The reading looked anything but a side challenging for promotion to the Premier League as they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of a rampant home side.
Norwich had their chances to win the Championship play-offs all but suffocated by a 3-0 defeat to Huddersfield in mid-week, but they were magnificent at Carrow Road.
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They hit Reading for six in an incredible first half, with Wes Hoolahan and Alex Pritchard scoring two each, and Nelson Oliveira, and Russell Martin also on target. The substitute, Cameron Jerome, and then add salt on the wounds in the 89th minute.
Yann Kermorgant goal of Reading 5-0 was hardly a consolation and Jaap Stam aside, the need to regroup quickly for the challenges to come, even if their position in the top six, seems relatively secure.
“It was just one of those days where all the shots on target seemed to go in, every loose ball seemed to fall to them, even if we don’t have ourselves,” says Stam.
“I don’t think it will have an impact on the confidence of the players and what they can do now is learn from what happened and then move on, because we still have more big games to come.”
Norwich’s caretaker manager, Alan Irvine, who, it was announced Friday, will remain in charge for the rest of the season, was pleased with the way his side bounced back from the Huddersfield defeat.
“I said after that game that I couldn’t defend the performance, so it is only fair that I praise now,” he said. “They have gone about their business superbly well, it was a great performance.
“Keeping in mind the quality of the opposition, I think it is the best display since I’m here. The guys were absolutely perfect in the way they played both with and without the ball and we were able to have a few more goals.”
Norwich took the lead after three minutes. The referee, James Linington, the penalty after Chris Gunter struck Oliveira off balance as he tried to prod the house and the Portuguese striker converted the penalty.
Norwich has not had to wait long for their second. Jacob Murphy’s cross invited the chaos and the ball broke kindly for Hoolahan to fire to the house.
Reading were guilty of the worst defence of the house, added a third on 26 minutes. They were slow to react as the ball ran free for 20 yards, and Pritchard was in no need of invitation to curl the ball over the keeper.
Norwich stretched their lead to six minutes later. This time, Ali al-Habsi has been unfortunate, to make a good save to keep out Oliveira’s goalbound shot only for Martin to tie up loose ends.
Goal No. 5 arrived on 35 minutes when Pritchard picked up the ball 30 yards, ran unchallenged on goal and slipped the ball past the exposed keeper.
Reading reduced the arrears when Kermorgant driven to the home after John Ruddy had blocked Lewis Grabban of the head, but it was Norwich who had the last word in an amazing first half. More poor defending allowed Hoolahan to discuss and tap the ball past Habsi at the second attempt to make it six.
The destination points having long been decided there is less intensity in the game in the early stages of the second half of the Read more involved and tipping over a 30-metre strike from John Swift.
Pritchard twice went close to making it seven times, while the other Oliveira wasted a great opportunity.
Al-Habsi also made a couple of superb stops to deny Murphy and Timm Klose as Norwich regained some of their first-half pace, while Mitchell Dijks header came back off the crossbar.
Norwich scored the seventh goal that they deserved in the 89th minute when Jerome converted a cross from fellow substitute Josh Murphy, with the Reading defence again nowhere.