Josh Sargent was the hero as Norwich beat Millwall 2-0 to make it two Championship wins at Carrow Road in the space of four days. The in-form frontman followed up his goal against Huddersfield on Tuesday night with a well-taken second-half double as the Canaries took another big step forward after a poor start to the campaign.
Bottom after three games, Norwich moved into the top six before the weekend fixtures as a result of a deserved win, and are beginning to look like the promotion challengers they were expected to be at the start of the season. Millwall battled bravely but did not look capable of getting back into the game once they had gone behind just after the break.
Dean Smith’s side started brightly, although they struggled to create clear-cut chances against the resolute visitors. Kenny McLean might have done better with an early header from a Danel Sinani corner, while Sargent’s glancing header from a Marcelino Nuñez cross was not too far wide.
But Bartosz Bialkowski in the Millwall goal was largely untroubled and as the half wore on Norwich lost their sparkle, giving their opponents a chance to get into dangerous positions on a couple of occasions, with George Honeyman and Benik Afobe both off target with headers.
While Norwich’s football had been pleasing on the eye in the opening period, there had been a distinct lack of goalmouth excitement and the hosts were quick to up their tempo after the break. They were rewarded in the 50th minute when Sargent played an exquisite one-two with Sinani just inside the box, after being picked out by Kieran Dowell, and lashed the ball past Bialkowski to break the deadlock in emphatic fashion.
Nuñez then curled a free-kick narrowly wide after Sargent had been upended just outside the box, before the lively striker charged down an attempted clearance from Bialkowski and almost tucked away the loose ball. Millwall weathered the storm and fought hard for an equaliser but were largely kept at arm’s length.
Norwich deservedly doubled their advantage 15 minutes from time. Again it was Sargent who did the damage, this time from a swift breakaway as a high clearance fell for Dowell, who calmly slid a pass to his in-form teammate, who steered the ball past the exposed Bialkowski.
Afobe flicked a Murray Wallace header just over from a corner for the visitors, while a piledriver from the substitute Andreas Voglsammer was tipped onto the crossbar by Tim Krul, but the impressive hosts had few problems seeing the game out. After the game, Smith was full of praise for the match-winner.
“I am really pleased for Josh because he came here as a centre-forward and hasn’t had too many chances to show what he can do in that position,” Smith said. “But an injury to Teemu [Pukki] has given him his chance and he has certainly taken it with both hands.
“We have always had belief in Josh, and what he can do for the team, and now I have got to look at getting both him and Teemu in the side and scoring goals.”
Earlier, Norwich had announced plans for a general meeting next month, with Mark Attanasio – an American businessman and principal owner of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team – set to become a new director.