Middlesbrough crush Norwich

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:38

Middlesbrough crush Norwich

Aitor Karanka’s side showed just why they are being so heavily tipped for a return to the Barclays Premier League with a superb display that saw them rise to second in the table.
In complete control from the moment Patrick Bamford opened the scoring in the fifth minute, Middlesbrough took the points as Leadbitter struck his eighth and ninth goals of the campaign prior to Yanic Wildschut completing the scoring.
Anticipation was high at the Riverside for a meeting of sides occupying play-off places.
The hosts began in the ascendancy, Bamford’s header securing the perfect start.
And Boro would not relinquish control thereafter, with Leadbitter and Wildschut ensuring Saturday’s clash with Bournemouth would be a meeting of the top two.
Karanka’s men started like a team brimming with confidence and could have taken the lead when Ryan Fredericks hit an early volley just over.
But they did not have to wait much longer for an opener, Lee Tomlin playing a lovely through-ball to Albert Adomah – whose cross left Bamford with the simple task of diverting a diving header beyond John Ruddy.
Norwich came back into the game impressively, with the likes of Nathan Redmond and Kyle Lafferty looking threatening.
The pair almost teed up a leveller when good interplay ended with Redmond finding Gary O’Neill, only for the former Middlesbrough man to see his low effort turned around the post by Dimi Konstantopoulos.
That set the tone for much of the opening period, with Lafferty volleying a golden chance over soon after.
And Norwich’s failure to take advantage of those opportunities came back to haunt them as Leadbitter sent Ruddy the wrong way after Russell Martin had felled George Friend in the box.
Norwich, who brought on Gary Hooper at the interval in an attempt to spark a turnaround, continued their dominance of possession early in the second period.
Yet their profligacy showed up again initially, with in-form striker Cameron Jerome hitting wildly over the crossbar after being picked out by Hooper.
Boro would again find a foothold and Leadbitter saw a deflected effort fly narrowly wide.
Fredericks was next to threaten when forcing Ruddy into a fine reactionary save after unleashing a vicious low strike from 30 yards.
Middlesbrough finally grabbed the third their dominance deserved, though, when Tomlin’s wonderful chipped pass allowed Leadbitter to loop a header over Ruddy.
Norwich’s heads dropped thereafter, with the home side continuing to look the more threatening.
And a dreadful night for Neil Adams’ men was capped when Ruddy mishandled Leadbitter’s corner to leave Wildschut to slide a fourth into the empty net.

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