Heavy defeat in Manchester ends miserable spell as Canaries turn attentions to the future
- Credit: PA
There was little that relegated Norwich City could learn from their daunting trip to Manchester City - a 5-0 drubbing gave them a few more kicks on their way down however.
The Canaries were reminded they won’t miss VAR, as an early lead was chalked off when Onel Hernandez was correctly ruled offside, but that lesson had already been learned painfully.
Teemu Pukki’s drastic loss of clinical edge was also re-emphasised as the striker missed a fine chance to equalise in the first half, extending his run of games without a goal in open play to 21.
And Kevin De Bruyne’s beautiful goal to put the dominant hosts 2-0 ahead just before the break was yet another example of the quality at the top level. But ultimately this game just brought an end to a sad story.
All of that hope and optimism of a year ago has given way to a miserable relegation, sealed by a club record run of 10 consecutive league defeats to end a strange season, interrupted by a global pandemic and undermined by injury problems which left City’s lack of financial muscle brutally exposed.
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While rivals Watford, Bournemouth and Aston Villa were scrapping for survival elsewhere, the Canaries were just desperately hoping to frustrate Pep Guardiola’s superstars.
Injuries and suspensions meant the Canaries only named eight substitutes, the majority of whom were young and untested, including two goalkeepers.
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The problem was that those problems had come to a head when travelling to take on the super rich dethroned champions, who have out-scored champions Liverpool, who were saying farewell to club legend David Silva and who were preparing for a big Champions League tie against Real Madrid.
Sergio Aguero may have been missing through injury but Raheem Sterling, De Bruyne and Jesus formed a fearsome attack - with 63 goals between them in all competitions ahead of kick-off.
The hosts were on the front foot immediately, with Norwich scrambling defensively, but it was Farke’s team taking the lead in the eighth minute - or so they thought, just to add some more salt into the wounds.
Hernandez was prodded through by Marco Stiepermann - making his 100th appearance for City, alongside Jamal Lewis - and cut inside Kyle Walker, seeing his 20-yard shot dribble past Ederson into the bottom-left corner. But there was VAR, waiting to ruin the tiny glimmer of enjoyment, correctly ruling the Cuban had started his run just too early.
Within three minutes the home side had the lead, De Bruyne linking well with Sterling, whose cross was kept alive by Silva, to allow Jesus to prod past an unsighted Tim Krul.
The hosts’ movement and sharp passing was pulling the Canaries all over the place, with Ben Godfrey making a succession of blocks, but Lukas Rupp was able to play Pukki clean through after a misplaced pass in the 36th minute.
Unusually, Guardiola was chatting with Farke in the Norwich technical area as the chance unfolded, but the Finn never looked to be in control of the ball fully and Ederson thwarted him on the edge of the box and Cantwell could only chip the loose ball on to the roof of the net.
With possession pushing close to 80 percent for Manchester City, the game was settled as a contest in first half injury-time, De Bruyne stepping over the ball to lose Stiepermann and curling a beautiful shot into the top-right corner.
The second half saw home legend Silva denied a goal on his final Premier League appearance by a diving Krul save and Ederson out sharply at the other end after Hernandez had charged through for the Canaries.
Christoph Zimmermann was saved the pain of an own goal in the 65th minute, as he dived desperately to stop Jesus turning in a fine De Bruyne cross from the right.
Sterling poked the third through Krul’s legs after a fine De Bruyne through-ball in the 79th minute and Max Aarons denied the England star with a goal-line block soon after. Adam Idah’s low shot was denied by Ederson but then the icing on the cake came after Kenny McLean got in a muddle on the edge of his box, allowing Riyad Mahrez to thump in a fourth.
De Bruyne smashed a fifth in off the post late on, just after Josh Martin had missed a fine chance for Norwich after a lung-busting run down the right from Cantwell - which would have prevented a new Premier League record of just seven away goals scored in a season.
Akin Famewo and Jordan Thomas were handed their debuts during injury-time but the important thing for Norwich was that it was over, that they could finally draw breath and prepare for the next chapter of this story, after a humiliating spell.
MAN CITY (4-1-4-1): Ederson; Walker, Garcia (Fernandinho 46), Laporte, Cancelo; Rodri ((Gundogan 46); Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva (C), Foden (Mahrez 46); Jesus. Unused subs: Carson (GK), Stones, Zinchenko, Silva, Mendy, Otamendi
Booked: Cancelo (foul on Cantwell, 46)
Goals: Jesus (11), De Bruyne (45+1, 90), Sterling (79), Mahrez (83)
NORWICH (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Godfrey, Zimmermann (C), Lewis; Rupp, McLean (Famewo 90+2); Cantwell (Thomas 90+2), Stiepermann (Vrancic 77), Hernandez (Martin 87); Pukki (Idah 77). Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Mair (GK), Adshead
REFEREE: Craig Pawson
VAR: Darren England