Pre Match news
Sven-Goran Eriksson decided to mix things up for the cup tie, bringing in a host of younger and fringe players for the all-City Carling Cup tie following on from victory at Bristol in the previous round.
Georgios Samaras made his first appearance of the season, and Geovanni was in for his first start since Ashton Gate. Shaleum Logan, Joe Hart, Michael Ball, Sun Jihai and Gelson Fernandes were also in, with Richard Dunne partnering Onuoha in central defence. Ched Evans, Sam Williamson and Kelvin Etuhu gave the bench a youthful feel.
There was a welcome return for Lee Croft to his former stamping ground, but no place for ex-Blue Darren Huckerby.
The Blues looked lively early on, and good control from Geovanni doing well before being fouled on the edge of the box on eight minutes. Ball and Ireland stood over the ball, and it was the left back who bent it around the wall, forcing Marshall into making a good save as he pushed it around his right post.
Ireland, Geovanni and Ball combined well after quarter of an hour to set up Bianchi, with the Italian putting his shot on the turn into the side netting.
Norwich’s first chance came courtesy of the former City man in their ranks after 20 minutes. Lee Croft crossed from the right, the ball just missed Brown but Cureton should have done better than to put it high over Joe Hart’s bar.
Georgios Samaras linked up with Ireland, who had done well to win the ball in midfield, on 25 minutes and his cross was only just in front of Bianchi inside the box.
A minute later it was Joe Hart’s turn to keep the scores level. Norwich were awarded a direct free kick right on the edge of the box in almost dead centre, and the England Under 21 stopper had to make a smart parry to his left from John Otsemobor’s effort, curled around the left of the City wall.
Logan brought a much-needed injection of pace down the right flank on 38 minutes, his long pass found Samaras, who cut in from the left and forced a low save from Marshall as he shot with the outside of his right boot.
As we entered stoppage time before the break the lively Geovanni broke to the by-line and crossed, and had Samaras got anything on the ball the Blues would have gone in a goal up at half time, but it remained 0-0.
The game seemed to step up a notch after the break, and the City crowd were on their feet when they felt Lee Croft was offside. The flag stayed down and the winger was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle by his former team mate Nedum Onuoha.
Samaras made it to the by-line just after the hour but his good work could not be finished off, his pulled-back ball going back to the visitors. Sun Jihai cut in from the right not long afterwards but put his shot a long way over the bar.
Kelvin Etuhu made his senior debut when he replaced Fernandes with 23 minutes left, his brother Dickson having last appeared for the Blues in December 2001. Another Academy graduate, striker Ched Evans, made his own debut when replacing Geovanni on 79 minutes.
Etuhu came close to making the dream start to his City career with eight minutes left, latching on to a mistake in the Norwich defence to send a right footed shot just over Marshall’s bar.
Samaras’ cross on 88 was chested down by Ireland, but Bianchi could not keep his volley down and Marshall was untroubled.
But just as everyone was anticipating extra time, City finally broke the deadlock with a sublime goal. Kelvin Ethuhu put a slide-rule pass through to Georgios Samaras, and the Greek striker placed the ball to Marshall’s left with the Norwich keeper stranded.
Bianchi wasted a great chance when one-on-one in stoppage time, but credit to Marshall for making a good block from the Italian’s effort. So a tense evening ended finally with the Blues through to the fourth round for the first time in four years.