Birmingham 1-2 Norwich City: Onel Hernandez snatches last-gasp winner for Canaries

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Onel Hernandez was Norwich’s hero as they made it four straight wins with a last-gasp 2-1 victory against Birmingham at St Andrew’s.

Hernandez, who spent the second half of last season on loan with Blues, swept home the winner in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.

The 29-year-old Cuban winger’s first goal since scoring for Birmingham in a 3-0 win against Luton on February 12 came after Scott Hogan’s clinical strike five minutes after the break was cancelled out by Andrew Omobamidele’s equaliser in the 63rd minute.

Hernandez’s winner made it a happy return to the second city for former Aston Villa manager Dean Smith, now in charge of the East Anglian outfit.

Before kick-off Blues announced the signing of West Ham left-back Emmanuel Longelo on a season-long loan. The 21-year-old was at St Andrew’s to watch the game.

Blues right-back Josh Williams was yellow-carded early on for a lunging foul on Kenny McLean and he was swiftly followed into referee Keith Stroud’s notebook by Norwich midfielder Kieran Dowell for holding Juninho Bacuna.

Dowell had the first chance, side-footing wide unmarked from 12 yards out from Max Aarons’ cross.

It took a fine intervention by Blues’ on-loan Wolves defender Dion Sanderson to block the danger as Sam Byram shaped to shoot following a loose ball.

That seemed to spark Norwich into life. Josh Sargent’s cross-shot was hacked off the line by Auston Trusty after the striker wriggled through and rounded former Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Blues took the lead in the 50th minute with their first effort on goal.

Hogan tapped home from Bacuna’s left-wing cross, which flicked up off Aarons after Jordan Graham’s chip into space down the line. It was the striker’s second goal of the season.

Four minutes later Blues captain Troy Deeney crashed a fierce, rising drive over the bar from Williams’ cutback from the right.

Norwich drew level in the 63rd minute when centre-back Omobamidele scrambled home.

Ruddy brilliantly tipped away Marcelino Nunez’s curling free-kick, but from the loose ball, Sargent won a couple of headers as it bobbled around a crowded six-yard box before the Republic of Ireland defender slotted home.

Norwich should have scored again soon after but Teemu Pukki side-footed wide from a pullback from fellow substitute Hernandez.

Blues went close to a winner when Marc Roberts’ header from a corner was hacked away by Pukki.

But Hernandez rewarded late Norwich pressure when he finished low past Ruddy after latching onto Pukki’s pass into space after a long ball flicked off Roberts.

What the managers said…

Birmingham’s John Eustace: “We clearly deserved more. I’m really disappointed to lose. The effort of the boys was fantastic. We finished the game with six under-19s on the pitch which is the harsh reality of it, and those six were fantastic. On a positive note, I was very proud of the group. It’s the best I’ve seen them play collectively together. The older boys were really good – Troy Deeney was magnificent, he really led by example and looked after the young boys.

“It was a positive to get Hannibal Mejbri on the pitch. He was exciting and will bring something to the group. Scott Hogan has been sick for the last three days and had been stuck in the house, but at 5pm he declared himself fit and scored a fantastic goal.”

Norwich’s Dean Smith: “I think they still love him [Hernandez] here really! He had a good time last season and played well. He’s a breath of fresh air at times. I spoke to him today about not starting because he’s started the last couple of games.

“He said, ‘listen, I’m a team player – I want to be celebrating at the end of the season having made a contribution’. He certainly did that with the impact he made when he came on. At the moment our squad is deep in terms of offensive options and we’re managing to change games from the bench.”

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