Belfast Telegraph

'We're ready for the Prem': Jamal Lewis helps Norwich seal promotion to Premier League

Norwich left-back Jamal Lewis.
Norwich left-back Jamal Lewis.

Norwich and Northern Ireland defender Jamal Lewis has promised that he and his team-mates are ready to step up to the Premier League.

The Canaries rubber-stamped their promotion with a 2-1 win over Blackburn at Carrow Road on Saturday evening.

They knew they had one foot in the top flight before the game but made absolutely sure by turning on the style and recording a win that should have been far more comprehensive.

Goals from Marco Stiepermann and Mario Vrancic put Daniel Farke's side 2-0 up inside 20 minutes, only for Lewis Travis to pull one back immediately for the visitors.

That was how it stayed, despite chance after chance for the home side - but it mattered not one jot as Norwich claimed the three points that left them needing just a point from their final game against Aston Villa to clinch the Sky Bet Championship title ahead of Sheffield United, captained by Lewis' Northern Ireland team-mate Oliver Norwood.

"Our team is so young but so hungry, and we're ready for the Prem," Lewis said on Sky Sports. "It's been an amazing season. It's a moment I'll never forget."

Midfielder Ben Godfrey added: "It's been the best day of my life. So many ups and downs this year and to get over the line is unbelievable.

"We want to be lifting that trophy next week and the boss has made that clear from the start."

It was one-way traffic from the word go and Onel Hernandez fired a low shot just wide on eight minutes before dithering too long after being put in by Emi Buendia five minutes later.

But a packed home crowd only had seconds to wait for the opener. The ball was not properly cleared and broke nicely on the edge of the box for Stiepermann, who drilled a low shot past Jayson Leutwiler for his second opening goal in successive home games.

Top scorer Teemu Pukki and Buendia both went close to stretching the lead before a controversial moment when Darragh Lenihan was only shown a yellow card by referee Andrew Madley after bringing down Pukki as the Finnish frontman bore down on goal.

Leutwiler, on only his fourth league appearance of the season as David Raya's deputy, then made superb point-blank saves to deny first Hernandez and then Pukki but again Blackburn could not clear their lines and Vrancic was able to take aim before arrowing a magnificent 25-yard shot into the top corner to make it 2-0.

Norwich looked in complete command at that point but Rovers quickly dampened the party mood by pulling one back from their first effort on goal. Amari'i Bell worked himself some space on the left and did well to pick out the unmarked Travis on the edge of the box. The midfielder coolly curled the ball beyond Tim Krul's grasp to get his side back in it.

Normal service was soon resumed however, with Leutwiler thwarting Pukki after he looked sure to score from a Stiepermann cutback and Hernandez sending a low shot inches wide of the far post.

The Blackburn keeper made a world-class save to keep out Buendia's audacious deflected overhead kick from just outside the six-yard box after a scramble following a corner, while Hernandez was desperately unlucky when his right-foot piledriver hit the angle of post and bar with the overworked Leutwiler a mere spectator on this occasion.

All Blackburn had to offer was a Bradley Dack free-kick from a dangerous position that sailed way over and Norwich twice went close to stretching their advantage in the 74th minute, as first Hernandez was crowded out after bursting clean through and then Stiepermann was denied by the latest top-drawer save from Leutwiler when his shot looked destined for the bottom corner.

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