Norwich 3 Man City 4: Dzeko and Aguero ensure 10-man champions edge thriller
17:38 GMT, 29 December 2012
Manchester City overcame the controversial sending-off of midfielder Samir Nasri to beat Norwich 4-3 in a thrilling Barclays Premier League clash at Carrow Road.
The champions, beaten at Sunderland on Boxing Day, were off to a flying start when they went 2-0 up inside four minutes after Edin Dzeko's quick brace.
Norwich reduced the deficit through Anthony Pilkington's deflected free-kick, before Nasri was shown a red card by referee Mike Jones on 44 minutes for putting his head into the face of Sebastien Bassong.
Star of the show: Edin Dzeko scored within two minutes for Manchester City
Norwich: Bunn, R Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Johnson, Snodgrass, Pilkington, Hoolahan (Jackson 74), Tettey (Howson 57), Morison (Kane 45)
Subs not used: Rudd, Barnett, R Bennett, E Bennett
Goal: Pilkington 15, Martin 63, 75
Booked: Bassong, Pilkington
Man City: Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Clichy, Nastasic, Nasri, Barry, Silva (Milner 56), Y Toure, Dzeko (Lescott 81), Aguero (Garcia 90)
Subs not used: Pantilimon, K Toure, Sinclair, Tevez
Goals: Dzeko 2, 4 Aguero 50, Bunn (og) 67
Sent off: Nasri 44
Referee: Mike Jones
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Sergio Aguero's neat flick made it
3-1 at the start of the second half, before Russell Martin's header
reduced the deficit again.
Dzeko put City back in command at 4-2
after his shot cannoned off the post and in off goalkeeper Mark Bunn,
only for Martin's scrambled effort to set up a grandstand finish.
However, Norwich – who had beaten
both Arsenal and Manchester United at Carrow Road during a 10-match
unbeaten run – could not conjure an equaliser as they suffered a third
successive league defeat.
City were ahead inside two minutes. A
long ball down the left was worked back inside by Aguero and David
Silva for an unmarked Dzeko to sweep home from six yards.
The champions swiftly doubled their lead.
Play was allowed to continue after a crunching tackle from Vincent Kompany on Bradley Johnson.
Aguero was away again, darting into the right side of the Norwich
penalty area before drawing the goalkeeper and then cutting the ball
back to present Dzeko with another tap-in.
The Canaries had been thrashed 6-1
here by City last season, and another such defeat looked on the cards as
the Blues continued to press.
Already Dzeko scored his second early in the match
Game on: Anthony Pilkington scored a free-kick as the sides went in at 2-1
There was some brief respite on 13 minutes when Kompany tripped Robert Snodgrass just outside the Manchester City penalty area.
The Scotland international shaped to
take the free-kick himself, but instead ran over the ball, as Pilkington
drove in a low shot which deflected off Gael Clichy and past Joe Hart.
Bunn then needed to be alert to tip
over a spooned clearance from former City full-back Javier Garrido which
was dropping into the Norwich net following another lighting break from
City remained a threat, as Yaya Toure flashed a 20-yard drive just wide following more patient build-up from the champions.
Class: Sergio Aguero lifts the ball over Mark Bunn to make it 3-1
Back in the goals: Aguero wheeled away after his expertly taken goal
Get in: Russell Martin heads home Norwich's second
Things got ugly again just before the break when Bassong upended Nasri on the far touchline.
The duo squared up face-to-face, with
Nasri pushing his head into the Norwich defender – which on
consultation with the assistant referee resulted in a red card for the
France midfielder, and a caution for Bassong.
The decision perplexed City boss
Mancini, and left him with some changes to mull over at half-time the
rain started to lash down.
Spicy: Samir Nasri was red-carded for putting his head against Sebastien Bassong's
Oh dear: Nasri was dismissed just before half-time
Norwich made a substitution just
before the interval, with striker Steve Morison hobbling off because of
what appeared to be a thigh problem and on-loan Harry Kane replacing him
for a first appearance since breaking his metatarsal in September.
City were soon back on the offensive following the restart and restored their two-goal cushion on 50 minutes.
Toure delivered a perfectly-weighted
angled ball which Bassong could not cut out and dropped into the path of
Aguero. The Argentina forward produced an exquisite chip to beat the
advancing keeper and put City back in control.
To their credit, the home side
continued to look to get back into the match, as a low shot from
substitute Jonny Howson's was touched wide by Hart.
From the resulting short-corner, it
was 3-2 when Bassong's header back across the six-yard box from
Snodgrass' clever centre was guided into the top right corner by Martin
on 63 minutes.
However, City quickly restored their advantage as the broke away down the right.
Dzeko sprung the offside trap to
burst into the Norwich penalty area to beat Bunn at the near post, the
ball bouncing off the woodwork, then the keeper's back and into the net.
Unlucky: Dzeko was deprived of a hat-trick when his shot ricocheted in off Bunn
Squeaky bum time: Martin scored Norwich's third to make things interesting again
Whack: Vincent Kompany slides in on Bradley Johnson
Flying high: Edin Dzeko competes for the ball in the second half
A quite amazing match sparked into
life once more with 15 minutes left when another Norwich corner caused
panic in the City six-yard box as Hart could only half punch clear
before Martin swept the ball in again from point-blank range.
Mancini looked to shore things up when he replaced Dzeko with defender Joleon Lescott.
Bunn redeemed himself with a brilliant one-handed save from Aguero at point-blank range.
Despite five minutes of stoppage time, there was to be no more drama as
City closed out what could prove to be a crucial victory.
Taskmaster: Roberto Mancini issues some instructions from the touchline
Goalscorers: Aguero and Martin (right) were both among the goals