One game, two penalties: Nothing short of a dramatic second half as Middlesbrough’s 10-game unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of Norwich City. It was Norwich’s Teemu Pukki who managed to separate the two sides, despite a bizarre and unfortunate moment from Marcus Tavernier that should have seen the Boro lead.
Middlesbrough had the stronger opening of the two teams during the first half as Norwich struggled to cause any major problems for Marcus Bettinelli in the home goal.
Early pressing from the Boro seemed hopeful as they continued to get themselves up to the away end. Opportunities from Djed Spence, Jonny Howson, and Marvin Johnson gave fans a promising start.
A tame header from Howson and a solid strike from Johnson had us close to the edge of our seats, but unfortunately those attempts were swiftly diverted as Norwich keeper Tim Krul kept calm and collected.
Former Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson also made crucial clearances that pevented the Boro from going ahead. There was a block against a dangerous delivery from Spence which saw Chuba Akpom perfectly placed in the box, shortly followed by the stoppage of a cross into the box from Akpom.
Yet loose efforts from Emiliano Buendia and Lukas Rupp were the closest Norwich City came to scoring in the first half. Thankfully, Bettinelli was able to just stand and watch these attempts go wide, and the impressive defending from Dael Fry ensured vital blockage.
Defence was also strong from Dijksteel and Bola who persistently kept on their men (Placheta and Buendia), despite at times looking like they were all over the place.
Half-time Middlesbrough 0 – 0 Norwich City
The second period saw some desperate defending from Norwich which denied the combination of Tavernier, Akpom, and Spence. This resulted in Gibson bringing down Tavernier, allowing him to step up for a spot-kick and spurn Boro the chance to go in front.
Tavernier approached the spot to take the penalty; sending Krul the wrong way, despite slipping as he kicked it. However, referee Tony Harrington nulled the goal as Tav had appeared to touch the ball twice, leaving the game wide open.
20 minutes later, Hayden Coulsen brought down Norwich’s Max Aarons in the box, giving them the opportunity to put themselves ahead. Pukki stepped up to convert the penalty, slotting himself his fifth goal of the season and putting the Canaries ahead with 18 minutes remaining.
With only 10 minutes left to go we saw Patrick Roberts brought on to replace Tavernier, something that probably should have happened earlier. Yet there was still hope that this would allow Middlesbrough to bag a late equaliser. However, during the remainder of the match neither side caused any threats to their opposing goalkeeper.
With five minutes added stoppage time Boro pressed in an attempt to grab themselves a point, but unfortunately it was time for the unbeaten run to come to an end.
Full-time Middlesbrough 0 – 1 Norwich City