Norwich stretch Championship lead with seventh successive win at Middlesbrough

Onel Hernandez made it sevens up as Norwich took charge of the Championship.

Seven wins in a row for Daniel Farke’s men.

Seven points clear of Sheffield United in third place.

Seven games fielding an unchanged line up.

City’s swashbuckling side are shouldering the pressure of their Premier League promotion bid.

Hernandez celebrates

Hernandez second half goal condemned Boro to a fourth consecutive defeat, and heap further misery on Tony Pulis.

Boro slipped to eight and look way off a side who can mount a serious promotion challenge.

A place in the play offs is now looking highly doubtful, as a diet of dour play takes its toll.

Norwich, however are maintaining a high energy, brave formula that has seen them 17 goals in their last seven games, and get to the brink of the top flight.

Some City players has up to five days off during the international break, generous of Farke given his fierce work ethic.

But they were resilient on Teesside. It took them 54 minutes to get back to business.

Canaries’ boss Daniel Farke

Hernandez squeezed home a shot from 20 yards, through legs and under boots, to beat the unsighted Darren Randolph.

It was the German livewire’s eighth of an influential season.

The chance was presented after a poor clearance from Ryan Shotton and then Jonny Howson losing the ball on the edge of the area.

Norwich could have been further ahead. They carved Boro apart at will late on, but also needed a goal line clearance from Christoph Zimmerman to keep out a header from sub Stewart Downing.

Ireland keeper Randolph denied Teemu Pukki the opener with a reflex save in the 14th minute and the provider Hernandez then flashed his own shot across goal.

Kenny McLean has a 20 yard volley blocked by Aden Flint. Pukki went clean on goal after a mistake by Shotton but had his shot smothered by a brilliant Dael Fry covering tackle.

A Middlesbrough fan watches on

Tony Pulis is out of contract in the summer and is under pressure as Boro’s season slide away.

Earlier kick-offs dumped the Teessiders out of the top six for the first time since August 9.

They have won at home just once in the league this year.

Will Pulis still be there next season?

Pulis’ team have not looked like they are busting a gut to get to the Premier League but they showed more hunger to do the dirty work off the ball early on before flagging.

Chairman Steve Gibson could have a decision to make as to whether the place needs freshening up, to revive their challenge.

Boro were decent in the opening period, standing firm against the visitors’ Fletcher went close with curling left foot shot as the rain fell.

Jonny Howson pinged a right foot shot over from the edge of the box in a scrappy affair.

After the break a route one long throw from Ryan Shotton was headed by Ayala and grazed the post.

A near miss, just like Boro’s season, and Norwich go all the way.

Saturday’s Championship results

  • Aston Villa 2-1 Blackburn Rovers

  • Derby County 6-1 Rotherham United

  • Ipswich Town 0-2 Hull City

  • Leeds United 3-2 Millwall

  • Nottingham Forest 2-1 Swansea City

  • QPR 1-2 Bolton Wanderers

  • Reading 2-1 Preston

  • Sheffield United 2-3 Bristol City

  • Stoke City 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday

  • Wigan Athletic 0-0 Brentford

  • Middlesbrough 0-1 Norwich City

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