MANCHESTER CITY 7, NORWICH CITY 0
Manchester City racked up their record Barclays Premier League victory – 7-0 – at home as records fell against a depleted Norwich City side. It was City’s heaviest win since a memorable 10-1 win against Huddersfield Town in 1987. It was also the most goals scored in a match since the 6-1 win at Old Trafford two years ago.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini was delighted with the way his team kept attacking throughout the game and showed off the attacking philosophy he was trying to introduce.
He said “Norwich is a very good team. I saw them play against Chelsea and Arsenal and they only lost in the 84th or 85th minute.
“I didn’t expect us to score seven goals. We had a great performance. The team played really well during the full ninety minutes.
“We won 4-0 in the first half. Normally the second half is finished but the team continued to play exactly the same.
“It’s important to see the team play the way I want it to play. We have very good technical players and when they move the ball quickly we produce space. We must continue in the same way.”
Inevitably, talk turned to the omission of Joe Hart who was dropped after a series of high profile errors this year. Pellegrini was adamant he would continue to pick the best player for each game.
Pellegrini said: “My duty is to see every week who is the best player for every game. We have a lot of games.
“Today I think the best goalkeeper was Pantilimon.
“For this game Joe needed a rest. It would be useful for him as he has played every game for the last two and a half years. Every player can have a bad moment. We will work hard with him to return to his normal performance as soon as possible.
“I don’t know when Hart will return. He is a top player and number one here in England. I know and he knows he must work hard with our goalkeeping coach, Xabier Mancisidor.”
After two hours of attritional Capital One Cup football in midweek, the only player to keep his place in the City team from the side who faced Newcastle United in midweek was Costel Pantilimon who retained his place at the expense of Joe Hart. Norwich City had seven changes although at least two of them were enforced with injuries keeping Robert Snodgrass and Nathan Redmond on the sidelines while Alex Tettey was ruled out for at least two months. The home side looked far more energised as they ruthlessly took the Canaries apart.
An own goal by Bradley Johnson was quickly followed by David Silva, Matija Nastasic, Alvaro Negredo, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko as Norwich completed an awful week in Manchester with an 11 goal deficit.
On an afternoon where England’s goalkeeping crisis was in sharp focus it was ironic that all eyes were on the Norwich goalmouth most of the time where one of Joe Hart’s competition for the England number one jersey, John Ruddy, had a shocking afternoon and was given scant protection by his back four. Norwich were 4-0 down at half time and could have been deeper in the mire without intervention from the woodwork when Samir Nasri’s strike hit the post in the 15th minute and a poor finish by Toure when clean through at the end of the first half. The rout didn’t stop at half time, though, and City ensured that Norwich were punished for slack defending throughout.
Hart’s replacement in the City goal, Romanian Costel Pantilimon, had a quiet afternoon with very little to trouble him as Norwich self destructed in the first half but he was quick to get down to his right and touch Anthony Pilkington’s 38th minute shot past his near post for a corner. He was called into action to parry out a free kick early in the second half but was otherwise a spectator as City tore Norwich to pieces during the second half.
Samir Nasri gave Norwich ample warning of the afternoon they had in front of them when he hit the post in the 15th minute after rounding Johnson with Ruddy beaten. Home fans didn’t have long to wait for the floodgates to open, though, as they made the most of attacks down the left flank.
Just a minute later, City opened the scoring with a 16th minute Johnson own goal after Michael Turner’s attempted clearance of Sergio Aguero’s shot hit his fellow defender and looped into the back of the net with John Ruddy grounded.
Aguero punished slack marking four minutes later as he beat the offside trap to collect Nasri’s through pass. Two Norwich defenders tried to close him down but the strong Argentine laid off the ball to the swiftly advancing David Silva whose powerful shot went in despite Ruddy getting a hand to it.
City continued to push hard and were 3-0 up inside 25 minutes after Matija Nastasic firmly headed effort from Nasri’s corner took a thick edge off Russell Martin and wrongfooted Ruddy.
There was a hint of offside about Yaya Toure’s pass to Sergi Aguero on the right side of the area but the flag stayed down and the Argentine chose to lay the ball off to Alvaro Negredo who gratefully converted the chance to put City 4-0 up in the 36th minute.
Toure could have made it 5-0 in the 41st minute but his turn and shot by Ruddy after the Ivorian struck his shot too close to the Norwich ‘keeper.
Shell shocked Norwich regrouped after the break and a mistake by Martin Demichelis, who clearance was blocked, allowed substitute Johan Elmander a clear strike on goal but he lifted his effort well over even the 6’8″ frame of Pantilimon and the goal in the 53rd minute. It was probably Norwich’s only clear cut chance of a one-sided second half.
City still threatened, though, and had a succession of shots blocked before Nasri forced Ruddy into a fingertip save from his 55th minute strike and Aguero could only follow up with a sweep of the loose ball into the side netting from an acute angle.
Yaya Toure’s free kick on the hour from 20 yards made it 5-0 – it was another fantastic set-piece goal to add to his growing collection this season and Ruddy invited the shot after leaving too much space on his right. The Ivorian’s name rang out around the stadium as City fans celebrated but the entertainment wasn’t over yet.
City hit a sixth in the 71st minute when Silva darted between static defenders and produced a left wing cross which was sliced by Sebastien Bassong as he attempted to clear and fell nicely for Aguero to score from 10 yards out.
Toure could have had his second of the day with eight minutes to go after Aguero was fouled by Turner just inside the D but his low free kick hit the wall with the rebound falling to Demichelis. The big defender’s shot was gratefully saved by Ruddy but the agony wasn’t over.
Dzeko finally completed the rout in the 86th minute – making it 7-0 after substitute Jesus Navas fed him from the right of the area. The Bosnian turned and beat a demoralised Ruddy with ease.
Crowd favourite Pablo Zabaleta had a chance to make it 8-0 but skied his shot in the final minute.