, where the skipper unleashed a fierce strike on goal. It was too hot for Krul to handle in the Canaries’ goal and a grateful Towell was well-placed to apply the simplest of finishes to give his side the lead.
Warne’s side were definitely buoyed by the opener and were unlucky not to double their lead in the minutes the followed.
A series of corners yielded opportunities for Towell and Vaulks, with both unlucky to see efforts wide and narrowly over respectively.
That pressure continued up until the 19th minute when they threatened again as they hit the upright. This time an alert Joe Newell picked up the ball before some silky footwork took him towards the box where he was felled. However, a good advantage from the referee paved the way for Williams to rocket a low effort at goal which skipped across the surface before cannoning onto the post and agonisingly away from goal.
The hosts did come close to an equaliser eight minutes later when a surge of yellow upfield saw a cross from the left find Max Aarons at the back post. With the goal at his mercy he unleashed a fierce strike which looked destined to ripple the net until Joe Mattock bravely threw himself in front of the effort to make a crucial block.
Norwich’s only other sights of Rodak’s goal came in the form of a few free kicks. Vrancic and Buendia both had opportunities from 20 yards out but failed to threaten an equaliser, with the former the closer of the two efforts, hitting the wall before going behind for a corner.
Half-time | Norwich City 0 v 1 Rotherham United
The Millers came out after the interval with a slightly altered back line with Richard Wood introduced at the break in place of Clark Robertson. That task for Wood would inevitably be an unenviable one as Norwich flooded forward in the early stages in search of an equaliser.
As per the first half, Warne’s men did a good job of stifling their Norfolk counterparts but could no longer hold back the tide on 55 minutes. Vrancic’s clever lofted pass into the box found the feet of Teemu Pukki, whose composed approach allowed him to set himself at the byline where he teed up Todd Cantwell, who expertly applied a finish from the edge of the six yard box to make it 1-1.
Norwich went into the game as league leaders and showed that they wouldn’t rest on their laurels after the goal. Opportunities to get on the ball for the Millers were much more limited than the opening half and the Canaries continued to pile forwards.
That pressure yielded a number of set piece chances for the hosts, with Vrancic again fancying his chances from range. The midfielder shaped up to hit a free kick on the angle of the area at goal and did so, but was initially denied by a resolute Millers wall. However, a snapshot effort from the follow-up was much closer to the target before whizzing inches wide of Rodak’s far post.
Norwich’s reward eventually came on 71 minutes with goalscorer Cantwell involved again. This time the attacker turned provider as he clipped in a delightful cross for Aarons, who applied a deft touch to head the ball beyond Rodak and make it 2-1 to the hosts.
In typical fashion, Warne’s men refused to relent and forged a half chance soon after from another set piece. Vaulks’ outswinging delivery was accurate enough to find Michael Smith in the area but the big forward couldn’t steer his header onto the target under pressure from a crowd of yellow shirts.
Pukki had proven a nuisance for the Millers’ rearguard in most of the Canaries’ forays forward and almost got his name on the scoresheet just over 10 minutes from the end. Emi Buendia’s lomg-ranger was initially saved by Rodak but it fell kindly for the striker, who would have been disappointed with his follow-up effort which saw him fire wide with only the ‘keeper to beat.
Five minutes from time Pukki ensured that his name would indeed appear among the post-match statistics. Some intense pressing from Marco Stiepermann saw him steal the ball from Semi Ajayi before an incredibly unselfish lay-off left Pukki with a chance he couldn’t miss, leaving him the simple task of rolling the ball home.
Some Rodak heroics in the latter stages kept out subsequent efforts from Pukki and Trybull but ultimately the Millers were unable to find a way back into the game.
Full-time | Norwich City 3 v 1 Rotherham United
Norwich City | Krul; Lewis (Rhodes 86), Zimmerman, Tettey. Klose, Aarons; Cantwell, Vrancic (Trybull 89), Stiepermann, Tettey, Buendia; Pukki (Godfrey 90).
Unused | McGovern, Marshall, Passlack, Srbeny.
Millers | Rodak; Vyner, Ajayi, Robertson (Wood HT), Mattock; Forde (Proctor 73), Vaulks, Towell, Newell (Taylor 42); Williams; Smith.
Unused | Price, Jones, Wiles, Manning.