Andrew Omobamidele on target but sorry Norwich lose to Leeds

Canaries remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table with just two points

Norwich City 1 Leeds United 2

This had been billed as Norwich’s chance to breathe life into their season and perhaps, on Halloween, bury a few ghosts. They could not take it, though, and only the wildest optimist would now think they look anything but doomed.

Leeds were nothing special and still bear scant resemblance to the dizzying outfit of last season, but Marcelo Bielsa’s team came out the right side of a frenetic four-minute spell before the hour and ensured that any lurch into crisis mode is at least postponed. Their winning goal, scored by Rodrigo, squirmed through Tim Krul and epitomised an error-strewn first 10 games in which Norwich have only amassed two points.

A better team than the Canaries would have grasped the lifeline thrown by Andrew Omobamidele’s equaliser, which immediately cancelled out a fine solo strike from Raphinha, but they never looked like levelling again and departed to loud jeers.


Early on, proceedings hummed with a tension that spoke of their importance. Norwich’s sporting director, Stuart Webber, had issued a rallying cry during the week in which he rubbished claims they lacked the ambition to fight relegation head on. Webber had also emphasised Norwich need more from their supporters, whose own start to the season has smacked of resignation; they did not exactly create a cauldron this time but sounded eager enough to get behind any improved showing.

It could not have got much worse than last weekend's 7-0 defeat at Chelsea, but Daniel Farke only made three changes and one was the replacement of the suspended Ben Gibson by Andrew Omobamidele. Curiously his two recognised left-backs, Brandon Williams and Dimitris Giannoulis, were both left on the bench; Omobamidele, more accustomed to a central role, occupied the spot.

Any home optimism would have been quelled within eight minutes had Grant Hanley, stretching every sinew to cover after Dan James had rounded Krul, not cleared off the line. James had been put through by Stuart Dallas but, after skipping around the keeper, had a tight angle to work with and it was not a particularly poor miss. Moments previously Ozan Kabak had intervened to stop the returning Raphinha breaking through, and at that point it was hard to see how Norwich could effect any reversal in fortunes.

They composed themselves, though, and came close when Teemu Pukki whipped wide from 18 yards after James’s half-clearance. Pukki tends to gobble those half-chances; it was the signal for Norwich to wrest some control and they threatened again when Kieran Dowell crossed above Milot Rashica’s leap.

Although Rashica looked lively, Norwich were causing most of their problems down the right, Max Aarons getting up from a painful collision from Diego Llorente and surging inside before seeing a shot blocked. Their players had clearly been encouraged to seize some initiative: Kabak, Kenny McLean and Mathias Normann all made driving runs into Leeds territory that, while lacking end product, kept spirits high enough.

Rashica made Illan Meslier scramble from a distance but by half time the pattern had settled into something akin to cat and mouse, anathema to Leeds and Bielsa though that may be. With Patrick Bamford still absent they had opted for a front four full of speed and movement, with Jack Harrison initially a de facto striker, but too many attacks began promisingly out wide before fizzling out.

This was frayed, ragged fare but winnable for whoever could muster some coherence in the second half. Raphinha’s goal came after a turgid first 11 minutes and lit the blue touchpaper in style. James dropped deep to take possession in front of Norwich’s backline and quickly swept the ball to his right where Raphinha dribbled it inside Omobamidele, Hanley and Kabak before keeping his composure to drill low past Krul.

Given Norwich’s lack of direct threat that might have seemed enough, but Leeds had nonetheless looked skittish and they immediately conceded stupidly. In a tight spot near the byline, Meslier got in a mess and conceded a corner; from Rashica’s inswinging delivery, Omobamidele towered above Diego Llorente and planted his first senior goal into the far corner.

Teams in Norwich’s position have seen seasons pivot on less. But then they blew their reprieve and the cost is likely to be severe. A dozy Kabak was robbed by Pascal Struijk but there still seemed little danger when, after Kalvin Phillips took over, Rodrigo had an ambitious crack from almost 30 yards. Krul was behind the ball but let it slip through, perhaps fooled by some late swerve and dip. Nonetheless it was a howler and Carrow Road, briefly close to fever pitch, deflated instantly. A long, long six months lies in store. - Guardian