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Chirpy Canaries back in the big time

WE'VE DONE IT: Nathan Redmond and Bradley (right) enjoy Norwich's success

NORWICH’S BLISTERING start ultimately did for Middlesbrough as the Canaries secured an immediate return to the Premier League.

Early goals from Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond established a lead that Alex Neil’s side never looked like relinquishing. Middlesbrough’s Wembley misery endures as the Teesiders were made to pay for early defensive lapses that laid waste to predictions of a tense and cagey affair.

Boro’s defensive parsimony, which delivered them 22 clean sheets in the Championship this term, deserted them as Norwich stormed into a two-goal lead within 15 minutes.

Neil was adamant that his Canaries would not start in the sluggish fashion that had cost them in these sides’ April meeting at Carrow Road, which Middlesbrough won 1-0. Norwich set about their opponents with admirable pace and width. Redmond, starting on the right, was a roving presence in attack, while Middlesbrough could not get to grips with Jerome in the opening stages.

The Norwich forward had seemingly spooked Dean Whitehead, whose poor pass to Daniel Ayala on the right bred further uncertainty that Jerome mercilessly exploited 12 minutes in. He easily muscled Ayala off the ball and casually steered a shot inside Dimitrios Konstantopoulos’ near post.

It was the first time Norwich had breached Middlesbrough’s defence in three matches but it could not have been easier had Jerome been ushered through by the Teesiders.

Three minutes later it was two after a slick 17-pass move. The culmination was Steven Whittaker’s assist, as the Norwich right-back spotted Redmond’s run and the winger made space for himself with a sublime touch before driving a shot across Konstantopoulos.

Prior to that flurry both sides struck the crossbar within a minute. Whitehead served notice of his uneasiness as he clipped a clearance into the path of Bradley Johnson who could not keep his half-volley down.

Moments later Sebastien Bassong was the culprit as Jelle Vossen rattled the Norwich woodwork following his tepid clearance.

The intensity dimmed thereafter, although Middlesbrough appeared too shell-shocked to capitalise. Adam Clayton and Grant Leadbitter had been overwhelmed in midfield and a clearly unfit Patrick Bamford isolated in attack.

Middlesbrough attempted to redress their meagre first half efforts as they attacked the end where their supporters urged their side on but their efforts lacked incision. Norwich maintained their shape and discipline with relative comfort. Vossen was correctly booked for diving and Aitor Karanka cut an increasingly forlorn figure on the touchline.

Ayala almost atoned for his earlier lapse but his free header was blocked by substitute Lewis Grabban in the 81st minute but that was as good as the fight back got before determination slipped into desperation for Boro.

Norwich captain Russell Martin spurned the chance to remove all doubt when he headed over from Redmond’s corner in the 69th minute but it proved inconsequential and the final whistle capped a remarkable turnaround for Norwich under Neil’s stewardship.

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