Norwich 0-1 Derby: Late Wayne Rooney magic hands Rams first points

Report from the Sky Bet Championship clash at Carrow Road

By Matt Storey

Saturday 3 October 2020 14:48, UK

Wayne Rooney’s fantastic free-kick handed Derby their first points of the season with a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory at Norwich.

The former England and Manchester United forward stepped up to bend in a beauty from 25 yards with just three minutes remaining to help ease the pressure on boss Phillip Cocu.

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It rounded off the perfect away performance for the Rams but they did ride their luck at times, with Teemu Pukki slipping as he missed a penalty shortly after half-time and David Marshall making two world-class saves.

Derby move up to 18th while Norwich drop to 13th on goal difference ahead of the 3pm kick-offs.

How Derby stole it at the death

Norwich started quickly at Carrow Road and, with Derby utilising a back three for the first time, the visitors looked to be sitting far too deep and inviting pressure.

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Max Aarons on the right and Xavi Quintilla were finding themselves in acres of space down the flanks, but failed to put in any balls of real quality.

Marco Stiepermann’s low effort from the edge of the box on seven minutes was the only shot on target during a dull first half and that was comfortable for Marshall.

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The best chance came two minutes after that however, as confusion among the Rams’ three centre-backs saw Pukki played onside as Emi Buendia slipped him through. Pukki looked up and tried to square the ball for Onel Hernandez at the back post, only for the excellent Nathan Byrne to slide in and deny the winger a certain goal.

Derby grew into the game and pushed up the pitch after a nervy looking first 15 minutes and looked threatening when Duane Holmes was on the ball. He set up a chance, lofting the ball over the top for Rooney, who failed to get a decent connection with a first-time volley on his left foot.

Norwich were handed the perfect opportunity to take the lead seven minutes after the break as George Evans blocked Hernandez’s shot with his hand. But the wet conditions saw Pukki’s standing feet slip as he went to strike the ball and his scuffed effort was looped up and drifted over the bar.

The game rather drifted after that until both keepers were called into action to make their first real saves of the game in quick succession.

First, Derby sub Whittaker carried the ball from the halfway line right to the edge of the Norwich box and let fly with his left foot. Tim Krul had to be alert to dive to his left and push the fierce strike away with a strong left hand.

But Marshall bettered that with a fantastic save to deny Aarons with 12 minutes left on the clock. Mario Vrancic clipped the ball to the back post, where the right-back had ghosted in unmarked and made a clean connection with his right boot. His effort looked destined for the roof of the net before the Scot’s strong hand pushed it over.

And that save looked even more important as the clock ticked into the 87th minute. The excellent Jason Knight was hauled down by Lukas Rupp near the edge of the D and there was never any doubt that Rooney, who was about to be subbed, would stay on to take the free-kick. That he did, bending the ball over the wall and into the top right corner of Krul’s goal, leaving the Dutchman with no chance.

Marshall was called upon again before normal time was up however, as his fingertips managed to divert Jordan Hugill’s goalbound header wide of the post and Cocu breathed a sigh of relief in the technical area.

The victory means the pressure is relieved on the Dutch boss over the international break, while Daniel Farke must pick his troops up after back-to-back defeats.

Man of the match – Curtis Davies

Experienced centre-back Curtis Davies was brought into the side for the first time this season and defended brilliantly at the heart of Derby’s back three.

Sky Sports pundit Darren Bent said: “He came into the team and was absolutely superb. He headed everything, put his body on the line with big blocks and was a real leader at the back.

“It’s a masterstroke from Phillip Cocu to put him into the side after they conceded lots of goals in their opening games. He really made a difference.”

What’s next?

Following the international break, Norwich travel to Rotherham on Saturday October 17th, while Derby host Watford on the Friday night, live on Sky Sports Football.

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