TWO goals in the opening fifteen minutes helped Norwich City make their top-flight return at the first time of asking after a polished 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough at a packed Wembley Stadium.
The Teesside club, bidding to restore themselves to the top tier after a six-year exile, were second best to the Canaries and found themselves facing a mountain to climb after going 2-0 down after just 15 minutes.
Norwich almost drew first blood after just nine minutes, when ex-Leeds midfielder Bradley Johnson’s 20-yard strike thundered against the woodwork, but within 60 seconds Boro had also struck the bar, courtesy of a fine long-range effort from Jelle Vossen.
However, the Canaries soon went in front with Huddersfield-born Cameron Jerome profiting from an error from ex-Norwich defender Daniel Ayala before homing in on goal and coolly steering the ball low past Dimi Konstantopoulos at his near post.
Three minutes later a sweet move ended with Stephen Whittaker supplying the impressive Nathan Redmond down the right and the winger – being watched by England manager Roy Hodgson – fired a clinical low strike past Konstantopolous.
Norwich were able to see out the game in relative comfort and while Boro huffed and puffed, they could not find a way through as their Wembley curse continued – it is now five visits to the home of football and no victories.
Patrick Bamford, isolated for much of the game, fired a second-half shot at John Ruddy, and at the other end Russell Martin headed over for the Canaries and the impressive Redmond fired a free-kick off target.
The afternoon belonged to Norwich, who deservedly claimed their £120m Premier League ticket in the process.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopolous; Whitehead (Nsue 46), Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Clayton, Leadbitter; Adomah, Vossen (Kike 68), Tomlin, Bamford. Substitutes unused: Ripley, Forshaw, Reach, Amorebieta, Woodgate.
Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Olsson; Redmond (O’Neil 87), Howson, Tettey, Johnson; Hoolahan (Dorrans 75); Jerome (Grabban 74). Substiutes unused: Rudd, Hooper, E Bennett, R Bennett.