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Excellent Emi Buendia strike fires leaders Norwich to victory over Barnsley

Norwich City v Barnsley – Sky Bet Championship – Carrow Road
(Image credit: Nigel French)

Championship leaders Norwich got back to winning ways after taking just one point from two festive games when they beat a spirited Barnsley side 1-0 at Carrow Road.

The match was settled by a wonderful piece for finishing just past the hour mark, with Argentine midfielder Emi Buendia converting a lofted pass from deep with a brilliant first touch.

It was a deserved win for the Canaries, who would have won by a bigger margin had they taken more of the numerous chances they created.

The Tykes also gave a good account of themselves and almost grabbed a unlikely point in the final minute of stoppage time when Michal Helik diverted a low cross just wide from close in.

Barnsley were missing four players, including skipper Alex Mowatt, due to Covid protocols but they arrived in good form and started well, almost taking the lead in the 11th minute.

When Cauley Woodrow’s shot from just outside the box took a big deflection, it fell nicely for Luke Thomas some 10 yards out and the visitors were desperately unlucky when his well-struck volley hit the crossbar and rebounded to safety.

In an even first half, Norwich also went close to breaking the deadlock after 25 minutes as Teemu Pukki latched on to Mario Vrancic’s through ball and fired goalwards, only to be denied by a superb goal-line clearance from Callum Brittain.

Other than that, clear chances were at a premium, although Barnsley goalkeeper Jack Walton did well to hold onto the Vrancic’s low drive and at the other end Tim Krul, back after missing nine games with a thigh problem, comfortably gathered a shot from Callum Styles.

The Canaries wasted an excellent opportunity to take the lead early in the second half after Todd Cantwell had been sent clear by Buendia. The young midfielder slipped Pukki in but the Finn’s weak effort was comfortably blocked by the keeper.

Walton made a far more difficult save eight minutes later when the ball fell kindly for Jacob Sorensen just outside the six-yard box, pushing the Dane’s fiercely-struck drive away for a corner.

As the game passed the hour mark the leaders were firmly in control and they finally got the goal they deserved after 62 minutes thanks to an wonderful finish from Buendia.

Kenny McLean did well to pick out his midfield colleague’s run into the box with a long raking pass and the little Argentine converted with a sublime first touch, giving Walton no chance.

Norwich should have doubled their advantage after 72 minutes when Pukki raced clear again but rather than shoot he chose to square to Cantwell, with a poor pass leaving his colleague with too much to do.

Barnsley were fortunate to still be in the game but they were struggling to get in the Norwich half and it wasn’t until the 80th minute that they finally had their first effort of the second period, with Krul comfortably grabbing a speculative shot from substitute Victor Adeboyejo.

Walton was forced into another good stop to deny Cantwell as Daniel Farke’s team continued to dominate although Helik almost grabbed a point for Barnsley at the death.