David Wagner criticised his Norwich players for ‘losing their heads’ and ‘doing everything wrong’ as they slipped to a second consecutive 1-0 defeat in a fiery Championship clash at 10-man Millwall.
Tom Bradshaw grabbed the decisive strike in the first half at a rocking Den as the Canaries were unable to convert sustained spells of possession into clear-cut chances.
Millwall saw George Saville shown a late red card for a cynical lunge on Jonathan Rowe after Ashley Barnes and Jake Cooper had both been booked for a pair of hot-headed altercations.
Norwich had winger Borja Sainz sent off at West Brom on Boxing Day and “angry” boss Wagner insists his team’s discipline proved fatal once again under the Friday night lights.
Wagner, whose side now sit five points away from the play-off places, said: “It was just not good enough – it was a deserved defeat at the end of the day.
“It was intense but you have to be calm, do your stuff and play football – not get dragged into the situation and get the crowd on their side.
“We’ve done more or less everything wrong when you play here, especially at Millwall away, we fought with them more than we played and we played into their cards.
“Our experienced players know exactly what it’s about here, but we lost our head and this is what makes me really angry.
“How we started, we were able to get something out of this game.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing – we started well, were good and created our moments.
“Then we conceded after a counter and totally lost the focus. We didn’t play in the right areas and never really went forward in the right areas.”
City started brightly as Barnes shot straight at Matija Sarkic and Hwang Ui-jo fired wide of the post.
But it was the hosts who took the lead in the 18th minute when Bradshaw slid in from close range after Brooke Norton-Cuffy’s inviting low delivery across the face of goal.
Angus Gunn pulled off a brilliant pair of acrobatic saves to deny both Zian Flemming and Aidomo Emakhu either side of the break.
Tempers flared on the hour mark when Barnes and Cooper were booked and the atmosphere in Bermondsey reached boiling point.
Gunn once again kept City in it with a flying stop to deny Ryan Longman before Saville saw red with two minutes remaining for a challenge on a rampaging Rowe.
Millwall are now unbeaten in four after back-to-back wins and sit eight points clear of the Championship drop zone.
Boss Joe Edwards said: “That was a pleasure to be a part of.
“It hadn’t been what it should be at The Den so it was one of the big objectives to put it right.
“It took a bit longer than we would have liked – we want a certain atmosphere and energy from the fans but it’s our job to create that.
“The fans could see from the off that our desire and energy was there, it was what we wanted to be.
“It was very difficult for Norwich to play and when it got heated in the second half, it kicked everyone on even more.
“When we then go down to 10 and we have to ride it out, the fans have to help us get through that – it was a brilliant night for us.
“Millwall away is not a fixture people look forward to playing in. We want to add an element of control and quality to our game in possession, but we don’t want to do that at the cost of that fight and aggression.”