Marco Stiepermann’s 84th-minute goal earned Norwich a hard-fought 1-0 win over fellow high-flyers Swansea at Carrow Road.
The German midfielder fired in the latest of a series of late winners for the Canaries after being set up by Emi Buendia to make it seven games unbeaten for Daniel Farke’s in-form side, five of which have been wins.
They are now third but are just a point adrift of leaders Reading, who have lost their last three.
Swansea had their chances in an even game, with Jamal Lowe failing to take two clear-cut opportunities in the second half, and on this evidence both teams should be pushing for promotion come the end of the season.
Norwich were quickly into their stride in a game between sides which started the day in fourth and third respectively and should really have been ahead after just five minutes.
A trademark dash into the box from right-back Max Aarons ended with the ball at the feet of Przemyslaw Placheta with just Connor Roberts blocking his route to the back of the net, but the Polish winger fired straight at the defender and a wonderful chance was wasted.
A minute later Marc Guehi’s foul on Buendia on the edge of the area presented the Canaries with another chance to get their noses in front, but the Argentine’s free-kick went straight into the wall before Aarons curled one just wide from around 20 yards.
It was an excellent start from a side with an unbeaten six-match run behind them and two more free-kicks from good positions – from first Buendia and then Stiepermann – were blocked as the hosts continued to dominate the early stages.
However, Swansea gradually got a foothold in the game and went desperately close to taking the lead after 22 minutes when the dangerous Andre Ayew headed Roberts’ corner onto the upright with Tim Krul well beaten.
It took a superb late block from Roberts to prevent Teemu Pukki from opening the scoring six minutes after the break.
The Finn look certain to score after some neat approach work had given him a clear sight of goal but Roberts was perfectly placed to snuff out the danger.
That was a rare moment of excitement in a disjointed start to the second period but Swansea should have broken the deadlock after 63 minutes when Kenny McLean carelessly coughed up possession in midfield.
A swift counter ended with Lowe one-on-one with Krul but the striker’s shot was straight at the keeper, who was able to palm the ball away.
The visitors then had loud appeals for a penalty turned down as Jake Bidwell went down under a challenge from Aarons, with Ayew then bringing another good save out of Krul with a follow-up shot.
The Dutchman was at it again after 78 minutes, throwing out a arm to keep out Lowe’s rising drive after good work from Ayew, while at the other end impressive substitute Bali Mumba set Pukki up for an effort which was well blocked.
Both teams were trying to win it rather than settling for a draw and it was Norwich who finally broke the deadlock after 84 minutes.
Mumba again did well to get the ball in from the right and Buendia did superbly to tee the ball up for Stiepermann, who beat Freddie Woodman with a low shot into the corner from the edge of the box.
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