Norwich put aside their current Premier League woes to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2011-12 via an impressive away win at fellow top-flight side Burnley.
The Canaries are six points adrift at the bottom and made seven changes for Saturday’s tie, which attracted a crowd of just 8,071 to Turf Moor but showcased some excellent attacking football, mainly from the visitors.
After missing a number of clear-cut chances in the first half, the Canaries took the lead through a Grant Hanley header from a free-kick before Josip Drmic marked his first City start with a goal three minutes later.
Burnley had missed chances of their own but hit back when Erik Pieters fired in from the edge of the box.
But the Clarets were unable to find a leveller as City demonstrated a stubbornness that will serve them well if they can transfer it consistently to their league performances over the rest of the campaign.
They will discover their fifth-round opponents when the draw is made on Monday night on The One Show on BBC One.
Norwich find comfort in the cup
Firmly rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table, Norwich has more pressing matters to attend to this season.
But free of the pressures of playing for their top-flight survival and perhaps seeing this as something of a free hit, the Canaries tore into this encounter, producing a display full of attacking intent, although it did initially lack the kind of clinical finishing that the benched Teemu Pukki and absent Todd Cantwell would have brought to proceedings.
Pukki’s replacement, Drmic, could have scored twice in the opening three minutes but fired one effort wide of the post and struck a second against the crossbar, although a late flag would have ruled out the latter had it gone in.
Then, somehow, Sam Byram failed to find the net after getting in down the right, with James Tarkowski chesting his shot off the line, before Onel Hernandez and Lukas Rupp drew fine saves from Hart with a swerving long-range drive.
But they were shown the way in the second half by the unlikely figure of Hanley, who landed the first punch of a devastating quick-fire one-two from which the home side was unable to fully recover.
Drmic couldn’t miss for the second, poking the ball into an empty net from near point-blank range after Joe Hart had parried Rupp’s chipped effort.
It wasn’t as comfortable as they would have hoped for the remainder thanks to Pieters’ contribution, but they continued to press forward and could well have had the final word had Hart not produced a fine low save to block a shot from the freshly introduced Pukki.
The Clarets came into this game in arguably their best shape of the season following back-to-back Premier League wins against Leicester and Manchester United.
They made two changes fewer than the visitors, retaining the strikeforce of Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez that served them so well at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
But they lacked their usual creativity out wide in the absence of the rested Dwight McNeil and were unable to match Norwich chance for chance.
That said, they could easily have led in the game, but Rodriguez placed a shot too close to Ralf Fahrmann in the early stages and Tarkowski headed against the crossbar from a corner.
Pieters gave them hope when he lashed in a fine strike from the edge of the box with 18 minutes left, but they were unable to follow it up as the visitors had their own first goal.
The FA Cup has not been great to Burnley, with them last lifting the trophy in 1914 and only making it to the quarter-finals once since 1983.
It was perhaps this record and the fact that the Clarets have more important matters still to deal with in the Premier League that convinced many of the regular supporters to give this a miss, with Turf Moor just over a third full.
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Leicester held off a spirited second-half effort from Championship promotion chasers Brentford to reach the FA Cup fourth round in the final tie to be held at Griffin Park.
Kelechi Iheanacho scored the only goal of the game after just four minutes when he tapped in a cross from full-back James Justin, who had been found by Dennis Praet’s superb raking pass.
Leicester was the better team in the first half and Ayoze Perez should have doubled their lead when he was sent clear by Iheanacho but Bees keeper Luke Daniels made a good save to deny him. read more
Source – BBC