Norwich have enjoyed being masters of late goals this season. The final half-hour has been almost as heavenly as it has been brimming with drama for Daniel Farke’s men. Case in point: take away the goals they’ve scored after 60 minutes and they would be sat as low as 19th. But today the masters were schooled at their own game. Two goals in the last five minutes, after an unexpected stoppage in play, saw Derby turn the match on its head.
It was a test of last-ditch strength, which the Canaries must’ve assumed they had the upper hand in when Teemu Pukki celebrated his 81st minute finish to go 3-2 up. But Norwich had an unlikely technical test that followed immediately afterwards, as the game fell into darkness – quite literally. One of the floodlights lost power, forcing the players off the field, before their eventual return resulted in a Derby comeback.
Regular visitors to Carrow Road this year will be acclimatised to utterly bizarre finishes to a game, especially on Boxing Day just 72 hours ago, where Norwich scored twice in the 90th minute complete their own three-goal comeback to draw with Nottingham Forest.
The game here began with the hosts truly in control; Derby retreating into their half as Norwich drove forwards. They weren’t finding it easy to break through, but were efficient once they had, scoring twice with their first two efforts on target. Marco Stiepermann’s quick feet in the box cut the ball back neatly to Ben Godfrey for his first ever goal for the club. The 20-year-old has done well over the last month to fill in at centre-back due to Norwich’s long injury list, and showed competence again today on the left despite the eventual result.
With momentum on their side, the Canaries were quick to strike again just after the half-hour mark, with Teemu Pukki taking two slick touches to control and finish after being put through by Mario Vrancic. There seemed an element of comfort after the second goal that Norwich were finally headed towards a victory they could put to bed early on, instead of chasing it at the dead.
But at 2-0 down, Derby suddenly came to life. As Norwich began to get comfortable, in a matter of minutes the momentum had flipped. Two goals brought the visitors level before half-time, both coming from corners, shocking Carrow Road into silence. As a sea of yellow and green shirts failed to clear effectively, a swift ball back in and a swinging half-volley saw centre-back Fikayo Tomori grab the first back for Derby. The second in stoppage time came from Mason Mount, an equally frail response gave the midfielder time to turn and shoot in the box.
There was a void of decisive action that ensued in the second half, it seemed instead to be plagued with goal-mouth scrambles and wasted chances, but both sides were evenly matched. The Norwich seen at the beginning of the first half suddenly began to surface again with 20 minutes to go, the crowd rising to cheer them forward. Timm Klose came within inches of poking the ball over the line to take the lead in that all important final third of the game, before County shirts piled in at the back post to clear.
Man of the match Onel Hernandez, who’d been a driving force down the left, lead a move that saw Teemu Pukki tuck home his ninth goal in 10 games. With nine minutes of normal time left, it looked to be the winner. But as the ball was carried back towards the middle, referee David Webb was alerted of a faulty floodlight, forcing him to stop the game.
After 20 minutes of waiting, play resumed, and as if they’d planned it all along, Derby equalised. Substitute David Nugent found space on the right to fire a low cross into the box, with another scramble resulting in Florian Jozefzoon bundling it over the line.
As they continued to press, Derby then completed the comeback at break-neck pace, Jack Marriott found space to scoop it over Tim Krul, sprinting away to celebrate. It sent Frank Lampard and his staff into a bouncing huddle on the touchline, the fledgling manager punching the air repeatedly.
The drama didn’t stop there, of course. Yellow cards came out for Derby’s Harry Wilson and Duane Holmes as they continued to do all they could to keep out the hosts in the final minutes. Norwich would still go on to hit the bar, and Todd Cantwell had a shot tipped round the post, but the damage was done.
The away section was flooded with white shirts as the Derby players rushed elatedly towards the travelling fans. The reaction felt like they'd won a cup final, but you can't blame them for what they'd managed to pull off.
Victory means the Rams have opened up a four-point gap, solidifying them into a play-off spot in sixth, for now at least. Due to a defeat for Leeds, Norwich luckily haven’t lost ground on the league leaders, but Farke will have seen this as a chance missed instead of it saving their blushes.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies