While they may have lost some, the ability to keep certain members of their squad after relegation from the Premier League last season could prove key to Norwich’s hope of a swift return to the top-flight, and Teemu Pukki proved that here.
Two goals from the Finn – which takes him to 50 in 100 appearances for the Canaries – were enough to guide Daniel Farke’s to side to three points that keep them top of the Championship table, against a Blackburn side who gave them all sorts of problems, but after back to back defeats and another failure to beat a team in the top half of the table, may find more questions levelled at their own ambitions to stay the course in the race for the play-offs this season.
It was a bright start from the hosts, who could have gone ahead inside seven minutes when Sam Gallagher’s header from a Barry Douglas corner looked destined for the top corner, only to be brilliantly palmed away by Michael McGovern, still standing in for the injured Tim Krul in the Norwich goal.
From the resulting set piece, Rovers again went close, with the visitors only half clearing, which allowed Harvey Elliott to drive into the area before narrowly dragging a shot wide of the far post.
Up the end, Norwich nearly had an opening of their own, as an Emi Buendia cross from the right slipped through the fingers of Blackburn ‘keeper Thomas Kaminski, and Ryan Nyambe had to be alert to clear the ball to safety.
Indeed, the league leaders not surprisingly looked dangerous in possession, with Pukki inevitably a menace early on for the Rovers defence, doing brilliantly to lift the ball over his man and into the area, only for some good covering from Nyambe and Derrick Williams to prevent him from getting his shot away.
Minutes later, Pukki would Williams on the halfway line to get through on goal, but took too long over the shot, allowing Rovers to get men so that the striker could only fire a tame effort into the hands of Kaminski.
But by the midway stage of the first half, Pukki would have a goal to mark his 100th appearance in Norwich colours, showing the clinical instinct that has made him such a key player for the club to quickly turn and fire under Kaminski from a tight angle at close range to give his side the lead, after Rovers had only half cleared a corner.
Blackburn would go close to responding almost immediately, a short corner routine allowing Joe Rothwell to drive into the Norwich, but his effort across the face of goal was high and wide.
For the hosts, this was a game that felt worryingly familiar to some of their others against teams at the very top of the Championship table, playing well but struggling to take chances and ultimately get punished for it, something that very nearly happened again when Pukki was played in by a short free kick, only to drag his effort wide.
Minutes later, Pukki would go even closer, hitting the crossbar from ten yards after being teed up inside the Rovers area, with Kaminski then reacting brilliantly to deny Sorensen on the follow up, before Pukki himself fired over with the third attempt, as Norwich ended the half seemingly well in control, despite only holding a one-goal advantage, and the amount of possession Blackburn were creating inside their visitor’s half.
Just as they had done in the first half, Rovers started the second strongly, Gallagher again went close only to be frustrated by the crossbar this time, as an absolutely thumping effort from the edge of the area bounced back of the woodwork.
Minutes later, Leiws Holtby produced a good save from McGovern with a half volley from range as the hosts continued to press for an equaliser.
It was a level that would eventually come for the hosts just before the hour mark, thanks to a piece of genius from Harvey Elliott. Picking up the ball out on the right hand, the 17-year-old embarked on an unstoppable run into the Norwich area, beating several opponents before audaciously lifting the ball into the net off a helpless Canaries defender.
But just when Rovers looked to have moved into the ascendency, they were hit by the most agonising of sucker punches, as Pukki brought up his second milestone of the day in somewhat bizarre style.
Picking up the ball midway inside the Rovers half, Buendia elected to try his luck from distance, with an effort that deflected off Pukki on the edge of the area, wrong footing Kaminski and slowly bouncing into the ack of the net to ensure the Finn marked his century of appearances for the Canaries, with his 50th goal for the club, and put Norwich back in front, at that point rather against the run of play.
It would take Rovers some time to respond to setback, although they were at least able to prevent Norwich from really threatening a third that would have sealed.
Eventually, when a chance did come for Rovers, Adam Armstrong could only fire at McGovern from a tight angle after the ball dropped kindly for the striker inside the area.
For their part, Norwich largely looked happy to settle for a one goal victory as they sat back well to soak up the pressure from the Rovers attack, although they could still have had a third, with Kaminski saving well from Cantwell and Sorensen late on, either side of one final chance for the hosts, which Barry Douglas fired off target from the edge of the area, enough to keep Norwich in the driving seat in the promotion race, and leave Rovers wondering if they quite have what it takes to follow them.