Norwich 0-0 Wolves: Canaries continue their good run of form with a stalemate draw at Carrow Road but will be left ruing missed chances
- Wolves dominated much of the ball in the first-half without really threatening
- Norwich upped the tempo in the second-half but couldn’t finish their chances
- Bruno Lage’s side are up to sixth in the table while Norwich remain in 19th
Norwich couldn’t quite achieve three consecutive Premier League wins for the first time in nine years but there was nonetheless plenty of encouragement for Dean Smith.
His arrival has certainly galvanised things at Carrow Road and his team really should have beaten an under-powered Wolves here.
The most significant performer on the pitch was visiting keeper Jose Sa, who made crucial saves from Max Aarons and Teemu Pukki to ensure his side remained sixth in the table.
Max Aarons (centre) went close to giving Norwich the lead on the stroke of half-time
Considering that Norwich are second bottom, they played the superior football, exerted more meaningful pressure and created the better chances. Only their finishing let them down.
Indeed, the clearest chance for Wolves came from Norwich almost shooting themselves in the foot at the back.
But Smith always knew there was plenty to work on, both defensively and offensively, when he accepted the job. He will have learned plenty from this and also drawn optimism.
The home fans stood and applauded at the final whistle, appreciative of the effort those in yellow had put in.
Back-to-back wins over Brentford and Southampton had certainly bolstered confidence around Carrow Road and Norwich seized the early initiative.
Smith hadn’t tinkered too much from last Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Saints, making just the one change with Todd Cantwell replaced by Josh Sargent.
MATCH FACTS & RATINGS
Norwich City (4-3-3): Krul 6; Aarons 6, Hanley (c) 6, Gibson 6, Williams 6.5; McLean 6.5, Normann 6 (Rupp 35, 7), Gilmour 7; Sargent 7 (Tzolis 68, 6), Pukki 6, Rashica 7 (Dowell 82)
Substitutes not used: Gunn (GK); Cantwell, Lees-Melou, Giannoulis, Idah, Omobamidele
Manager: Dean Smith 7
Booked: Gilmour, Gibson
Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-4-3): Sa 8; Kilman 7, Coady (c) 7.5, Saiss 7; Semedo 6 (Dendoncker 76), Neves 6.5, Moutinho 6.5, Ait-Nouri 7; Trincao 6 (Traore 68, 6), Jimenez 6, Hwang 6 (Hoever 90+2)
Substitutes not used: Moulden (GK), Ruddy (GK); Marcal, Silva, Cundle
Manager: Bruno Lage 6
Booked: Neves, Semedo
Referee: Simon Hooper 7
Man of the Match: Jose Sa (Wolves)
And it was the American who flashed a first time shot high and wide in the opening minutes after Pukki cut the ball back. Pukki had earlier attempted a curling effort after turning in the box but didn’t get the execution right.
Wolves boss Bruno Lage was forced into a team reshuffle when Daniel Podence tested positive for Covid-19 but the in-form visitors were soon zipping the ball around.
They found particular joy down the left, where the diagonal passes of Ruben Neves picked out Rayan Ait-Nouri in acres of space on several occasions during the first-half.
Aarons didn’t seem too keen to get tight to the France under-21 international, meaning Sargent was left to track back and cover.
When that didn’t work, Ait-Nouri was given licence to cross and Raul Jimenez sent a 10th-minute shot over from one such opportunity.
Francisco Trincao (left) and Brandon Williams (right) battle for the ball at Carrow Road
But Norwich were undoubtedly the better side. Billy Gilmour, so impressive against Southampton a week ago, was well-watched by the Wolves midfielders.
But he did slip the perfect through pass into Pukki, who found himself clear inside the Wolves box but took too many touches and allowed Conor Coady to block his eventual shot.
Storm Arwen was always likely to have some impact on the game and a heavy downpour almost resulted in disaster for Norwich just before half-time.
Grant Hanley tried to pass his way out of defence but had nowhere to go under pressure. Instead, he turned inside his own box and attempted to go home to Tim Krul, only to see the pass slow up on the wet surface.
Hwang Hee-Chan almost beat Krul to the ball before the Dutchman had to block Joao Moutinho’s follow-up with his legs.
That almost saw Norwich undeservedly behind but in stoppage time they might have been ahead.
Norwich City’s Lukas Rupp (left) rues a missed chance early in the second-half
Whether they’d done enough to deserve it was open to debate but Aarons couldn’t get enough power on his shot to beat Sa after he’d driven into the box and played a neat one-two with Lukas Rupp.
Norwich’s fans had been serenading Milot Rashica by singing his name to the tune of
by The Champs and we got another rendition when he whipped a shot just wide early in the second-half.
A minute later, he was brought down callously by Nelson Semedo and Rashica’s subsequent free-kick caused a moment of panic for Wolves as Rupp’s shot was blocked.
Teemu Pukki had a great chance to put the Canaries ahead but his effort lacked direction
With just over 20 minutes left, Norwich carved out an even better chance for Pukki. Sharp build-up on the edge of the box led to Rupp splitting the Wolves defence with a through ball.
The Finnish striker was clean through and onside, but Sa saved vitally with an outstretched boot.
Norwich looked the far more likely to win it but Rashica couldn’t get sufficient power on his side-footed shot after Rashica had again marauded down the left to cross.
Such fine margins ultimately left us in stalemate.