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Pukki edges Norwich closer to Premier League return

Pukki edges Norwich closer to Premier League return
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Prolific striker Teemu Pukki’s 27th goal of the season edged Norwich closer to a return to the Premier League as they came from 1-0 down to draw 1-1 with Championship strugglers Wigan.

Teemu Pukki

Teemu Pukki

The 29-year-old Finnish international’s delightful finish nine minutes from time gives Norwich a four-point advantage over Leeds United with four games remaining.

Leeds — seeking a return to the Premier League for the first time in 15 years — moved into the second and last automatic promotion spot on Saturday due to a deserved 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday.

Wednesday’s city rivals Sheffield United had been held to a 1-1 draw on Saturday leaving them three points adrift of Leeds.

Leeds had been the big winners of the week in the enthralling battle for promotion having won two on the trot whilst Norwich and United dropped four points.

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Norwich, though, remain in the box seat and require just six more points from their remaining four games to go back up to the Premier League.

“We were struggling a lot today, it was a hard, hard game so it was important to come out with at least one point,” Pukki told Sky Sports.

“I don’t think it’s comfortable. We just need to keep going and it’s good we have a game on Friday (they host Sheffield Wednesday) so we can keep winning again.”

Wigan had broken the deadlock as half-time neared — xx penalised for handball.

Reece James made no mistake from the spot — although ‘keeper Tim Krul went the right way and got a hand to it — for his second goal in three games.

The hosts went close to doubling their advantage in the 65th minute on the counter-attack — after Pukki’s appeals for a penalty had been turned down — saw Leon Clarke turn the Norwich defence inside out but Canaries goalkeeper Krul denied him by getting the slightest of touches to his shot to deflect it away for a corner.

James also went close first with a superb long range effort which just scraped the bar and then with a freekick although Norwich too had their moments largely through Pukki.

However, having wasted a few chances Pukki made no mistake when found by Kenny McLean, he outpaced a defender and cooly slid it right-footed past Wigan goalkeeper Christian Walton.

Wigan thought they had taken the three points in time added on but Leon Clarke was adjudged to be offside.

James though was content to have at least a point against the table toppers and give them a two point advantage over third from bottom Rotherham.

Millwall and Reading are also embroiled in the fight to avoid filling the final relegation spot — Bolton look destined to join Ipswich Town in the third tier as they are 10 points adrift of safety.

“The league table is there but anyone can beat anyone,” James told Sky Sports.

“That’s why it’s a fantastic league.

“Points in this league are massive when you’re down there fighting.”


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