Quick Job punishes Norwich

Middlesbrough 2 - Norwich 0
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The Independent Online

On Boxing Day, after defending commendably for 70 minutes against Spurs, Norwich suicidally conceded two goals in less than four minutes and lost. Yesterday, they went one better. Having held a ragged Middlesbrough at bay for 50 minutes,Norwich conceded two in less than three minutes and dropped into the bottom three.

On Boxing Day, after defending commendably for 70 minutes against Spurs, Norwich suicidally conceded two goals in less than four minutes and lost. Yesterday, they went one better. Having held a ragged Middlesbrough at bay for 50 minutes,Norwich conceded two in less than three minutes and dropped into the bottom three.

Both goals were scored by Joseph-Desiré Job in unchallenged circumstances which were very disappointing given the earlier defending.

"Our work-rate and commitment you can never fault, and I was very pleased with the first half when we limited Boro to very few chances," Nigel Worthington, the Norwich manager, said. "Then there were two moments of madness. We've got to learn that the game's for 90 minutes not 88."

The Cameroonian, standing in for Mark Viduka, doubled his season's league tally and was just the job for sixth place Middlesbrough whose manager, Steve McLaren, had beforehand called for a mid-season break. His players took him too literally and barely turned up for the first half. Indeed, even after Job's double, it was Norwich who had clearer chances to score.

"Norwich came with a game plan and made it very difficult for us. But it was a big win, a big three points especially as we have two very tough ones coming up," said McLaren. "Now we can look forward to Manchester United here on New Year's Day."

In the first half, and before a record crowd, Middlesbrough spluttered like a machine in need of oil. Lay-offs fell behind their intended recipients, passes went wide, first touches went miles and runs went unseen. Stewart Downing swung in three juicy crosses, but no one bothered to attack them.

Norwich's stifling five-man midfield did not help, but the real spanner in the works was Canaries' centre-back Gary Doherty who slid, buffeted and barged into anything that moved. This included his own midfielder, Thomas Helveg, whom he bashed so hard with his head that the concussed Dane could not continue. He was replaced in the 12th minute by Jim Brennan. Norwich, suffering grievously from injury problems, had already been forced to give a first Premiership start to 18-year-old Ryan Jarvis.

The second half opened with Job's goals. His first was an uncertain tap in at the back post when unmarked from Downing's free-kick. His second was a confident sidefoot that threaded the ball through the eye of the needle that was the gap between Robert Green's legs, Franck Queudrue's long low pass having opened up Norwich with embarrassing ease.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Reiziger, Southgate, Cooper, Queudrue; Nemeth (Morrison 78), Parlour, Zenden, Downing; Job, Hasselbaink. Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Doriva, Davies, McMahon.

Norwich City (4-5-1): Green; Edworthy, Fleming, Doherty, Drury; Huckerby, Bentley, Helveg (Brennan 12), Mulryne, Jarvis (Crow 74); McKenzie. Substitutes not used: Gallacher (gk), McVeigh, Shackell.

Referee: H Webb (S Yorkshire).

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