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Magic Mario moments. This was one to savour, and grabbed another precious point toward promotion. Here's Di Cunningham bringing you all the juicy bits from a memorable night at the Carra...
Random star performer
In any other game Mario Vrancic's majestic free kick would merit 'cultured strike of the day'. But unlike the first home game for Alex Neil's relegated side in August 2016 when Forestieri refused to travel with the rest of the Wednesday squad, yesterday he showed up. And how. Not for the first half hour when he barely broke into a jog, showing little interest in his first Owls start for months. Maybe being on the pitch was just too dull in comparison with Fernando's off-field dramas. He was recently the subject of an arrest warrant for a court appearance to answer a racism charge (the FA are still considering their own response). He was also on Marcelo Bielsa's shopping list in the January transfer window and Leeds fans were in raptures about him on social media last night. As in fact was anyone who appreciates great football. And the admiration extended to many in the home stands at Carrow Road last night; as we stood and applauded an away goal. Galvanised by who knows what at 33 minutes in, Forestieri rescued the ball he almost lost to Tom Trybull and executed a sweetly timed screamer that travelled a third of the length of the pitch and dipped into the left hand bin - unsaveable even by Timmy Krul. Brilliant, and we're privileged to have seen it. Good news too this morning as Fernando tweeted his support of the #Enough campaign.
Moment of the match
Not a great career moment for referee Geoff Eltringham - or game day experience for any Yellows - but it coloured the rest of the 90 +. Tim Krul had been unable to get a glove to Forestieri's long range worldy but made a series of fantastic stops, including another excellent attempt from the same player and a full length parry of a close range shot by Fletcher. The foiled frontman didn't so much as clutch at straws as at the ball and spooned it into the goal with his left palm. Krul protested, incensed that neither ref nor lino called the cheating sleight of hand, was booked and the goal stood. Given the Wednesday keeper's earlier hand-ball incident (see Bruce watch below) the crowd now expressed their lack of confidence in the officials and the rest of Geoff's watch was governed by the justifying/balancing out decisions narrative. Which may in turn have influenced the call for the free-kick with which Vrancic equalised in the 97th minute. It all balances out in the end? Mmn. There'll be VAR in the Prem - jus sayin
Bruce watch - Farke watch
Westwood had been injured in the warm up, elevating reserve keeper Cameron Dawson to the starting line-up. So no back-up on the bench when the officials were reflecting on the correct response to Dawson's handling outside his area. Hernandez and Pukki were ready to pounce on Zimbo's recycled ball but ultimately the 'clear goal scoring opportunity' criteria weren't deemed to have been met. While awaiting the decision Steve Bruce stood frozen on the touchline, clearly petrified that the card would be red not yellow and that his team would play the remaining 80 minutes of the game with 10 men and an outfield player in goal.
Farke showed an equivalent lack of animation in the 97th minute of the game but his look was more shit hot than shitting it.It reminded me of that film technique used in rom coms for of one of those existential moments of reflection - where the contemplative subject is still and the other characters whirr past at speed - while Canaries subs and support staff exited the dug-out to join Mario in euphoric (and I'm sure Adrian Durham would add 'unprofessional') celebration, Daniel alone remained seated and impassive, kept cool perhaps by a sense of triumphing over injustice.
Biggest positive to take
In simple mathematical terms, in the context of Leeds having lost to Wigan the one point return on the game was massive. More importantly the psychological boost of a team managing to overcome serial misfortune and administrative ineptitude through team work, sheer determination and a phantasmagoria of individual skills will surely see promotion delivered to this squad in the next week or so.
Having dispensed with shortcomings in officialdom above I am left with very little to lament. The whole game played out like something from a vintage football comic, fans and players of both teams participating to the max, with the officials as panto villains and everyone playing their roles. Classic stuff. It's hard even to take issue with the change in KO time (again!) as the scene was set by results of matches played earlier in the day. One of my regular moans has been about moaning itself -the minority of fans who critique Farke's team selection or sub deployment. My feeling is that this guy has delivered unbelievable football and results from a bunch of unknowns that he in part has sourced, so who is anyone to take issue with him? Just maybe though we should be seeing more of Mario in the last 3 games, and just maybe Timm could have usefully contributed earlier yesterday - one key difference was that we were far weaker aerially - we had 13 corners to their 2 and made very little of them.
The feel last night was truly epic: from the legends Surf Banner to the full complement of flags across Upper as well as lower Barclay and incursions into South, River and City stands. I'm almost concerned that the Fussballfan Zeitgeist has peaked too soon - can the vibe, the singing, the scarf waving continue to build for the Blackburn game? Will we get the odd flag into the Geoffrey Watling? Special mention for the immense reception for Brazilian Canary Lucas and German Canaries as well as all the other bands of supporters taking part in the half time Global Canaries parade.
Most matches these days I find myself verbalising internally (and probably externally too, apologies neighbours home and away), that 'we will wear them down' and 'the lads'll pile on the goals on in the second half '.As usual I thought it again yesterday - and it didn't happen. Maybe Bruce had prepared his players or perhaps snapping out of the 'don't send Dawson off!' trance generated a wake up call to be delivered at half time. Because after the break Wednesday forgot the backing off and sitting deep and played us at our own game with pressing, possession and short passing and frankly their legs looked more tired in the first half. And sure Forestieri scored a wonder goal. But we don't do pedestrian - fabulous goals from both Stiepi and Mario alongside grit, character and resolve were evident in abundance from a team that deserves a place in the best league in the world.
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The Canaries head north to face pre-season promotion favourites Stoke City. They're not favourites now though and somebody else is... Andrew Lawn spoke to Anthony Bunn from DUCK Magazine for the lowdown on what appears to have been a real low point in Stoke's history