Norwich crowned champions after victory over Reading
Norwich recovered from an early setback to secure the Championship title with a thumping 4-1 win over Reading at Carrow Road.
The Canaries trailed to a 12th minute goal from Josh Laurent but were level at the break thanks to the first of Kieran Dowell’s two goals.
The first half had been evenly contested but the second was one-way traffic, with Dowell doubling Norwich’s advantage just past the hour mark and further goals from Xavi Quintilla and Teemu Pukki – his 26th of the season – adding icing to the cake.
As it turned out, Watford’s defeat at Brentford would have handed Norwich the title anyway but Daniel Farke’s side took care of their own business in emphatic fashion to secure top spot with one game left.
Having lost their chance of making the play-offs last week, Reading gave a good account of themselves early on and deserved their lead.
Michael Olise chipped a free-kick to the back post after Quintilla had been penalised and Laurent was well-placed to head past Tim Krul from close range.
Norwich gradually worked their way back into the game and Rafael Cabral did well to keep out a low drive from Pukki before Tom Holmes hooked another goal-bound effort from the Finn off the line.
The Canaries continued to press and got back on level terms on the half-hour mark thanks to a big helping hand from the visitors.
Under pressure facing goal, Holmes should simply have cleared his lines but he chose to pass it back to Cabral, whose hurried clearance was blocked by Pukki.
The ball fell kindly for Dowell just inside the box and his deflected effort was enough to beat the keeper, who had been badly let down by his defensive colleague.
It was a good, open game with chances at both ends and Olise wasted a decent opportunity to restore Reading’s lead in first-half stoppage time when he screwed a shot wide after being set up by the excellent Ovie Ejaria.
Emi Buendia fired a low shot just wide as Norwich started the second half strongly, with Cabral then producing three excellent saves to keep out shots from Dowell and Todd Cantwell and a powerful header from Grant Hanley.
For the first time all afternoon the home side looked in control and they carved out another good chance after 59 minutes, with Cantwell wastefully lifting the ball over.
The goal that had been threatening finally arrived after 64 minutes, with Dowell doubling his tally.
The former Everton midfielder was picked out by a delightful lofted pass from Cantwell and steered the ball home from a tight angle to put the Canaries ahead for the first time.
Pukki should have wrapped it up with 15 minutes to go but was foiled by Cabral after being put clean through by Dowell.
This miss didn’t prove costly, however, as Norwich made it 3-1 after 78 minutes, with left-back Quintilla curling in a 25-yard free-kick to follow up his first goal for the club at QPR last week.
The hosts made it four five minutes from the end as Pukki intercepted a woeful back pass from Holmes and coolly took the ball around Cabral before tapping it into an unguarded net.