Norwich coach Dean Smith was more pleased with the result than the performance after watching his side edge past Bristol City 3-2 at Carrow Road.
A sixth successive Championship win consolidated the Canaries’ second position in the table, but they made hard work of it after going 2-0 up early on and Smith admitted his side were below their best against what he labelled brave opponents.
“I am disappointed with our performance tonight but I have not lost sight of the fact that it is another three points, that is the most important thing,” he said.
“The lads have got a winning mentality at the moment and that’s something we need to harness as we go forward.
“Bristol City have been in good form themselves and were the bravest side we have faced so far this season. They were prepared to go three for three with us at the back.
“Teemu (Pukki) got through twice to put us two up and I thought for the first 20-25 minutes we played well but they moved the ball around really well and for the rest of the half we didn’t get close enough to the ball, we didn’t get in their faces and put in the hard yards you need to in this division.
“They made it difficult for us although I must say there was a definite foul on Max Aarons in the lead-up to their second goal.
“There were a lot of unforced errors out there from both teams, and there were a lot of things that the players could have done better, but hopefully they can learn from this and keep developing as a team.
“It was one of those games that was probably entertaining to watch – but tested the nerves of both coaches.”
Norwich rode their luck in the first half to move 2-0 up before the visitors deservedly pulled one back just before the break.
Pukki opened the scoring after 11 minutes when he lifted the ball over goalkeeper Dan Bentley and headed into an unguarded net after a free-kick from deep was missed by Kal Naismith.
Midway through the half Naismith coughed up possession in midfield, allowing Pukki to latch on to Aaron Ramsey’s through ball and coolly slide the ball home.
Tommy Conway reduced the arrears in the 44th minute by heading home a Nahki Wells cross but the game looked over after 65 minutes when Josh Sargent made it six for the season by nodding in a corner.
Substitute Antoine Semenyo made it 3-2 in the 77th minute but the visitors could not find an equaliser.
Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson felt his side were unlucky to come away empty handed.
“I certainly think we should have got something out of the game,” he said.
“Once again we have scored two goals away from home but this time it was not enough.
“I was pleased with the tenacity we showed after going 2-0 down, even though our delivery into the box was not as good as it should have been towards the end.
“But the bottom line is you can’t afford to gift sides goals like we did tonight, and it’s not the first time it has happened this season, but that’s life.
“It’s a disappointing result but I think we have shown enough quality against a good Norwich side to make other teams wary of us.”
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