Norwich manager Dean Smith was happy to see his side get their Championship campaign up and running by beating 10-man Huddersfield 2-1 at Carrow Road.
Early goals from Josh Sargent and Danel Sinani settled the nerves for the Canaries, who had started the evening bottom of the table, and they went to complete a well deserved first league win.
Substitute Pat Jones pulled one back late on for Huddersfield, who were forced to play almost half the match with 10 men following Tom Lees’ red card, but it was not enough.
Smith said: “We got the win, that’s the most important thing, but I was very happy with the performance as well and the work-rate too.
“To be honest that’s the way we played in our two previous matches (a 1-1 draw with Wigan and a 2-1 defeat at Hull) but this time we have taken a couple of our chances early on and I am delighted for the lads.
“To be honest we should have scored a lot more and I would have preferred it if Josh had run through and scored rather than being pulled back for the red card.
“Once they went down to 10 men it changed the game and they sat back and waited for a break. They got a goal out of the blue but we saw it out and got what we deserved in the end.”
Teemu Pukki, Norwich’s top scorer for the last three seasons, missed the game with a minor knock but should be back in contention for Friday’s home clash with Millwall.
Smith added: “Teemu had an X-ray after taking a knock on his foot at Hull which thankfully came out clear. But his foot was still a bit puffy to get a boot on so we didn’t risk him.”
Norwich made a bright start and took only six minutes to get their noses in front, Sargent beating keeper Lee Nicholls with a glancing header from a Sinani cross.
The hosts continued to dominate the early stages and made it two after 16 minutes when another incisive break ended with the ball breaking kindly for one-time Terriers loan player Sinani, who coolly worked himself some space before firing home from close range.
The task looked impossible for Huddersfield when Lees was sent off three minutes into the second half for hauling back Sargent as he bore down on goal.
But they defended bravely to stay in the match – with Nicholls making some fine stops – and gave their opponents one or two late scares after pulling one back after 81 minutes.
Norwich were caught short on the break after some neat passing from the visitors and substitute Jones took the ball past the back-tracking Grant Hanley before beating Tim Krul with a well-placed shot.
Huddersfield boss Danny Schofield felt his side gave a good account of themselves after a difficult start to the game.
He said: “We always knew it was going to be tough coming here.
“They may have started the day bottom of the table but they are a quality side and I fully expect them to be challenging for promotion at the end of the season.
“It was a very tough start for us and he found ourselves 2-0 down after 15 or 16 minutes.
“But after that I thought we acquitted ourselves really well and I was proud of the efforts of all the players, especially after going down to 10 men.
“They put a tremendous effort in and at the end we might have even come away with something even though it was a fair result.”
Schofield was pleased with the contribution of 19-year-old Jones on only his third league start.
He added: “He is an exciting player with loads of pace, as you saw with the goal. It is still early days but we hoping he will have a big part to play in the Championship this season.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe