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Norwich City 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday: Championship leaders rescue point against Owls

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Mario Vrancic’s free-kick saw Norwich stretch their lead to five points at the top of the Championship

Championship leaders Norwich rescued a point deep in stoppage time against Sheffield Wednesday courtesy of Mario Vrancic’s wonderful free-kick.

It looked as though Wednesday would come away with a surprise win when Steven Fletcher controversially bundled in a cross with his left hand earlier in the second half.

Marco Stiepermann had given Norwich the lead in the first half before Fernando Forestieri struck a superb individual effort from 30 yards for the equaliser.

Norwich have a five-point lead over both Sheffield United and Leeds United with three games to play. Another five points would be enough to secure their promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since relegation in 2016.

Their third draw in as many games actually saw them stretch their lead by a point after Wigan beat Leeds 2-1 earlier in the day.

The Canaries travel to Stoke City on Monday while Leeds are at Brentford and Sheffield United are away at Hull City.

Substitute Vrancic stepped up with the goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time to preserve Norwich’s 11-match unbeaten run.

After he had been tripped by Marco Matias on the edge of the penalty box, he produced a pinpoint curling effort into the top-right corner.

Aside from Fletcher’s scrappy effort at 2-1, it was a game of stunning goals with Stiepermann’s low powerful drive and Forestieri netting arguably one of the goals of the season midway through the first half.

The Italian’s stunning long-range effort flew past Tim Krul into the top-left corner. But the Netherlands goalkeeper was able to deny Forestieri a second with two brilliant saves from more stinging strikes in the second half.

A point for Wednesday sees them climb a place to 11th, but manager Steve Bruce was visibly frustrated at full-time after only five minutes additional time had been indicated by the fourth official.

They are now seven points behind sixth-placed Middlesbrough with nine left to play for.

Norwich City manager Daniel Farke told BBC Radio Norfolk: “I have no words for these lads, for the spirit in this dressing room and the fight they showed out there on the pitch tonight.

“Like the last game, it was again the feeling like everything was against us, so we had to fight not only against 11 opponents but crucial decisions and moments.

“These lads never know when they’re beaten and this attitude and mentality helps us bring it over the line.

“It was totally deserved as there was a brilliant attitude to keep going right until the end.”

Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce told BBC Radio Sheffield: “I don’t know why the referee plays five minutes added time. I don’t know where that comes from as there hasn’t been a physio on the pitch as far as I can remember.

“He’ll say he added 30 seconds for a substitution, but it’s probably taken them five seconds as they were trying to get him on for a corner.

“But, I don’t think it was a foul for the free-kick either. All night, I think his (the referee’s) decisions were poor and he’s got to do better than that.

“To not look at your watch and to give them that sneak at the end, makes it a dramatic finish for Norwich and obviously we’re really disappointed.”

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