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Pukki at the double as 10-man Norwich crush QPR

Teemu Pukki bagged a brace as 10-man Norwich cruised to a 4-0 win over managerless QPR at Carrow Road to take another giant step towards a return to the Premier League.

The Canaries were in a different class to a ragged visiting side and could easily have won a one-sided encounter by a bigger margin, despite having Emi Buendia sent off midway through the second period for a badly-mistimed challenge.

An eighth straight win consolidated top spot and with six games remaining, it is now surely a case of when rather than if the leaders secure promotion.

Norwich led 3-0 at the break – and it could easily have been five or six.

Daniel Farke’s side were right at the top of their game, as they have been for some weeks now, while Rangers, who had John Eustace in caretaker charge following the sacking of Steve McClaren, were hopelessly off the pace.

It took just six minutes for the hosts to get their noses in front as a superb cross-field ball from Ben Godfrey caught Rangers out. Max Aarons had plenty of time to pick out Buendia, who had no problem sweeping home his eighth goal of the season.

City doubled their advantage after 12 minutes after more good play on their part – and more desperately poor defending from the Hoops. This time Marco Stiepermann was allowed the freedom of Carrow Road to make his way to the edge of the box before firing in a low shot that was too hot for goalkeeper Joe Lumley to handle.

Onel Hernandez could have had a hat-trick as Norwich continued to dominate, with one effort being saved by Lumley before he twice fired wide with a clear sight of goal.

Norwich finally got the third goal they deserved after 38 minutes – and this time it was handed to them on a plate.

Trying to play out from the back substitute Tony Leistner put Luke Freeman under pressure and a poor touch from the Rangers skipper allowed Buendia to pounce and slip Pukki in for his 26th goal of the season.

Tim Krul had made one decent save with the score a 2-0 to thwart Angel Rangel, but there was only one team in it in the opening period.

Rangers showed some improvement at the start of the second period and Krul needed to make a fine save down low to keep out a goalbound header from defender Darnell Furlong, who was up for a corner.

But Norwich still had a firm grip on the game and Buendia should really have made if four on 65 minutes after being set up by Stiepermann but he fired just over when well placed.

The game was clearly over as a contest but Norwich suffered their first setback just past the midway point of the second period when Buendia was sent off.

Having just been fouled himself, the midfielder launched into a wild challenge on substitute Josh Scowen as he prepared to clear, catching him in the process and, after consulting with assistant referee Scott Duncan, brandished a red card – Norwich’s first in the league this season.

Even with one less man Farke’s side still looked the better side and they made it 4-0 on 85 minutes when Pukki got his second.

The Finland international latched on to a long ball from the back from Christoph Zimmermann and held off his marker before coolly firing past Lumley for goal number 27 of a triumphant campaign.