Norwich City 3-2 Manchester City: Canaries record sensational victory against English champions
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City proved David could beat Goliath as they overcame Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 3-2 at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Goals from Kenny McLean, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki secured the three points for the Canaries amongst a backdrop of adversities.
Daniel Farke had an injury plagued squad to select from, meaning the Canaries Head Coach was forced into four changes. Key operators in his backline such as Timm Klose and Christoph Zimmermann have been ruled out with long term injuries, leaving the Canaries to turn to a make-shift centre back partnership in Ibrahim Amadou and Ben Godfrey, who passed a late fitness test to start.
His message to the punters was simple, given the depleted nature of their squad, they would need to vocalise their support.
Manchester City were missing central defender Aymeric Laporte through a knee injury, with England international John Stones returning to the starting eleven as a replacement.
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Kevin de Bruyne started the game on the bench, with boss Pep Guardiola casting one eye on the Champions League encounter with Shaktar Donetsk on Wednesday.
The champions first offensive phase involved the electric Raheem Sterling winning a corner, which was initially cleared prior to Rodri heading tamely into Timm Krul's gloves.
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With their opponents predictably enjoying the majority of possession, City deployed a low block in a 4-1-4-1 formation whilst seeking to limit the space available in central areas. Marco Stiepermann nearly led a break away for the Canaries, but his pass was unable to find Finnish striker Teemi Pukki.
Despite Manchester City dominating the opening exchanges, City sought to impose themselves onto the game, with a prolonged spell of possession culminating in Alex Tettey winning a corner. It was from that subsequent set piece that Norwich took the lead, with Kenny McLean turning home Emi Buendia's corner with a finely placed near post header.
Near post headers have proved one of the very few weaknesses Manchester City have displayed this season but the quality of the passage prior to the goal was perfectly constructed and reminiscent of something Guardiola's side are capable of when in full flow.
Carrow Road was rapturous. In the sunshine, the Barclay was singing in almost disbelief.
Moments later, the Premier League's top scorer Sergio Aguero headed a guilt-edged opportunity over the bar from inside the six yard box.
Criticism of their defensive shape in weeks gone by have been justified, Norwich have gifted space to their opponents and not restricted the supply line in previous weeks. This time out, it was about condensing space in their own eighteen yard area whilst seeking to counter attack with purpose.
That's exactly the narrative adopted for the Canaries' second goal.
Slick, effective and devastating, that was how Norwich countered for their second goal. Teemu Pukki was played through by Buendia, leaving the Finn racing through on goal but he adopted a more unselfish side to slot Todd Cantwell in with the easiest of tap-ins.
Sterling's exploits on the international stage have been rightly lauded after a sublime performance against Kosovo in midweek. The only thing that prevented him adding to his domestic tally in the Premier League was the right hand post. After recycling possession from that chance, David Silva sliced the ball wide from outside the box.
Norwich had a penalty appeal waved away by VAR after John Stones was judged not to have illegally handled it after using his arm to clear a Norwich cross.
They were unable to keep Aguero quiet for long, with the Argentine adding to his tally by locating space between Amadou and Godfrey to nod the ball past Krul into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Norwich found themselves leading at half time but the timing of Aguero's reply will have annoyed Farke given the impressive structure of their defensive shape. The frustration of Manchester City's key operators.
Debutant Sam Byram replaced the injured Max Aarons at right back and was tasked with preventing Sterling the license to locate pockets of space. Byram's impressve performance restricted Sterling to scraps, so much so that he opted to exchange wide areas with Bernardo Silva.
The early period of the second half followed a familiar pattern, with the visitors enjoying possession without dislodging the defensive shape of Norwich.
Teemu Pukki was played in behind the Manchester City backline but dragged it wide with his low left footed effort.
From that goal kick, Nicolas Otamendi was uncharacteristically caught in possession leading to Buendia robbing him of the ball and squaring for Pukki to convert from inside the area.
A barrage of black shirts then poured forward, with the introduction of heavy artillery in the shape of de Bruyne and Jesus, Norwich had to withstand passage after passage. Aguero was challenged by Godfrey inside the area to prevent him getting his second of the afternoon.
De Bruyne's deliveries undoubtedly led to an increased threat for set pieces. Both corners and free kicks get an edge to Manchester City's attacks that they previously lacked.
Another City counter attack was thwarted on 67mins with Stiepermann unable to find Pukki and left Stones to clear.
Amadou may have been covering the central defensive area amid a plethora of injuries, but it was his block on 69 minutes that prevented Sterling playing in Bernardo Silva to avert the danger. He was named man of the match after an imperious display.
Norwich's attacks began to manifest with a high frequency, from this point. A clipped passed from Buendia finds Pukki who returned the favour but the Argentine was unable to locate a yellow and green shirt.
By this point, with under 15 minutes on the clock, every block, tackle or pass was being greeted with a standing ovation in the terraces. Carrow Road was daring to dream, their heroes were on the brink of writing their greatest story yet.
On the 83rd minute, Buendia made way for Josip Drmic. The Argentine was at the heart of the Canaries offensive play, his assist for Pukki's goal meaning he is the first player since Eden Hazard to make four assists in the opening five games of a Premier League season.
Todd Cantwell was booked for a challenge on Kyle Walker with Krul clearing the ball before making a fine stop from Otamendi's header.
The pressure on Norwich would cause them to concede, however. With Rodri unleashing a rasping effort beyond Krul's outstretched right hand. That strike increased the anxiety around the stadium but that was not shared by the operators on the pitch.
Aguero's weaving run in stoppage time was held by Krul, with Norwich seeking to run down the clock for as long as they could.
Despite late chances, Kevin Friend blew the final whistle. They'd done it. They'd climbed Mount Everest and seen off the current champions. Considering the context of injuries and a makeshift defensive side, they'd achieved a victory against all the odds.
- Norwich: (4-2-3-1): Krul; Byram, Amadou, Godfrey, Lewis; Tettey ©, McLean; Buendia (Drmic; 83), Stiepermann (Srbeny; 88), Cantwell; Pukki (Subs not used) Fahrmann, McGovern, Hanley, Heise, Idah
- Bookings: Byram, McLean, Cantwell
- Goals: McLean (18 mins), Cantwell (28 mins) Pukki (49 mins)
- Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Rodrigo, Gundogan (de Bruyne; 57), David Silva © (Jesus, 57) ; Bernardo Silva (Mahrez; 74), Sterling, Aguero (Subs not used) Bravo, Cancelo, Fernandinho, Foden
- Bookings: Bernardo Silva
- Goals: Aguero (45th min), Walker (88th min)
- Added on time: 2 mins/ 4 mins
- Referee: Kevin Friend (Leics)
- Attendance: 27,035