(Reuters) - When Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki scored his first Premier League goal against Liverpool at Anfield last month, he achieved the rare feat of scoring with his first shot on target in each of the last eight seasons.
Stretching back to 2012, the 29-year-old Finland international found the back of the net with his first shot on target with Schalke, Celtic, Brondby and Norwich. Judging by his remarkable scoring rate since, he is in no hurry to stop.
Five games into the campaign with the newly-promoted side, Pukki has now scored six goals and provided two assists. No other player has been involved in more league goals this season.
No wonder then that he was named the Premier League player of the month for August, highlighted by his performance against Newcastle United where he grabbed a hat-trick — a feat he never accomplished in the second tier.
On Saturday, he helped an injury-ravaged Norwich, who had 11 players sidelined, script a famous 3-2 win over champions Manchester City at Carrow Road, scoring one and setting up another on the counter-attack.
So focused are teams on marking Pukki that he was able to draw Man City’s Kyle Walker out of position and attract the attention of goalkeeper Ederson before teeing up unmarked winger Todd Cantwell, who tapped the ball into an empty net.
“Teemu always thinks about the team first which is why he deserves all of the praise,” Norwich manager Daniel Farke told BBC Sport. “Teemu was brilliant, not only because of his goals but for his work rate too.”
With defenders constantly doubling up on Pukki, his unselfish play has allowed team mates to shine too, none more so than Cantwell who has benefited from the Finn’s assists with goals against Chelsea and Man City.
“Me and Teemu have a brilliant connection so far,” Cantwell said. “We’re building on what we had last year and we’re setting each other up. I always knew he’d square it, he’s more than just a goal scorer.”
Pukki is a natural goal scorer, evidenced by his 29 goals in the Championship last season to finish as the division’s top scorer. It was his spearheading of the attack that allowed champions Norwich to finish with 93 league goals last season.
The calendar has not been kind to Norwich. They have had to play three of the ‘Big Six’ in their first five matches, losing to Liverpool and Chelsea before Saturday’s shock result that ended Man City’s 18-game unbeaten league run.
But Norwich’s gung-ho approach on the pitch under Farke, what the German affectionately calls “our DNA”, has helped Pukki thrive up front even against the established European elite, against whom he now has three goals and two assists.
“It’s been an amazing start (to the season),” Pukki, who is second in the league’s goal scoring charts, said.
“I believed that I could score at this level. But to score against all these top teams... I didn’t believe I could do that.”
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar