Norwich City gained stunning revenge for their humiliation by Colchester on the opening day of the season with a five-goal demolition of their East Anglian rivals in the League One rematch.

Manager Paul Lambert enjoyed a triumphant return to the Weston Homes Community Stadium as goals from Chris Martin (2), Gary Doherty, substitute Oli Johnson and Grant Holt gave them their 11th win in 13 league games.

It was the perfect answer to weeks of acrimony from the Essex club over Lambert's controversial switch between the two clubs in August, after he had presided over United's 7-1 win at Carrow Road.

City could even afford a second-half penalty miss from Wes Hoolahan as they stormed to victory in boggy conditions.

To complete a desperate afternoon for Colchester, ex-Canary Ian Henderson was shown the red card for a bad challenge on Darel Russell in stoppage time and there was a constant flurry of yellow cards for both sides during the afternoon.

With leaders Leeds beaten 2-0 at Exeter, their lead was cut to three points and it crowned a great afternoon for the Canaries and their 1,900 fans.

City have now scored 59 goals in the league and their goal difference is superior to the leaders.

Colchester's biggest home league gate for 42 years was inside the ground for what could only be described as a grudge match.

City boss Lambert was able to name an unchanged starting line-up, but there were changes on the bench.

Defender Zak Whitbread, last week's signing from Millwall, replaced Jon Otsemobor among the substitutes after the full-back's move to Southampton on Thursday.

And midfielder Stephen Hughes, recovered from a calf injury after missing two matches, was preferred to Tom Adeyemi.

Persistent rain left the pitch, covered in snow earlier in the week, looking very boggy as the teams warmed up.

Lambert was greeted with a chorus of boos from the home crowd when he took his place in the technical area, but responded with a raised arm and thumbs-up to the City fans behind the goal they were defending in the first half.

Colchester had the first opening after two minutes when Smith's misjudgement let in Wordsworth on the left. His cross was half-cleared to Fox but there was an escape for City when the midfielder fired high over the bar.

City were briefly down to 10 men after just four minutes when Nelson went off for attention to a cut above his right eye and had to have a bandage applied.

The ball was not travelling well on the saturated surface with great splashes accompanying every bounce and control was extremely difficult.

Forster made an important save after eight minutes when Wordsworth latched on to Doherty's headed clearance and the keeper had to dive to his left to push the winger's shot wide.

White was off target from long range as the home side continued to dominate the early stages.

There were appeals for handball when Ifil's shot was blocked by Russell inside the area but the official was unimpressed.

The Canaries took the lead in the 16th minute when Chris Martin struck his 15th goal of the season. Smith's battling efforts managed to work the ball to Russell Martin and his sideways pass set up Chris Martin, who steadied himself and beat Williams with a low left-foot drive from the edge of the area.

Tempers boiled over when Hoolahan reacted angrily after Tierney was guilty of a high challenge and players from both sides became involved in the ensuing fracas. When the scuffle died down, both players were booked, and there were further yellow cards for Chris Martin and Lisbie.

Lisbie was still shoving players in the penalty area as Colchester waited to take the free-kick and needed a lecture from referee Dean before play resumed.

Wordsworth brought Forster into action again in the 35th minute when he met Nelson's header clear with a volley but the keeper did well to cling on as he moved to his left.

Ifil squandered the chance of an equaliser after 39 minutes when Tierney's cross eluded the defence but he stabbed a poor effort wide.

Three minutes before the break, Wordsworth curled a free-kick into the side netting after Doherty had fouled Platt on the left-hand corner of the area.

In first-half stoppage time, Chris Martin scored his second with another immaculate finish. Russell won the vital tackle in midfield and Holt swept the ball forward where Batth was unable to cut it out and Martin showed great composure, taking his time to poke a low shot just inside Williams' right-hand post.

The pitch was becoming increasingly difficult by the interval but City would have been well satisfied with their 45 minutes' work.

HALF-TIME: Colchester United 0, Norwich City 2

Just four minutes into the second half, City stretched their lead with Doherty's sixth of the season.

A foul on Hoolahan gave the Canaries a free-kick 10 yards outside the Colchester area. Hoolahan floated the ball in and Doherty got ahead of Okuonghae but had his first effort blocked, but reacted well to rip a left-foot shot into the roof of the net.

Colchester made a double change by introducing Baldwin and Odejayi, but City missed a golden chance to make it 4-0 in the 58th minute when Hoolahan failed to score from the penalty spot.

Holt was held by Okuonghae as he tried to reach Lappin's cross at the far post and referee Dean pointed straight to the spot. After a long delay, Hoolahan struck his spot-kick against the bar and although he tucked away the rebound, no opponent had touched the ball in the meantime and the goal was, inevitably, disallowed.

Lisbie headed just over as the U's tried to cash in on City's penalty miss.

There had been several ejections from the ground of City fans in home areas, and then a Colchester fan who got on the touchline and tried to head for the visiting fans was grounded by police by the corner flag.

Johnson was introduced for Hoolahan for the final quarter of the match and immediately showed great skill in the Colchester area to evade one challenge but his attempt to shoot from a narrow angle was blocked.

Wordsworth was booked for a foul that left Drury hobbling badly.

Platt headed over from White's cross but with 20 minutes left, ex-Canary Henderson replaced White as Colchester made their final change.

Chris Martin's left-foot shot drifted just wide as the Canaries pressed again after more good work by Johnson.

Odejayi headed wide from Tierney's cross as Colchester tried to find a way back into the game.

Henderson wasted a free-kick 11 minutes from time, curling his right-foot shot over the top.

Johnson wrapped the game up nine minutes from the end when he finished coolly with a left-foot shot just inside the post after a mix-up between Baldwin and Okuonghae.

Whitbread was introduced for his debut in place of Chris Martin with six minutes left as City made a second change.

Holt's cool finish from Forster's long ball made it 5-0 in the final minute.

There was more drama when Henderson was shown the red card for a bad challenge on former team-mate Russell.

RESULT: Colchester United 0, Norwich City 5

Colchester United: Williams; White, Okuonghae, Batth, Tierney; Ifil, Izzet, Fox, Wordsworth; Lisbie, Platt. Subs: Cousins, Hackney, Baldwin (for Batth, 56), Henderson (for White, 70), Odejayi (for Fox, 56), Gillespie, Heath.

Norwich City: Forster; Russell Martin, Doherty, Nelson, Drury; Russell; Smith, Lappin; Hoolahan; Holt, Chris Martin. Subs: Rudd, Whitbread (for Chris Martin, 84), Gill, Hughes (for Lappin, 89), McNamee, Johnson (for Hoolahan, 66), McDonald.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Attendance: 10,064

Goals: City: Chris Martin (16, 45), Doherty (4), Johnson (81), Holt (90)

Bookings: Colchester: Tierney (18), Lisbie (18), Batth (54), Okuonghae (58), Wordsworth (67), Izzet (88). City: Hoolahan (18), Chris Martin (18), Holt (41), Doherty (45)

Red card: Colchester: Henderson (90)