Leicester collected a much-needed victory as goals from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Stephy Mavididi and Jamie Vardy completed a comeback which gave Enzo Maresca’s side a 3-1 win over Norwich at the King Power Stadium.

It was a result that sent Leicester back to the top of the table before Ipswich Town and Leeds United’s evening games.

But Leicester’s recent stutters, after looking certainties for promotion, appeared to be evident again as Norwich took the lead through Gabriel Sara’s fourth goal in as many games.

It was a goal that exposed Leicester’s defensive weaknesses as Sara latched on to a corner to score from close range after 20 minutes.

But Maresca’s side took control after that, dominating the game. They levelled the scores in the 33rd minute with Dewsbury-Hall’s first goal since January, but his 11th of the season.

Leicester edged ahead after 62 minutes when Dewsbury-Hall found Mavididi on the left. He brushed past Norwich defender Jack Stacey and curled the ball into the far corner. It was also his first Championship goal since January.

Norwich arrived with form that was third only to Leeds and Ipswich over the previous six games. But they were dealt a blow after just nine minutes when defender Jacob Sorensen was forced off through injury.

Patson Daka was put through by an accurate ball from Harry Winks, but Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn was quick to react.

David Wagner’s side then took the lead after catching Leicester out at a corner. When Marcelino Nunez sent the ball to the near post, Sara moved past a static Daka and scored, unchallenged, from close range.

Leicester’s players were left to debate among themselves about the breakdown in communications. But it turned out to be a rare mistake as they fought back to take command of the game.

A superb cross from Wilfred Ndidi found Mavididi in the 18-yard area and he sent the ball back across goal for Dewsbury-Hall to head the equaliser.

Daka should have put Leicester ahead after 54 minutes when a weak header from Sam McCallum fell short and straight to the Zambia striker. But he hurried his shot and put the ball wide as Norwich escaped.

But a Leicester win looked more likely as the half went on, and Mavididi scored a second just after the hour mark.

Norwich might have equalised when Stacey broke clear, but he hit the side netting with Josh Sargent well placed on the edge of the six-yard area.

Leicester settled it in the third minute of stoppage time when Winks’ shot was blocked the ball fell to Vardy, who had come on as a 77th-minute substitute. The former England striker drove the ball into the net in trademark Vardy fashion.

Plymouth manager Ian Foster was furious with referee James Linington after his side lost 2-1 at Norwich to stay deep in the Sky Bet Championship relegation scrap.

The high-flying Canaries scored two second-half goals to take the points, after being stunned by Morgan Whittaker’s 10th-minute opener, his 20th of the season.

The second-half comeback brought Linington’s decision not to award a penalty to Plymouth when Alfie Devine went down under a challenge from keeper Angus Gunn under the spotlight, while the official’s insistence that Lewis Gibson went off before the corner that led to the winner was also a bone of contention.

“All we ask is that the officials make the right calls and that wasn’t the case today,” said Foster.

“I thought the referee got lots of decisions wrong and two of them were absolutely key decisions in the game.

“For me it was a clear penalty. Their keeper slid in, didn’t get the ball and took Alfie out – but he gave a yellow card to Alfie.

“For the corner there was a collision between two of our players and immediately the referee calls the physio on – he doesn’t ask if our player needed treatment, which he didn’t, he was fine.

“We have to accept responsibility for not defending set-plays properly – but it was still frustrating.

“I think the loyal fans who travelled all this way to follow their team would have been proud of the performance – I know I am.

“We have spoken about being more ruthless at the key moments in both boxes but overall there were a lot of positives to take from that.”

The match was settled by two goals inside seven minutes, both from right-wing corners.

The first was a set routine, with substitute Christian Fassnacht playing the ball low into the path of the deep lying Josh Sargent, who had the space he needed to sweep home his 14th goal of the season.

Regular taker Gabriel Sara then sent in a more conventional corner to the near past where Sam McCallum headed it on and a deflection off Ashley Phillips took the ball into far corner of the net.

It was a deserved win for Norwich, but relegation-threatened Plymouth gave the hosts a scare by taking the lead after just 10 minutes when Whittaker nodded home Matthew Sorinola’s cross to make it 20 for the season.

“It was a big win for us, especially after going behind so early,” said Norwich head coach David Wagner.

“In the first half I thought we played really well, we didn’t let the goal affect us and created lots of chances without being able to take them.

“In the second half we were not so good and sometimes over the course of the season you have to rely on your set-pieces, which we work on very hard.

“Overall it was probably not at the level we have shown over the past few games but once again the players have put in a shift, shown their togetherness to get the result we wanted.”

Norwich maintained their Sky Bet Championship play-off push as they saw off plucky Plymouth 2-1 to make it seven successive home wins in the league.

The struggling visitors stunned the Canaries by taking in the lead after 10 minutes as Morgan Whittaker headed home his 20th goal of the season.

But David Wagner’s side, who had lost 6-2 at Plymouth earlier in the season, responded well to the setback and two goals in seven second-half minutes, from top scorer Josh Sargent and an Ashley Phillips own goal, settled a hard-fought encounter in which the relegation threatened Pilgrims played their part.

Plymouth found themselves on the backfoot from the off but managed to take the lead from their first attack.

An impressive switch in play from Alfie Devine allowed Matthew Sorinola to make ground down the right flank before crossing for Whittaker to find the bottom corner with a powerful header.

Norwich had a chance to hit back a few minutes later when Sargent burst through but a superb last-ditch block from Phillips snuffed out the danger.

Sargent later hit the post with a deflected drive from a Gabriel Sara corner, while on the stroke of half-time Borja Sainz got to the byline, only to fail to pick out an unmarked Sargent, who would have had a simple tap-in.

Plymouth were largely on the defensive, although they nearly made it 2-0 after 37 minutes when Ryan Hardie skipped past keeper Angus Gunn only to miss the target from a narrow angle.

Norwich continued to dominate after the break and deservedly got back on level terms after 67 minutes from a clever short corner routine.

Substitute Christian Fassnacht picked out the deep lying Sargent with a low delivery and the United States international had the space to sweep home his 14th goal of the season.

The Canaries now had the bit between their teeth and seven minutes later took the lead from another corner.

This time Sara took it and his conventional delivery was headed goalwards by Sam McCallum, with Argyle defender Phillips then inadvertently deflecting the ball home from close range.

Gunn produced an excellent block to foil Hardie as Plymouth pressed for an equaliser before an audacious 30-yard free-kick from Sara hit the underside of the crossbar, with Fassnacht’s follow-up header going just over.

Grant Hanley has withdrawn from the Scotland squad for the friendlies against Netherlands and Northern Ireland as Norwich strive to get the defender back to full fitness.

The 26-year-old has made nine appearances for the Canaries since returning on Boxing Day after eight months out with an Achilles injury.

However, Hanley has missed his club’s last two matches in the Championship after limping out of their defeat at Middlesbrough earlier this month.

It was confirmed by the Scottish Football Association on Tuesday morning that Hanley will not feature in Scotland’s upcoming friendly double-header, meaning he will not have played for the national team for more than a year by the time Steve Clarke selects his squad for the European Championships.

Norwich manager David Wagner said after Saturday’s win at Stoke that, after conversations with Hanley and the club’s fitness and medical staff, they had agreed to “pull him out of team training because he is not as explosive and as sharp as he was when he was on his best.”

“He is a very physical centre-half,” added Wagner. “If he is physically on his best then he is one of the best, or the best, in the division. We have to make sure, and he feels the same, to get him back to that level.

“So we now pull him out of team training and we give him a proper individual programme in the next couple of weeks, or how long it will take, to get back to that level.

“Obviously, we all together know it was a very serious injury and it takes time, even if we are happy that his Achilles is fine. But we have to get him back to the explosive, sharp Grant Hanley he was before his injury.”

It remains to be seen if Scotland will call up a replacement centre-back for Hanley, who won the last of his 48 caps in the home win over Spain a year ago.

Norwich manager David Wagner felt his team were hitting consistent form at the perfect time as they continued their push for a Championship play-off spot with a comfortable 3-0 win away at relegation-threatened Stoke.

Josh Sargent, Gabriel Sara and Ashley Barnes all got their names on the scoresheet as the Canaries made it six wins from their last nine matches.

Victory keeps the Canaries in sixth place – the fourth and final play-off spot – but they are now three points clear of seventh-placed Hull having played a game more.

“One thing is the numbers (the scoreline), but the other thing is the performance,” Wagner said. “I think it was another very, very good performance away from home.

“The guys looked super sharp, super solid defensively, super aggressive and, with the ball, they played some wonderful football, scored great goals and had chances for more.

“They have a lot of confidence at the moment. They’re brave on the ball as well – everybody knows what he has to do and likes to do.

“Obviously, this is why I’m absolutely delighted with what I’ve seen and the shift which the players put in.”

The win comes on the back of a 5-0 home victory over Rotherham last weekend and also ends a run of four league away games without picking up all three points.

“To be fair, I think that we’re able to score (plenty of) goals. We’ve known this more or less from the beginning of the season,” Wagner added.

“But to consistently do it and to do it away from home as well, is always important at this stage of the season.

“Every win – home or away – is super, super important and the players are in good form.

“They do enjoy playing football together. They do enjoy fighting together for every inch, and trying to keep the ball out of the net. And this is exactly what they do now consistently, home or away.

“Obviously, away, there haven’t been so many wins like at home, but performance wise, I think consistently now in recent weeks or months I can say they’ve done it on a very consistent and high level.”

Defeat for Stoke, who had come into the match in confident mood on the back of two wins from their last three games, leaves them just two points clear of the relegation zone.

Manager Steven Schumacher was bitterly disappointed with his team’s display.

“At the end of the day, we lost the game because they were better than us and we weren’t good enough in too many areas of the game,” he said.

“We didn’t do what we have been doing well in the last couple of games.

“I felt we were a little bit too passive – it took us 78 minutes to make a tackle, which is not going to get you any results against a team as good as Norwich.

“We weren’t close enough, we weren’t aggressive enough and when we did have the ball, we gave it back to them a bit too cheaply as well.”

Schumacher was particularly concerned about his side’s response to going behind.

“Once we’ve conceded the first goal, we just don’t see any sort of reaction from the lads,” he added. “It’s like we freeze and everybody goes in their shell – that can’t happen.

“Even if you go a goal down you’ve got to respond and try and do something about it.”

Norwich continued their Championship play-off push with a comfortable 3-0 victory away at relegation-threatened Stoke.

Josh Sargent, Gabriel Sara and Ashley Barnes all got their names on the scoresheet as David Wagner’s side made it six wins from their last nine matches.

Victory keeps the Canaries in sixth place – the fourth and final play-off spot – but they are now three points clear of seventh-placed Hull, having played a game more.

Defeat for Stoke, meanwhile, leaves them two just points clear of the drop zone and still firmly among the candidates for relegation.

Norwich – unchanged from the team that started the 5-0 win over Rotherham last time out – came flying out of the traps, with Borja Sainz’s half-volley forcing a good save out of Daniel Iversen in the opening minute.

Stoke responded well though and nearly took the lead when right-wingback Ki-Jana Hoever went on a long mazy run before unleashing a close-range shot that was diverted against the post by goalkeeper Angus Gunn.

The missed opportunity came back to bite the hosts after 24 minutes as Norwich captain Kenny McLean threaded the ball through to Sainz, who held it up before feeding Sargent to score into an empty net for his 13th goal of the season.

Sargent turned provider for Sainz moments later as the visitors’ confidence grew, hanging up a cross for a volley that was well stopped by Iversen.

And the Canaries doubled their advantage just before the half-hour mark, with Sainz finding Sara, who guided the ball into the corner of the net from outside the box.

Potters skipper Josh Laurent had a great chance to halve the deficit five minutes later, but he could only head the ball over the crossbar from Lewis Baker’s corner.

Stoke continued to battle for a way back into the contest as the second half got underway, with Tyrese Campbell heading over after meeting Baker’s delivery.

But the game was effectively put to bed on the hour mark as Barnes slotted home a rebound after McLean’s effort in the box was deflected into his path.

Iversen denied Sara from distance in the 72nd minute and Sargent from up close shortly after to prevent Norwich adding further gloss to the scoreline.

Stoke came close to bagging a late consolation on a couple of occasions but it was an extremely disappointing day for Steven Schumacher’s team, who had come into the match in confident mood on the back of two wins from their last three games.

Some of the home fans were leaving with 10 minutes left to play and it is bound to be a nervy end to the campaign for them, with eight matches remaining.

Norwich head coach David Wagner praised the attitude of his side after they hammered bottom club Rotherham 5-0 to move back into the Championship play-off zone.

The Canaries were professionalism personified as they ruthlessly dismantled a side who arrived at Carrow Road with eight successive defeats behind them.

“It was a top-class performance, a fantastic afternoon,” said Wagner. “In every game you play you need the players to show passion, hunger and desire and we saw all those things from them today.

“It was a game people were expecting us to win but you have to prepare properly whoever you are playing. We did that and then, from the very first minute, the players were focused, they were really on it.

“We scored some really good goals and defended well to keep a clean sheet. The players deserve all the credit they get after that.”

He added: “I would rather be in the top six than not with nine games to go, but at the moment it is not important.

“From now on I want us to be super ambitious, but very humble, talk less and work more. Because the only thing that matters is where we are after 46 games.”

Norwich wrapped up the points in the first half, scoring four goals as they ruthlessly emphasised the gulf in class between the two sides.

They went ahead after 13 minutes as some poor defending allowed Jack Stacey to get in a cross from the right for an unmarked Gabriel Sara to head home.

Jacob Sorensen nodded in a Sara corner to make it 2-0 after 21 minutes and it was three just past the half-hour mark as Borja Sainz collected a loose ball in midfield and ran unchallenged before lashing the ball home from just outside the box.

Josh Sargent made it 12 for the season on the cusp of half-time, sweeping home Stacey’s low cross at the back post, and Sara completed the rout two minutes after the break, brilliantly volleying into the top corner after Sargent’s effort had been saved by Viktor Johansson.

Norwich took their foot off the gas after that but Rotherham still failed to muster an effort worthy of the name as they slumped to a ninth straight defeat, and their second 5-0 reverse in the space of five days.

“It was a poor performance, a poor result and a poor reaction to the defeat in midweek,” admitted Millers manager Leam Richardson, whose side are 20 points adrift of safety.

“There is a way we want to finish the season, and it is certainly not like this. There were two ‘worldie’ goals in there I suppose, but there was also some bad defending – the first one was just basic stuff which we didn’t get right.

“I picked the side and I take full responsibility. It has been a horrible week for the staff and the players but the people I feel really sick for are the fans who have come all the way to Coventry and Norwich to support us.

“We just need to start picking up some points again. There is a very flat feeling at club at the moment but there are still nine games to go for us to do something about that.”

Norwich got their Championship play-off bid well and truly back on track after a midweek defeat as they hammered bottom side Rotherham 5-0 at Carrow Road.

The Canaries bounced back from a 3-1 reverse at Middlesbrough in the perfect fashion by recording their biggest win of the season, with four of the goals coming in a one-sided first half.

Gabriel Sara led the way with a brace to reach double figures for the campaign while Jacob Sorensen, Borja Sainz and the prolific Josh Sargent were also on target.

For Rotherham it was a ninth straight defeat, and their second 5-0 reverse in a row, and there is now every chance their seemingly inevitable relegation will be confirmed before the end of the month.

Norwich had the game won by half-time, with a mixture of slick attacking play and some abysmal defending from the visitors contributing to the scoreline.

The stage was set as early as the 13th minute when Jack Stacey crossed for an unmarked Sara to head home the simplest of openers.

Rotherham defender Cameron Humphreys contributed to the goal with a weak attempt to stop the ball coming in, and the Millers were all at sea again after 21 minutes as the Norwich made it two.

This time a Sara corner from the right was guided home by the Sorensen for his first goal of an injury-hit campaign, with no visiting defenders near him.

Norwich’s third just past the half-hour mark came from a superb run and strike from Sainz, who won an appeal against a midweek red card on Friday – but again Rotherham failed to put in a tackle or block.

Top scorer Sargent twice went close to increasing the lead before getting his goal on the stroke of half-time, converting at the back post after being picked out by a fast-breaking Stacey.

The outclassed visitors failed to muster an effort of any kind in an embarrassingly one-sided opening period and they found themselves further behind two minutes after the break.

Keeper Viktor Johansson did well to keep out a powerful drive from Sargent but the ball spun out towards Sara who conjured up a brilliant acrobatic volley into the top corner to make it 5-0.

David Wagner’s side tended to take their foot off the pedal slightly after that, with Millers’ substitute Jordan Hugill finally registering his side’s first effort of note with a header which sailed well over.

The hosts had several opportunities to stretch their lead in the closing stages but had to settle for a nap hand.

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick welcomed a much-needed win for his side as they beat 10-man Norwich 3-1 at the Riverside Stadium.

The Canaries went ahead through Ashley Barnes but their dominant opening period was cut short when Borja Sainz was sent off in the 30th minute.

And Boro were able to capitalise, levelling just eight minutes after the dismissal with Marcus Forss stabbing home from close range.

An unmarked Emmanuel Latte Lath then tucked the ball into the bottom left corner just before half-time and Lukas Engel’s first-time effort wrapped up victory in the second period.

Victory saw Boro earn their first Championship win at home since December and Carrick admitted the result was all that mattered.

He said: “It was a good result for us. We needed a win, we needed a result. I think we needed something to go our way, which we haven’t really had much lately.

“The red card is a moment. I thought we were just starting to find our feet a little bit, we found it tough at the start of the game, but we dealt with the sending off really well actually.

“It’s not easy to deal with, playing against 10 men, but I thought the boys approached that really well and the spell before half-time put the game in our direction.

“I haven’t seen (the red card) back, but it didn’t really matter and the performance didn’t have to be perfect tonight.

“We needed to get that feeling back for everyone and the boys especially and I’m delighted we managed to do that.”

Norwich boss David Wagner hinted that the club may appeal against the red card, but would not comment further on the decision.

“I’ve seen it back, but to be fair I don’t really like to give any comments, I like to leave it with the guys who make the decisions,” he said.

“It looks like we maybe appeal it, then this speaks for itself.

“I know that sometimes the angle and vision on the pitch from a referee could be different, then you see it in your way and sometimes the decision is not the right one, if it makes sense.

“But at the end of the day, he gave the red card because he has seen something.”

Norwich missed the chance to climb into the play-off places.

And Wagner was left frustrated on a night when he felt his team had started to produce one of their best away performances of the campaign.

“A frustrating last 60 minutes of the game and a fantastic first 30 minutes,” he added.

“I think the first 30 minutes were one of our best away performances so far.

“We totally controlled and dominated the opponent, super strong in the counter-press, good in the defence, played very good football.

“Got the lead, had the chance to score even more with Dimitris Giannoulis’ chance and Ashley Barnes’ clear-cut chance as well, then obviously the red card changed the game totally.”

Middlesbrough earned their first Sky Bet Championship win at the Riverside Stadium since December by beating 10-man Norwich 3-1.

The Canaries started the game on top and took the lead through Ashley Barnes, but the evening quickly took a turn when Borja Sainz was sent off in the 30th minute.

Boro levelled through Marcus Forss and Emmanuel Latte Lath put them ahead just before half-time.

Lukas Engel added a third in the second half to wrap up victory as Norwich missed the chance to move into the play-off places.

Norwich dominated the opening stages and tested the Boro defence early on when Sainz unleashed a curling effort just around the post.

They nearly had the opener in the 13th minute when a great ball released Dimitris Giannoulis down the left and the full-back found Barnes, who had a first-time strike palmed behind by goalkeeper Seny Dieng.

The early pressure paid off as the visitors took the lead in the 17th minute when Gabriel Sara picked out Barnes on the break inbetween the Boro defence and although the striker stumbled to the floor on his first go, he was able to stick a leg out on the ground to roll the ball past Dieng.

Norwich were reduced to 10 men when Sainz was tackled by Jonny Howson and the winger was shown red after flicking a boot out at the Boro captain.

Boro soon took advantage of the extra player on their first real attack of the game when Forss levelled in the 37th minute. Engel fired the ball into the box for Latte Lath, but the subsequent clearance reached the Finnish forward, who stabbed home from close-range.

The hosts took the lead just six minutes later when Matt Clarke’s cross fell to an unmarked Latte Lath, who easily tucked the ball into the bottom left corner.

Boro continued to threaten early in the second half with some dangerous crosses from both flanks. Angus Gunn made a quick stop to deny Riley McGree’s effort from a tight angle before Howson curled the ball over the crossbar from a free-kick.

Michael Carrick’s side extended their lead out of nowhere in the 62nd minute as Luke Ayling’s pin-point cross from the right found Engel at the far post, who smashed the ball first time underneath the goalkeeper.

McGree then forced Gunn to make a great punch from his powerful strike and substitute Anfernee Dijksteel had a chance saved from close range.

Boro retained possession well in the final stages and nearly had a fourth, but Engel was denied by a quick clearance.

Norwich head coach David Wagner singled out Kenny McLean for praise after watching his side continue their Championship play-off bid with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sunderland at Carrow Road.

Josh Sargent’s late goal earned the Canaries a narrow win and while Wagner was delighted with the American’s display, he felt it was McLean’s contribution that should be highlighted.

He said: “When Kenny woke up on Thursday he was struggling to walk and he was not able to train on Thursday or Friday.

“He had stiffness in the back and full credit to him and our medical staff that he was able to play. He is a top, top professional who does everything he can to be successful, a proper Scottish braveheart!

“Josh also turned in top performance, not just with the goal but the way he linked play and worked hard to close them down.”

Wagner added: “We were up against a good, well-organised team and had to work hard to break them down.

“But I thought it was a deserved win, we created a lot of good chances and also defended really well, restricting them to very few box entries. I was very pleased with the performance and now we have to keep it going.”

The game was settled by an 81st-minute goal from Sargent, who scored for the seventh successive home game and took his tally to 11 in an injury-hit campaign overall.

The USA international shrugged off the attentions of two Sunderland defenders when a Ben Gibson cross came over and when they ball bounced kindly for him swivelled and fired home from close range.

It was a deserved goal for the Canaries who had carved out the better chances.

Visiting substitute Abdoullah Ba hit the woodwork just before the Norwich winner but the hosts were on the front foot for most of the game and goalkeeper Anthony Patterson made a number of good saves to keep them out until nine minutes from time.

The defeat left Sunderland nine points adrift of the top six but interim head coach Mike Dodds isn’t giving up on the play-offs just yet.

He said: “I look back to this time last season when I think we were in a very similar position to where we find ourselves now.

“Then we went on an unbelievable run to take it to the final game of the season and there’s no reason why we can’t do that again.

“I look at the players and I don’t see a group that are giving up on it. They are a group who are really close to turning it around and sooner or later I believe the tide will turn.

“We have now got two matches coming up against two of the best teams in the league and we are really looking forward to it.”

As for the game itself, he added: “Norwich are a really good side, especially at home, and I thought for long spells we nullified their threat, even though we have to do better with their goal.

“Going forward we got into some good positions but we have a lot better quality in the final third than we showed.

“I have got faith in the players but when we got in their area we were a bit tense and erratic.”

Josh Sargent scored for the seventh successive home game as Norwich maintained their Championship play-off challenge with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sunderland.

The USA international struck in the 81st minute as the Canaries finally found a way past a stubborn visiting defence to make it five victories on the trot at Carrow Road.

While Norwich can look forward to an exciting end the campaign, it looks like being a different story for the visitors, with a fourth consecutive defeat leaving them nine points adrift of the top six.

After a cagey start Norwich went close to taking the lead on 15 minutes when Sargent’s first-time drive was deflected just wide by Jenson Seelt.

It then took a superb finger-tip save from Anthony Patterson to thwart Borja Sainz after the Spaniard had latched on to a loose ball when a corner was only half cleared.

These were rare moments of alarm for Sunderland, however, with both sides tending to cancel each other out in a tight opening period.

Pierre Ekwah had two long-range efforts for the visitors, one comfortably saved and the other sailing well wide, and those proved to be their only shots of the half.

Norwich started the second period on the front foot, with Jack Stacey’s right-wing cross almost catching Patterson out and coming back off the crossbar.

The keeper then pushed away a Gabriel Sara shot which was heading for the bottom corner before making a good stop to keep out a fizzing low effort from Sainz.

Substitute Abdoullah Ba cut into the box and struck the woodwork from a tight angle in a rare Sunderland raid but it was the hosts who deservedly broke the deadlock with nine minutes left.

The visitors failed to deal with Ben Gibson’s cross from the right and Sargent won the battle for the ball before lashing it home from close range.

David Wagner was “frustrated” after Norwich surrendered a lead to draw 1-1 at Blackburn.

With Hull and West Brom’s drawing earlier in the day, the Canaries had the opportunity to close to within a point of the play-off places and looked on course to do so after their early superiority was reflected in Marcelino Nunez’s 22nd-minute opener – his first goal of the season.

They could not turn the screw, though, and Blackburn fought back, deservedly equalising through Dominic Hyam’s first goal in 17 months in the 56th minute.

Norwich have lost just once in their last nine outings and are a place and three points behind sixth-placed Hull, and although Wagner felt his side deserved the victory, he was frustrated at the nature of the equaliser.

He said: “Offensively we played some good football, played from our structure, created enough to score more than only one goal.

“Defensively, we put a shift in, we worked hard. Yes we gave one other opportunity away but in general I think it was a good away performance.

“I’m frustrated at the result to be totally honest, not to win this game after the opportunities which we created, after we got the lead.

“To concede off a set piece, off the corner, this is what frustrates a little bit, but at the end of the day the performance was good.

“We have to be focused on the performances because in recent weeks, the players have performed on a very good level.

“Nothing is decided today. We have a lot of games to play, a lot of points to collect. This game is gone, we got a point, we should have got three.”

Since changing head coach Blackburn have stemmed the tide of defeats and have lost just once in five.

Sam Gallagher was denied three times in the first half before Hyam’s equaliser.

Rovers are four points clear of danger, but John Eustace focused on the team’s “character and commitment” to fight back.

He said: “I thought it was a very good performance.

“We were up against one of the top teams in the league at the moment. They’re in a good run of form.

“I thought we created some really good chances in the first half, showed great character to come back in the second half and equalise, which I think is the first time this season at home we’ve managed to do that.

“We’re making small steps forward and I was pleased with the point in the end. I’d have loved three points of course, but again, I thought the lads showed great commitment and character to come from behind.

“To win a game or to stay in games, you have to show that level of commitment and be very difficult to play against. You have to earn the right to play.

“I thought our football at times today was very good. We created two or three fantastic chances from some really good moves.

“It’s about being patient and you can see us growing as a group.”

Norwich missed the chance to cut the gap on the top six after drawing 1-1 at Blackburn.

The Canaries started well and their early possession was rewarded in superb style when Marcelino Nunez curled his first goal of the season into the top corner midway through the first half.

Both sides had chances, though, with Sam Gallagher denied three times in the first half by Angus Gunn, and they were eventually rewarded through Dominic Hyam’s towering header after the break.

A point was a fair outcome for both sides as neither managed to create a clear-cut chance after the equaliser which means Norwich remain three points outside the play-offs after extending their unbeaten run to five.

Blackburn are still looking for their first win under John Eustace but even though they are winless in four, they have not lost in their last three.

The Canaries certainly enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the early exchanges, but it was Blackburn who had the first real opening when Harry Pickering’s 19th-minute corner found Gallagher, whose downward header was parried away brilliantly by Gunn.

That save proved crucial as Norwich hit the front in spectacular fashion three minutes later when Nunez bent a 20-yard free-kick into the top-left corner.

David Wagner’s men almost doubled their lead two minutes later when Gabriel Sara slipped Josh Sargent in on goal but goalkeeper Aynsley Pears was out quickly to smother his low effort.

Gallagher had another chance on the half hour when he latched onto a ball down the left but he took one touch too many and Gunn was able to spread himself to block from a tight angle.

Gunn made it a hat-trick of saves from Gallagher when he palmed his far-post header away after the striker met John Buckley’s searching cross.

The interval came at a good time for the visitors and they almost regrouped to devastating effect when Christian Fassnacht sprung Blackburn’s offside trap but Pears’ outstretched leg diverted the ball to safety just as the Swiss winger was set to take the ball around him.

For the second time in the game, superb goalkeeping proved crucial as Rovers levelled in the 56th minute. Pickering’s deep corner was met by Hyam who rose above three Norwich players to head home from six yards.

At that stage a grandstand finish felt like it was on the cards but surprisingly it failed to materialise.

Canaries substitute Onel Hernandez looked the most likely provider as he first sent in a cross that Ashley Barnes directed well wide, before more trickery saw him centre for Sargent who was just ahead of the pass.

Norwich head coach David Wagner praised a ‘top quality’ performance from his side after watching them beat Cardiff 4-1 to give their Championship play-off bid a further boost.

The Canaries recovered from the shock of conceding first when totally on top to score four goals at Carrow Road for the second time in five days following Tuesday night’s 4-2 success over Watford.

Jamilu Collins put Cardiff in front but Josh Sargent (2), Gabriel Sara and substitute Christian Fassnacht replied to secure Norwich a fourth successive home win.

Wagner said: “The lads played very well, all the departments of our game were top quality.

“We started well and the only criticism I could make was we were not ruthless enough early on. But we stayed calm, kept playing our football and scored some wonderful goals.

“You can see from the way we are playing at the moment that there is a lot of confidence in the group.
All of the players are doing their jobs at a high level and full credit to them for that.

“I was also impressed with the way we defended. Cardiff are one of the best set-piece teams in the league and we didn’t concede a single corner, which was very pleasing.”

Wagner was critical of sections of the support on Tuesday, after a negative reaction to his substitutions, but was delighted with the backing today.

He added: “I thought the fans were top class and full credit to them.

“They backed their team throughout, even when we conceded, and in the end it was a great afternoon for the people in the stands – and the people on the pitch.”

Norwich were dominant throughout but fell behind against the run of play after 19 minutes when Collins squeezed the ball home at the back post after good work from Rubin Colwill.

But the hosts didn’t panic and were ahead at the break.

Sargent got them back on level terms 20 minutes later with a close-range finish after Sam McCallum’s effort had been parried by Ethan Horvath and Sara quickly made it 2-1 by curling a 20-yard free-kick into the far corner.

Norwich wrapped up the points after 54 minutes, Sargent reaching double figures in an injury-hit season as he acrobatically steered the ball home after his first shot had come back off the upright.

Fassnacht later made it back-to-back four-goal home wins when he finished emphatically after being set up by fellow substitute Sydney van Hooijdonk.

Manager Erol Bulut admitted Cardiff had been beaten by a better side on the day.

“They are a good team with a lot of good players and it was difficult for us, ” he said. “I thought we did well to stop them scoring early on and then we got a goal.

“But it was still tough, they kept coming at us and once they got their equaliser and then scored their second and third it was always going to be difficult to come back.

“It has been a difficult spell, the worst of my managerial career, but we have 40 points with 14 games left to play and there is plenty of play for.

“We need to get back to the sort of team we were at the start of the season. This team will come back again – I believe in them.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.