Daniel Farke hailed Norwich’s “steel” as they moved to the verge of an immediate Premier League return.
Kieran Dowell saw off Derby 1-0 with a stunning first half free-kick as the Canaries continued their march to the title.
But this was a workmanlike victory unlike the Champagne football from the midweek 7-0 win over Huddersfield.
Norwich could have clinched promotion had other results gone their way but Swansea and Brentford both won.
Yet with 90 points in the bag already, Farke should soon be tasting fizz after beating Wayne Rooney’s Derby.
His side now need just two more points and can clinch mathematical promotion with a win at home to Bournemouth on Saturday night.
The City boss was thrilled to have banked the win ahead of tricky games against the Cherries and Watford.
The German coach, whose side are unbeaten in 13 games, said: “It was a hard-fought win not a magic night like Tuesday.
“But this has the same value for me as Tuesday.
“In football you can’t always punish opponents with seven or eight goals.
“It was not Champagne football but we showed fighting steel.
“It was important to show this side and to get the clean sheet.
“I am happy we found another solution to win this game.
“It was a world-class free-kick.
“It was difficult because it was so close to the goal and the wall was also tall.
“You needed a special technique which Kieran has.
“It was an un-saveable free-kick.
“My gut feeling is ninety points is always enough.
“I am pretty sure at the end of the season we will definitely celebrate promotion with this win.
“But you can only really celebrate and relax when it is over the line.
“We need two more points as soon as possible and want to finish the season in style.”
Norwich soon started to showed their class and dominate proceedings at Pride Park as Kenny McClean and Todd Cantwell had early efforts.
Dowell also hit the side-netting with a left-foot free-kick.
It served as a marker as Norwich were awarded a free-kick in a similar position.
This time the former Everton youngster curled a superb left-foot effort into the top corner in the 21st minute.
Derby had few openings and couldn’t get past defender Grant Hanley and keeper Tim Krul, who did well to save from Teden Mengi and Patrick Roberts in the second half.
Graeme Shinnie could have snatched a point in stoppage time but blazed over after Colin Kazim-Richards dispossessed Krul outside the box.
Derby could have levelled with more composure in the final third in the second half.
But it is still just one win in 10 games for Rooney’s Rams who remain in grave danger of the drop.
Rooney, whose side play Blackburn and Preston away next, insisted: “We know what we need to do.
“It’s still in our hands.
“If we perform like we did today we will be fine.
“The next games are going to be big games for us.”