Norwich boss Alex Neil plays down favourites tag

Norwich boss Alex Neil

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Norwich boss Alex Neil has scotched suggestions that his side are clear favourites to reach the Championship play-off final after holding East Anglian rivals Ipswich 1-1 in their semi-final first leg at Portman Road on Saturday.

The Canaries did the double over their neighbours from Suffolk and finished eight points better off on their way to a third-placed finish in the regular season.

And they looked on course to secure another victory to take back to Carrow Road for next Saturday’s second leg when Jonny Howson put them in front on 41 minutes.

But the lead only lasted four minutes as substitute Paul Anderson, who was on for the injured Luke Varney, fired in the equaliser right on half time after Freddie Sears’ initial shot was saved by John Ruddy.

With home advantage to come Norwich are well fancied to secure a Wembley final against either Middlesbrough or Brentford on May 25, but Neil is adamant that the tie is still very much in the balance.

The former Hamilton boss, who has guided Norwich to 15 wins from 22 games since taking charge in January, told Sky Sports: “I would not say that we are favourites, I think both teams go in sort of level pegging, we have seen how tight the game was today and so I am expecting a similar encounter at our place. But I am hoping our quality will come out in the end and hopefully we can get there.”

Norwich, who are 2.50 to win the play-offs and make an immediate return to the Premier League, are 1.80 to defeat Ipswich in the match result market. Mick McCarthy’s side are 4.50 and the draw is 3.50.

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