This match report comes from Sam Dalling in the stands at Carrow Road. 

Norwich City 0 Newcastle United 3, Carrow Road, 23/Apr/22, KO:15:00, Att: 26,910

He didn’t want to turn around. And who can blame him. Slowly, and not so surely, Joelinton reversed towards the tunnel, a Samba smile from ear-to-ear.  Eventually he had to disappear, but not before a final wave of acknowledgement.

“He’s Brazilian,” echoed around East Anglia for a good ten minutes after the final whistle. Many choristers were clad in custom made Hawaiian shirts with Joelinton’s face plastered all-over.

100 Premier League appearances, a brace and, most importantly, pure, unadulterated, adulation. Cult status has been cemented previously, but these scenes will never get tiresome.

What a turnaround. Both player, and club. The last time Newcastle and Norwich met, on a cold north-eastern winter’s night, the situation was bleak. Bottom, winless and verging on losing hope. Joelinton was an attacking flop.

Must win, yet in fact a stalemate aided Ciaran Clark’s moment of magnified madness. 33 points, and more top-flight victories in 2022 than 2021 in its entirety, later, and the Samba beat booms throughout Tyneside.

Clark’s idiocy that night saw Joelinton’s accidental transformation into destroyer-in-chief commence. By many metrics,  he is both United’s, and one of top-flight’s Premier midfielders. So successful has he been, this Joelinton’s first start in the forward three positions since.

Predictably, albeit after a sluggish start all-around, he let no one down.

Where one goes, the other follows. Bruno Guimarães, who many felt might be due a rest, added a glossy sheen just after the break. Any notion that there would be a comeback – if indeed that existed- stunted.

Exceptional in just about all areas once again, United’s second £40m Brazilian oozes quality. Tomorrow’s player, for today.

In a parallel universe Tim Krul might be en-route to a Newcastle appearance record. Sadly not, but he has found a new set of suitors. Such have been his levels, Norwich fans will forgive him what Dean Smith described as a boo-boo.

A little more casual than smart, Krul’s attempt to play from the back saw Guimarães nip in, and chip-in. His warm reception from the sold-out (obviously) visiting end had barely ceased. Three in three has been an unexpected return for Bruno.

That meant the most difficult decision for those of a Newcastle persuasion in the ground was what to sing next. Both goalscorers got a fair airing. As did many past favourites, Sir Bobby Robson, Peter Lovenkrands and Shola Ameobi amongst them.

Soak it up, and then go and eat something to soak it up. You will feel better tomorrow.

Two clubs heading in very different directions, passing like ships in the night.  Norwich went all in with a £50 million summer spree. It has not worked. Newcastle’s business came in January, and has been transformative. No meaningful comparisons can be drawn though.

Eddie Howe was expected to bring out the cultivator, and Jamaal Lascelles, Joe Willock, Sean Longstaff and Murphy – returning to his former employer – all became top soil. Well earned rests for Chris Wood, Jonjo Shelvey, Fabian Schar and Miggy Almiron.

Maxi up top? Big Joe up top? No-one knew pre-match. Certainly not Dwight Gayle though. Penny for his…

Initially, it was Joelinton. Then came a switcheroo with Allan Saint-Maximin.  Dividends were instant, Murphy getting around Dimitris Gianoulis. Sideways; sideways; curled into the top corner. A Var check later, and United were one up.

The second was all Guimarães, an eye-of-the needle pass (of the type everyone has already come to expect) sending Murphy away. His low cross was swept in by Joelinton.

There might have been a hat-trick – of which this fixture has sent plenty in recent years – but Krul palmed away. Oh, and one almost forgets Dan Burn flashed a header close in the first half from a Murphy corner.

Speaking of whom, Murphy was a pacy nuisance throughout. He perhaps ought to have opened the scoring, Bruno’s pitch-wedge pass catching Giannoulis napping. The volley was narrowly wide.  He was involved in both goals too, Dean Smith eventually calling for Max Aarons and switching Sam Byram central in a need for speed..

Smith was frank in his assessment. And pretty fair too. Norwich enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges he suggested. There was Kieran Dowell’s early volley over, from Matias Normann’s pinpoint pass.

And their biggest moment came on the break, Pierre Lees-Melou slaloming and somehow keeping his balance to carry away from a corner.

Teemu Pukki has made himself a Carrow Road hero lurking in the space between attack and midfield, before appearing in the blindspot like an F1 driver lacking a moral compass.  From there he rounded Martin Dubravka, but dragged it too wide. Newcastle recovered and Dowell blazed well over. “That’s why you’re going down,” came the cry.

There was no lack of effort, but that is an irreducible minimum in the Premier League. Mistakes, Norwich have made a few, and then again, too many to mention. Plus they lacked bite. Smith does not expect them to go around aimlessly booting shins but not a single yellow card? Something lacking.

Dowell forced Dubravka into a comfortable save from a free-kick, before Pukki flashed wide. A chance to draw level with professional wrestler Grant Holt spurned. Both those chances came at three zip; likelihood is they would have made little difference.

A one-year extension has been triggered on Pukki’s contract, and there is every chance he will keep the yo-yo spinning. He has missed Emi Buendia since the Argentinain’s decision to become a Shelby,  their telepathic understanding at the heart of much of Norwich’s success. It has taken time, but finally they are back with three behind him, Dowell attempting to fill the gap. That bodes well for next season.

Norwich as a club are eminently like-able. And amongst the ownership cartel, a TV chef is non-offensive. But then again, bottom is where they will likely finish. Again.

There is civil unrest too, director of football Stuart Webber irking a few fans with his Walter Raleigh-ing and admission he will only give 90%. He pinned that on the owners.

Smith has worked miracles previously, escaping relegation by a final-day whisker with both Walsall and Aston Villa. The power will have been cut long before then. Mercifully too, some might say.

 SAM DALLING – @SamJDalling