Norwich 1 Manchester City 6
English Premier League
Saturday 14 April 2012, 12.45 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, de Jong, Barry, Nasri (Y Toure 63), Silva (A Johnson 77), Aguero, Tevez (Richards 81)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Milner, Dzeko
Goals: Tevez (18, 73, 80), Aguero (27, 75), A Johnson (90+3)
Booked: Tevez, Nasri
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez
It was all go from the off at Carrow Road, as Lescott needed Kompany’s help to clear the ball, after the Englishman missed his attempt, before the visitors almost opened the scoring as Barry’s header was cleared off the line. From the breakaway, Pilkington skipped past both Zabaleta and Nasri, but his shot curled wide of Hart’s post.
Ruddy was on form to deny an effort from Silva, before Tevez was shown a yellow card for a dive in the area – although he was, in fact, unlucky not to have seen the referee point to the spot instead as he was clearly fouled. Aguero could have had a penalty shortly after, but the referee turned the second appeal down, too.
But, with 18 minutes played, City took the lead. Tevez picked the ball up outside the area and carried it towards the box. From 20 yards, he smashed a shot at goal and it swerved past Ruddy and into the back of the net. It was a good strike and it moved in the air, but the goalkeeper will be disappointed not to have saved it.
It was looking like an away performance from the start of the season for City and, just before the half hour mark, Sergio Aguero scored his first goal in a blue shirt outside of Manchester or London. A neat Tevez back-heel set up his compatriate to half-volley at goal; he gave Ruddy no chance, thumping it past the goalkeeper and doubling the visitors’ lead.
Norwich looked to respond to stay in the game. Holt forced Hart into a comfortable save from inside the box, before Kompany was on fine form to deny the Norwich forward a second chance soon after.
Early in the second half, the recovery looked like it could be on: Hart didn’t get the ball away with a weak punch and it fell to Surman inside the box. Keeping his cool, the midfielder control it, before dropping the ball into the net, with the City keeper stranded. It had been coming since the break and the blues had taken their foot off the gas slightly.
Ruddy produced two great saves to keep his side in the game, first from Aguero as he’d wriggled clear, and second from Zabaleta, who had been played in by de Jong. And, as the visitors tried to force their way further in front, an Aguero shot appeared to be blocked by Tevez. The away side were wrestling control back.
But, for all of City’s work, it took Gareth Barry to block from Grant Holt to prevent the hosts from pulling level. And it was Ruddy, once again, that denied Zabaleta, who’d had a pop on goal from 20 yards.
With 73 minutes on the clock, the blues extended their lead. Tevez reacted the quickest to Ruddy’s save and got to the rebound ahead of the defender, nodding it into the empty net and restoring the two goal advantage. That advantage, though, quickly became three – Aguero curled an excellent effort past Ruddy from just inside the box and the blues had scored twice in two minutes.
Five minutes later, City added another. Tevez latched onto a short backpass and picked up the ball ahead of Ruddy. It was a simple task for him to take it around the goalkeeper and slide it into the empty net. It was a hat-trick and he celebrated with a spot of golf – all in good humour.
Substitute Adam Johnson clipped the bar with an effort with the outside of his foot, before Aguero smashed a shot into the post; City weren’t hanging back and were looking to add to their goal difference.
And, in stoppage time, the blues had the ball in the net once more: A brilliant ball from Aguero found Clichy, who slipped it back inside to Johnson in the box, leaving him the simple task of slotting it home. It was the third time the blues had won six-one away from home in the Premier League and all three of those games have come under Roberto Mancini’s management.