Norwich manager Daniel Farke saluted his side’s battling qualities as they clung on to beat Stoke 3-2 and stay top of the Championship.
Finland striker Teemu Pukki scored twice and Argentinean midfielder Emi Buendia was also on the scoresheet as it looked like the Canaries were cantering to victory.
But Buendia was sent off for a second yellow card with 21 minutes remaining and his dismissal provided a lifeline for the Potters to fight their way back into an absorbing contest.
Buendia needlessly fouled Nick Powell and Stoke pulled two goals back in nine minutes through Tyrese Campbell and substitute Nathan Collins but Norwich held on.
Farke, whose side are now unbeaten in nine in the league, said: “I’m really happy and absolutely delighted with the lads, I can’t praise them enough because we have a lot of injuries to key players.
“I can’t give the players enough compliments during what is a really tricky period for us.
“It’s a massive win, I’m glad we found a way to win. We’ve stayed unbeaten and done well after the international break.
“After the red card we had to defend really well, it was difficult for us.
“I think he [Buendia] was naive but he was also the best player on the pitch.”
Norwich have now won seven of their last nine league matches and victory was also their first over Stoke for seven years, their last triumph having come in September 2013.
But the win was soured by an injury to keeper Tim Krul, who limped off with a leg injury five minutes before half-time.
“Tim has a muscle injury,” revealed Farke. “I don’t expect that he’s going to be ready to go again in three days, it looks like he’s going to be out for a few weeks.
“It’s not good news because we have lots of games but we’ll have to assess him.
“Marco Stiepermann also had to come off with concussion, so he’s a concern.
“And then Teemu Pukki was moaning about hamstring problems and Emiliano is also going to miss our next game with a red card.”
Stoke boss Michael O’Neill was frustrated his side failed to at least snatch a draw having valiantly fought their way back into the contest having seemingly been dead and buried.
He said: “We’re disappointed not to take something from the game, especially having got back into the game.
“We were second best for 35 minutes of the game, there’s no doubt about that.
“Norwich were excellent and I thought we struggled with their movement and their quality on the ball.
“But the sending-off gave us a lifeline and we were the better team in the second half, but ultimately we just couldn’t get that third goal.
“We didn’t lose the game because of the referee but I thought it wasn’t a brilliant performance by him.
“It was a difficult game to referee but some of the decisions were definitely not in our favour.
“The most important thing is we need to be better in the first half, but you have to give credit to the opposition.
“Norwich are the best team in the league and they have the best striker in the league in Pukki. He showed his quality.”