Norwich City dished out a thrashing to stunned Reading
NORWICH CITY put on a stunning 45-minute display to score six first-half goals against Reading in what caretaker manager Alan Irvine regards as the best display of the season from the Canaries.
The home side ran riot, Wes Hoolahan and Alex Pritchard scoring twice each and Nelson Oliveira and Russell Martin once before the interval. Yann Kermorgant netted what proved to be a consolation for the visitors late in the first half, and Cameron Jerome rounded off the scoring three minutes before the end.
The midweek defeat to Huddersfield all but ended Norwich’s chance of a play-off spot, but Irvine was delighted with the reaction from his players against a team battling for promotion.
“That was the best performance of the season bearing in mind the quality of the opposition,” he said. “It could have been more because we missed a number of chances in the second half that we would normally regret, but we were in a great position at half-time.
“I said that there needed to be a response and I said to the players it was vitally important that they reacted in a positive way after what happened, and full credit to them. They took a lot of criticism after the Huddersfield game. I told them that I couldn’t protect them.
“Now I think I should fully praise them because they went about their jobs absolutely brilliantly and the performance was outstanding.”
An early goal from the spot from Oliveira opened the scoring for Norwich and Hoolahan added a second in the 15th minute as Reading heads began to drop after a poor start.
Defensive mistakes were rife in the Reading backline, with a Jordan Mutch error making way for Pritchard’s stunning volley before some loose marking allowed Martin to add a simple fourth after Ali Al-Habsi saved from Oliveira.
Pritchard piled on the misery for the visitors with an unchallenged run to the edge of the box being finished with a precise low effort into the bottom right corner.
Kermorgant pulled one back for the visitors after a fantastic John Ruddy save denied Lewis Grabban’s close-range header, but a comeback never looked likely.
Any glimmer of hope was extinguished two minutes later, with some very weak defending and goalkeeping allowing Hoolahan to score while lying on the floor after Al-Habsi had got enough on the initial shot to keep it out.
Jerome completed the goals for Norwich three minutes after coming on, compounding the misery for Jaap Stam’s team, and the Royals manager made no excuses for their display in a game during which they looked to give up after 15 minutes.
“As a team if you can’t bring what you normally bring then it’s going to be very hard, especially if you’re playing against a side like Norwich,” said Stam.
“You know they can punish you. If you look at the first half, basically every shot on target was a goal, the ball fell in front of their feet instead of ours.
“We’ve been in the top six because we’ve played in a certain way, because players have been working very hard and doing very well. Sometimes you’re up to a certain standard and then you need to go to the next step and improve when you play teams like this or you lose 7-1.”
HOO ARE YA: Norwich City's Wes Hoolahan celebrates their second goal, inset