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📰 Match report | Champions stun Royals by turning on second half style

Royals undone by stylish second half at

1 May 2021

Norwich City were crowned champions with a second half performance that earned them a come-from-behind win over the Royals at Carrow Road this afternoon.

The first attack of note was mounted by Reading, Joao winning the ball aerially in midfield and bursting forward. He found Ejaria overlapping to his left and the ball was moved on to an onside Olise, but his cross from the left was cleared.

Moments later, Gibson did well to stretch a leg out and intercept a ball from Buendia looking for Pukki.

With nine minutes played, Pukki pounced on some hesitancy from Gibson and stole possession to set Buendia away into acres of space. Gibson did well to track his man back into the penalty box and forced him to shoot waywardly, off balance and wide of the right post.

Buendia was doing some important defensive work soon after, cutting out a cut back ball from Richards looking for Swift. Then Ejaria tumbled inside the City box, tripping over a cluster of Norwich legs – but good appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears.

Reading’s fine start was rewarded. Olise swept in a deep free kick from the right and Laurent rose at the back post to head home from close range – Krul flapping but unable to stop it rippling the net.

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Richards needed to time a tackle on Max Aarons well and did so inside his own area as the right-back looked to shoot. Then Aarons was in the action at the other end, catching Joao with a follow through after a tackle and receiving a yellow card for the offence. Swift swerved the set piece towards Tim Krul’s goal but the keeper gathered it into his chest well.

Reading needed Rafael at his best to keep the lead mid-way through the half. First he launched himself at a throughball looking for Aarons and punched int clear. Then he was down low to his right to deny Buendia before shepherding Pukki away and chesting away his stabbed effort by staying big in front of the Finnish forward.

Holmes needed to hack the ball off his goalline moments later after Pukki had pounced on a mistake from Gibson – the striker toed the ball past Rafael, who got a glove to the shot to take the sting out of it, allowing Holmes to clear.

Reading so nearly made it 2-0 though when Swift set Joao away. He checked his run and squared to ball, Swift left it, Olise collected it and cut inside with his first touch – before a shot was deflected wide by one of the recovering City defenders.

On the half-hour mark, the Canaries were level. Holmes’ back pass to Rafael was short and the Royals keeper head to slide out to clear the ball before Pukki could get a toe to it. The ball ricocheted out to Dowell who controlled it and shot past Rafael – who again got a touch but this time Gibson’s best efforts weren’t enough to keep it from looping over the line for 1-1.

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Swift won a free kick and stood over it in a central position 22 yards out. But his set piece sailed over the crossbar without testing Krul. A speculative free kick from Olise towards the back post again, whistled just wide too.

On the stroke of half-time, Reading could easily have retaken the lead. Ejaria threaded the ball into the feet of Olise who had time to control the ball on the right side of the area and shoot – but he rifled an effort over the crossbar from a good position.

An entertaining first half came to a close with an early cross from the outside of Swift’s boot, Krul diving on it before it could skid through to Olise.

Half-time: Norwich City 1-1 Reading

The second half began with a shot from Buendia who drilled wide of the bottom left corner.

Norwich had startted sharply and a superb fingertip save from Rafael denied Dowell as he drove into the box from the left and thundered a shot goalwards from a tight angle.

From the resultant corner, Rafael did well again - somehow pushing a McLean header over his bar. And the Brazilian was down well to shovel a strike from Cantwell wide moments later.

The Canaries had come out of the traps much quicker in the second half and Pukki dragged a right-footed shot just wide of the bottom left corner.

Richards got lucky when a tackle fell back to him, but his cut back was just behind Swift as the Royals looked to react. But Daniel Farke's side continued to impress, Cantwell arrowing over from a good spot inside the box.

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Yiadom did well to block a Quintilla header that looked set to hand the home side the lead just after the hour, but no-one could prevent Dowell making it 2-1 soon after - the midfielder latching onto a scooped pass from Cantwell and squeezing a shot home from the narrowest of angles.

Hanley dispossessed Joao inside the Reading half and passed it into Pukki who was clean through on goal. But he skied his shot over the crossbar when it looked like a third goal for the hosts was on the cards.

Rafael continued to be Pukki's nemesis, getting a glove to a dinked effort as the Finn bore down on goal when latching onto a lovely flicked pass that pierced the Reading defence.

But Norwich made sure of victory and clinched the title when Cantwell won a free kick from Semedo and Quintilla curled a set piece around the Reading wall and into the top left corner for 3-1.

Esteves did well top spread the ball wide to Richards in space on the left, but his cross flew just in front of Meite in the middle. 

But another short back pass from Holmes allowed Pukki to steal in. He rounded the onrishing Rafael and walked the ball into the back of the net to make it 4-1.

Reading had begun this game the stronger, but Norwich wrestled their way back into it and the visitors missed a couple of first half opportunities - and City were worth of their Champions title with a second half display that saw them run away with the win.

The Royals will now look to end the season on a positive note when Huddersfield Town come to the Madejski on the final day.

Full-time: Norwich City 4-1 Reading

Norwich City: Krul, Aarons (Mumba 86), Hanley (c), Dowell (Vrancic 83), Cantwell (Hernandez 86), Buendia (Tettey 82), Skipp, Pukki, Quintilla (Hugill 86), McLean, Omobamidele.
Unused subs: Nyland, Vrancic, Hugill, Stiepermann, Sorensen, Mumba, Tettey, Placheta.
Yellow: Aarons, Skipp
Goals: Dowell 30, 64, Quintilla 78, Pukki 85.

Reading: Rafael (c), Richards, Yiadom, Holmes, Gibson, Laurent, Tetek (Semedo 68), Ejaria, Swift- (Meite 62), Olise (Esteves 68), Joao (Camara 83).
Unused subs: Southwood, Dorsett, Baldock, Aluko, Puscas.
Yellow: Richards, Semedo
Goals: Laurent 12


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