Man Utd 4, Norwich 0
Ryan Giggs was supposed to be top of the bill, but it was Shinji Kagawa who ended up stealing the show.
Kagawa’s hat-trick was the first by an Asian player in the Premier League as it started with a fortunate flick, continued with a sublime stroke and was completed by a cheeky chip.
As for Giggs, waiting to record his 1,000th appearance for the Reds……. the Welsh wizard never even made the bench!
But don’t be fooled by the scoreline.
The first half was dreadful and United only clicked into top gear in the last 20 minutes.
Norwich worked hard, but their lack of ambition going forward saw them fail to produce one effort on target.
While Kagawa’s hat-trick lit up a very mediocre affair, the best goal of the game came in the last minute courtesy of a blistering shot from Wayne Rooney.
One of the qualities which tempted United to buy Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund in the summer was his ability to score goals from a forward position just behind the strikers.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson at one time tried Paul Scholes in a similar role behind Ruud van Nistelroy for European games, but the tactic proved unsuccessful and was eventually abandoned.
But there are signs that it could work with Kagawa – playing off Rooney and Robin van Persie.
Kagawa began the scoring a minute into injury time of a virtually excitement free first half.
Antonio Valencia’s cross from the right side of the Norwich box was flicked on by van Persie and Kagawe scored with a mishit shot from the right corner of the six-yard box.
United upped the tempo at the start of the second half, although it wasn’t until Danny Welbeck replaced the under par van Persie after 66 minutes, and Tom Cleverley came on for Anderson eight minutes later that the real action started.
In the 76th minute, Michael Carrick found Rooney racing into the right side of the Norwich box with a glorious 50-yard pass.
The England striker beat Sebastien Bassong when he cut inside to tee up Kagawa to score with a superbly disguised low shot from eight yards.
Kagawa started and finished the move which brought his third goal after 87 minutes.
The Japanese international found Welbeck hovering outside the Norwich penalty area.
He turned the ball on to Rooney, whose pinpoint pass set Kagawa up to score with the cheekiest of chips over oncoming goalkeeper Mark Bunn and into the net from eight yards.
Rooney completed the scoring in the last minute when he collected a Welbeck pass, went past Bradley Johnson as if he did not exist and then deposited a viciously swerving shot into the top right corner of the net from 25 yards.
Ferguson said: “The important thing is that whatever team plays, it shows the same determination. We worked very hard and showed great spirit.
“Kagawa showed great composure for his second and third goals. He is a good player now, but next season he will be far, far better.”
The win put United 15 points clear of second placed City, who play at Aston Villa on Monday, with a better goal difference of 11.
But Ferguson said: “The best way for us to handle the situation is just to keep winning our next game.”
On the subject of Giggs, Ferguson added: “Ryan will be involved against Real Madrid on Tuesday. He deserves the moment for his 1,000th game – and we will not forget it”