Millers grab eye-catching win......
The Sky Bet Championship form book was turned upside down as Rotherham United earned their first league win of the campaign over previously-unbeaten Norwich City at a raucous AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The Millers will go into the September international break in good heart after Dexter Lembikisa notched his first senior goal with a wonder strike before Jordan Hugill maintained his happy knack of scoring against his former clubs, by doubling the home side's lead at the interval.
The Millers had a nervy second period when Christian Fassnacht halved the deficit early in the half, but Rotherham showed great resolve to preserve their slender lead in the most testing of circumstances.
Following their last-gasp defeat at the hands of high-flying Leicester City in their last league outing, boss Matt Taylor retained the starting line-up that faced the Foxes.
Club-record signing Sam Nombe, who put pen to paper on a long-term deal from Exeter City, was named on the bench while Sebastian Raven, who joined late on transfer deadline day on loan from Aston Villa, was ineligible to play.
The Millers had an early opportunity when skipper Ollie Rathbone played a delicious pass which split open the Norwich rearguard and Andre Green found himself in a footrace with Canaries ‘keeper Angus Gunn, who got there just in time to hack the ball clear under pressure from the home frontman.
Minutes later, Green showed fleet of foot to work a crossing position but his centre evaded home runners before Tyler Blackett was forced to divert Jonathan Rowe’s cross to safety, at the other end, following good work by Dimitris Giannoulis.
The Canaries threatened the home goal when they turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye by bypassing the Rotherham press high up the pitch, and following a series of passes, Rowe and Giannoulis combined to great effect on the left-flank again before the latter’s pull back looked inviting for Gabriel Sara – who was involved earlier in the move, but he could not direct his effort goalwards despite being just yards out.
Minutes later, Ashley Barnes ballooned a header over from Sara’s corner.
The Millers fashioned a move when Green burst into the box and with Rathbone getting a timely touch, Fred Onyedinma was able to flash a rising effort from a tight angle, but a combination of Gunn, and the outside of the post kept the ball out.
However, Rotherham were not to be denied in the next phase of play when they grabbed the breakthrough.
A ball was placed into the Norwich box, and with no visiting defender in a position to clear, Onyedinma got a flick on and the ball sat up nicely for Lembikisa, who made no mistake, to rifle a fierce effort from the edge of the box – with his favoured right foot – and Gunn was helpless, as the ball arched away from him to find the top, right-hand corner of the net.
To their credit, David Wagner’s side responded positively to the setback and Viktor Johansson had to race from his line to deny Rowe before Barnes had a shot blocked en-route to goal.
Minutes later, Barnes picked up a loose ball outside the box before curling a left-footed effort which had Johansson at full stretch – as the Swedish stopper parried the ball to safety.
Just past the half-hour mark, Hugill was the first to see yellow for deliberate handball as he illegally met Cafu’s free-kick with his hand before Lembikisa – with pleas of the home fans to repeat his earlier heroics – saw his long-range shot blocked.
Moments later, Johansson was ever-alert to smother Adam Idah before Rotherham – who were now playing with a spring in their step - doubled their advantage just five minutes before the break.
The Millers kept the ball alive and Cafu delivered a tantalising ball into the box, and the experienced hitman showed all his experience to get a yard on his marker, and met the Portuguese player’s centre before skilfully guiding the ball into the far corner of the net with a fine header.
Norwich frustration boiled over when Jack Stacey was cautioned for hauling down Onyedinma in full flow before Rathbone soon joined him in the book for a rash challenge on Rowe.
In first-half stoppage time, Barnes fired into the side netting from an acute angle after Rotherham were caught slightly napping from a long throw.
Half-time: Rotherham United 2 Norwich City 0
Norwich were quick out of blocks at the start of the second half when Sara’s cleverly disguised corner presented Canaries captain Kenny McLean with a glimpse of goal, but his low effort failed to trouble Johansson.
Minutes later, Sara blasted a long range effort into the large set of Norwich fans behind the goal.
Nevertheless, Rotherham failed to heed the warning when Norwich halved the deficit just five minutes into the half.
The visitors injected pace into a move and Rowe darted with purpose into the home box before playing a slide-rule ball across the face of goal and Fassnacht got in front of Johansson, before firing high into the Rotherham net from point-blank range.
The Norfolk side looked a transformed outfit after the break and Rathbone was somewhat fortunate to escape further sanction for a foul in the build-up to a lightning Norwich counter-attack but it went unpunished.
In a whirlwind sixty seconds, there was action at both ends when Johansson was forced to parry Sara’s centre from danger following good work by McLean before Rotherham swept up field and Hugill presented Cohen Bramall with the chance to dink a cross which was just too high for the on-rushing Green.
On the hour mark, Idah fired straight into the grateful hands of Johansson before Hugill failed to make the most of a Norwich mix-up on halfway when his errant pass from a three on two opportunity was cut out by a retreating defender.
The AESSEAL New York Stadium was at fever pitch when they were given their first glimpse of Nombe, who was introduced at the expense of Green for the last half hour.
However, it was Norwich, who threatened next when Sara – a constant danger – found Stacey, who fired low at the near post, but Johansson was his equal with a smart, reflex save.
The Millers temporarily took the sting out of the visitors and they almost gave themselves some much-needed breathing space with 20 minutes to go when Rathbone made light work of McLean to burst into the box and although Ben Gibson cut out his centre, Cafu fired back with interest, but his rising effort agonisingly grazed the angle of the visitors’ goal.
Minutes later, Rathbone, himself, then curled an effort over from distance.
The Millers were proving a tough nut to crack but concerns were raised when Barnes tumbled under the challenge of a wounded Bramall in the box before the visiting fans appealed vehemently for a handball, but nothing was given on either occasion.
The home side were showing great defensive resolve but it was tested to the full when sub Przemyslaw Placheta volleyed over with the goal at his mercy.
In Norwich’s last chances, Johansson kept his nerve to pluck Barnes' header out of the sky before he produced a superb claim, in the dying seconds, to diffuse sub Sam McCallum’s hanging cross.
The final whistle brought huge acclaim from three corners of the AESSEAL New York Stadium with the home fans keen to applaud the efforts of their side, who got their Sky Bet Championship campaign up and running.
Full-time: Rotherham United 2 Norwich City 1
Rotherham United 2
Norwich City 1
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Lembikisa, Bramall, Blackett, Cafu, Hugill (Eaves 83), Green (Nombe 63), Onyedinma, Rathbone, Humphreys, Tiehi. Unused- Phillips, Bola, Morrison, Appiah, McGuckin, Douglas.
Norwich- Gunn, Stacey, Gibson, Barnes, Idah (Gibbs 77), Fassnacht (Springett 77), Sara, McLean, Duffy, Rowe (Placheta 64), Giannoulis (McCallum 77). Unused- Long, McCracken, Nunez, Fisher, Warner.
Referee- S Barrott
Attendance- 11066 (2212)