Match ends, Norwich City 4, Stoke City 1.
Teemu Pukki scored twice as Norwich City replaced Brentford at the top of the Championship with a 4-1 win over Stoke City, their first victory in four league games.
The Canaries dominated a first half in which their blanket possession was rewarded with goals from Todd Cantwell and Pukki - the first a low drive past Angus Gunn after a skip in off the right, the second a close-range tap-in for the Finn after Emi Buendia robbed Morgan Fox.
Stoke, who had a goal by Steven Fletcher ruled out for offside in the first half, did get themselves on the board when Dimitris Giannoulis played straight to Nick Powell, and his low shot beat Tim Krul.
Giannoulis made up for his error with a run and cross that Buendia struck past former Canary Gunn, and after the Argentine was then fouled in the box, Pukki got his second from the penalty spot to wrap up the points.
Stoke's disappointment was compounded late on when defender Nathan Collins had to be withdrawn on a stretcher with a leg injury.
Brentford can climb above Norwich if they avoid defeat by Barnsley in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off.
This was a timely return to form for Daniel Farke's side, after four games without a goal and a three-match winless run, but for Michael O'Neill and Stoke it was another crushing blow to their fading play-off hopes.
The Potters are winless since mid-December, a run of nine league games without a victory which has seen them tumble from fifth in early December down into mid-table.
From the off, Norwich settled into their fluid short passing game despite Stoke's enthusiastic press, with the movement of Buendia, Cantwell and Mario Vrancic opening up space and creating options in attack.
Even Stoke's best chances came from the home side, such as when Kenny McLean blindly played in Stoke striker Fletcher, but despite rounding Krul, his goalbound effort was cleared by home skipper Grant Hanley.
The visitors improved after the break, with Powell and Jack Clarke using the space out wide to get at the hosts' defence.
However, once Buendia struck back quickly to restore the two-goal advantage after Powell had reduced arrears, the game drifted away from Stoke and Pukki's spot-kick left them too much to do.
Norwich City boss Daniel Farke told BBC Radio Norfolk:
"After a dry spell, we were three league games without a goal and today we were greedy to get goals.
"Compliments to the lads, we created more chances than any other club against this very compact and experienced Stoke side, could have perhaps scored even more.
"Four goals I can't complain too much, it was an important win for us. It was good for the mood and the confidence. We wanted to add more ruthlessness in the final third, we wanted to be fully committed and we were."
Stoke City boss Michael O'Neill told BBC Radio Stoke:
"You never like to lose a game but I thought - while the scoreline wasn't harsh because we gave away opportunities, didn't defend well enough and got punished - we had good chances in the game.
"It could quite easily have been 2-2 before the third goal was scored, but we missed chances and against this level of team you get punished.
"We didn't look like we could deal with their movement up front, and it caused us a lot of problems."
- 20SkippSubstituted forSørensenat 81'minutes
- 17BuendíaSubstituted forDowellat 85'minutes
- 8VrancicSubstituted forRuppat 71'minutes
- 14CantwellSubstituted forHernándezat 82'minutes
- 22PukkiSubstituted forIdahat 85'minutes
- 37CollinsSubstituted forat 90+3'minutes
- 4AllenSubstituted forThompsonat 82'minutes
- 13ObiBooked at 43minsSubstituted forMcCleanat 62'minutes
- 47ClarkeSubstituted forMatondoat 45'minutes
- 22ClucasSubstituted forCousinsat 82'minutes
- 25PowellBooked at 42mins
- 21FletcherSubstituted forVokesat 71'minutes
- Jeremy Simpson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Norwich City 4, Stoke City 1.
Nathan Collins went off injured after Stoke City had used all subs.
Substitution, Norwich City. Adam Idah replaces Teemu Pukki.
Substitution, Norwich City. Kieran Dowell replaces Emiliano Buendía.
Jacob Sørensen (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Morgan Fox (Stoke City).
Substitution, Stoke City. Jordan Thompson replaces Joe Allen.
Substitution, Stoke City. Jordan Cousins replaces Sam Clucas.
Substitution, Norwich City. Onel Hernández replaces Todd Cantwell.
Substitution, Norwich City. Jacob Sørensen replaces Oliver Skipp because of an injury.
Goal! Norwich City 4, Stoke City 1. Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Penalty Norwich City. Emiliano Buendía draws a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty conceded by Joe Allen (Stoke City) after a foul in the penalty area.
Attempt saved. Lukas Rupp (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Todd Cantwell.
Foul by Emiliano Buendía (Norwich City).
Nick Powell (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. James McClean (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Nick Powell with a headed pass.
Substitution, Stoke City. Sam Vokes replaces Steven Fletcher.
Substitution, Norwich City. Lukas Rupp replaces Mario Vrancic.
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