NORWICH CITY 1, MAN CITY 6
Roberto Mancini surely cannot believe the Barclays Premier League title race is over after a remarkable week for Manchester City.
Yet the City manager maintained “the title is finished” after his side’s 6-1 win at Norwich City which followed their midweek walloping of West Brom.
They have slashed United’s advantage at the top from eight to two points, though the Reds will increase that back to five with victory against Aston Villa.
City, with Carlos Tevez back of board, have regained their early-season swagger for the run in as they banished their recent away-day blues with a clinical display of finishing.
Tevez bagged a hat trick, Sergio Aguero scored twice to take his season’s tally to 28 while Adam Johnson completed the rout.
“I am happy. We did a fantastic performance. Norwich are in good form and it was a difficult game, but I am pleased with my players,” explained Mancini.
Pablo Zabaleta was preferred to Micah Richards at right back while Yaya Toure returned on the bench after injury.
City didn’t have it all their own way as Anthony Pilkington fired narrowly wide early on while Grant Holt’s effort was headed off the line by Joleon Lescott.
Tevez was book for an alleged dive for a penalty when replays showed he was clearly caught by Ryan Bennett.
It was Tevez who broke the deadlock in the 18th minute with a shot from the right of the penalty area which had a wicked swerve which beat keeper John Ruddy at the near post.
A delightful inter-change of passes between Tevez, who released Aguero with a delightful back heel, led to the latter’s opening goal and City’s second as he shot into the top corner of the net.
Norwich began the second half well with Holt shooting narrowly wide before they halved the deficit when keeper Joe Hart’s punch reached Andrew Surman on the edge of the box and he scored with a great strike.
Ruddy saved well from Aguero and Yaya Toure as the game remained finely poised until City’s four-goal blast in the last 17 minutes perhaps gave them a flattering margin of victory.
Yaya Toure’s effort was parried by Ruddy as Tevez nodded in the rebound to effectively seal victory for City.
Little over 90 seconds later and Aguero got his second and City’s fourth curling in a delightful effort from the left of the box into the far corner.
Tevez was handed the goal which completed his hat trick on a plate as he latched on to a woeful back pass from Bennett as he rounded Ruddy to score. He celebrated with a golf shot to show he was back in the swing.
Hart saved well from Holt and Gareth Barry hit the bar as chances were created at both ends.
City added a sixth goal deep into stoppage time when Aguero turned provider as Yaya Toure layed it back to Johnson to sweep home as they also enhanced their goal difference superiority over leaders United who were left anxiously looking over their shoulders.