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Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Dismal Norwich City crashed to a humiliating 7-0 Premier League defeat at Manchester City that ratcheted up the pressure on Canaries’ boss Chris Hughton.
The visitors were totally dismantled by Manuel Pellegrini’s men on an embarrassing afternoon at the Etihad that kept Norwich firmly moored in the bottom three.
Bradley Johnson’s bizarre own goal opened the floodgates as Norwich shipped three goals in nine minutes in the opening quarter. John Ruddy could only parry David Silva’s angled strike and then Matija Nastasic’s header deceived Leroy Fer and the visting keeper. Alvaro Negredo slammed home a fourth before the interval – albeit Sergio Aguero appeared to be offside in the build up. Yaya Toure’s sharp free-kick on the hour mark piled on fresh misery and Aguero slotted a sixth after a woeful attempted clearance from Sebastien Bassong that typified Norwich’s abject surrender before Edin Dzeko rubbed salt in the wound in the closing minutes.
Hughton made two changes to his starting line up from the goalless Premier League draw against Cardiff. Steven Whittaker and Johnson replaced injured duo Alex Tettey (ankle) and Robert Snodgrass (head). Snodgrass was omitted on medical advice after suffering concussion in the midweek Capital One Cup exit at Manchester United. Nathan Redmond was also absent after suffering a muscle problem to his left hip area in the second half at Old Trafford. Tettey has been ruled out until the New Year after undergoing ankle ligament surgery. Club record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel was another absentee to rest a troublesome foot injury. City’s raft of injury concerns saw Josh Murphy included on the bench in the Premier League for the second time with twin Jacob also in the travelling party that headed north on Friday lunchtime.
Manchester City and England keeper Joe Hart had to settle for a place on the hosts’ substitutes’ bench as was widely trailed, with Costel Pantilimon preferred following his display in the midweek Capital One Cup win over Newcastle.
Leroy Fer partnered Johnson in a defensively-minded holding duo in central midfield but Hughton sprung something of a surprise with Whittaker deployed in front of Russell Martin with Martin Olsson retained at left back.
Silva tricked his way past Martin in the opening seconds but his driven cross brushed Negredo at Ruddy’s near post. Anthony Pilkington drove at the Blues’ backline but Martin Demichelis thwarted the wide player in a signal of Norwich’s growing confidence. Silva and Samir Nasri combined to slice through Norwich’s central defence before Nasri’s clip thudded against the outside of Ruddy’s right-hand post from close range. Norwich were breached seconds later in the most bizarre of circumstances when Michael Turner’s initial block to foil Silva ricocheted against Augero and then spiralled against Johnson to deceive Ruddy. Aguero then punished Norwich again when he raced beyond Bassong to roll in Silva who lashed an angled strike that Ruddy could only parry on its way into the net.
The Canaries’ afternoon lurched from bad to worse in the 25th minute when Nastasic’s header from Nasri’s corner brushed Martin and looped between Fer and Ruddy.
Turner checked the home onslaught with a brave block to deny Silva before Aguero lashed over from the corner with the hosts toying with Norwich. Ruddy’s spill shortly after underlined the panic in the visiting ranks but Martin bailed out his keeper but Pellegrini’s men struck a fourth nine minutes before the interval. Aguero looked suspiciously offside in collecting Toure’s lifted pass to produce a cut back Negredo smashed home from close range. Pantilimon was belatedly pressed into action to shovel Pilkington’s long range strike behind but normal service was swiftly resumed when Toure easily rolled Bassong but rifled straight at Ruddy.
Josh Murphy made his entrance at the interval for his Premier League debut along with Johan Elmander as Hooper and Whittaker made way. Pellegrini hooked Negredo for Dzeko who had scored against the Magpies in midweek. Pantilimon punched clear Pilkington’s free kick in a rare attacking foray from the visitors. Elmander then spurned the Canaries’ best chance to date when he side footed over six yards out after Johnson had picked out the unmarked Swede. Ruddy then denied Nasri with a low stop to his left before Aguero slammed the rebound into the side netting. Johnson brought down Dzeko 25 yards outside the Norwich penalty area in a dangerously central position – and Toure took full advantage with a wonderfully precise free kick up and over the wall into Ruddy’s top right-hand corner. Norwich’s painful afternoon was encapsulated by the Blues’ sixth - Silva escaped down the left to cut back a cross Bassong could only waft in Aguero’s direction who smacked past Ruddy from 10 yards. Ruddy denied Aguero from 20 yards after Norwich were undone by one long diagonal ball from the back. Turner was then cautioned for taking matters into his own hands to haul down Aguero on the edge of the Norwich penalty area. The Norwich stopper produced his best work of the afternoon to deny Demichelis from six yards after Toure’s initial free kick dropped to the Argentine defender. Ruddy’s late defiance was ended by Dzeko with a clinical turn and hit from just inside the penalty area that flew past the grounded keeper to complete the rout.
Manchester City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho, Toure, Silva (Navas 73), Nasri (Milner 70), Aguero, Negredo (Dzeko 45). Subs (not used): Hart, Lescott, Richards, Kolarov.
Booking: Zabaleta (foul on Pilkington 46)
Goals: Johnson og (16), Silva (20), Nastasic (25), Negredo (40), Toure (60), Augero (72), Dzeko (86)
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Bassong, Turner, Whittaker (Josh Murphy 45), Pilkington, Johnson, Fer, Olsson, Howson, Hooper (Elmander 45). Subs (not used): Bunn, Hoolahan, Garrido, Becchio, Bennett.
Booking: Turner (foul on Aguero, 82)
Added on time: 2 minutes / 3 minutes
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffs)