Manchester United can now see their 20th league title shining at a distance after they crushed Norwich City 4-0 at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils certainly had revenge on their mind as they faced the side which were responsible for their last defeat (in November!) at Carrow Road. United have not lost a game since and have gone 14 league games unbeaten now. 🙂
Both the sides put out a rather traditional 4-4-2 lineup but United were to benefit more from it, the match being played at Old Trafford. 😉 United started the game with what can be loosely be called as their second string team with Johnny Evans partnering Nemanja Vidic in the heart of defense, accompanied by Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling as the full backs. Michael Carrick and Anderson took up the midfield job with Antonio Valencia and Shinji Kagawa on the wings. United’s top striking duo, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, completed the squad upfront. Ryan Giggs, who was due to make his 1000th senior appearance, had to wait a little longer as he was rested along with defenders Rio Ferdinand and Rafael Da Silva for the crucial upcoming match against Real Madrid on Tuesday.
A slow start to the game, United could’ve been in trouble early on as the Canaries looked to counter in the 3rd minute. Unfortunately, nothing came of it as he somehow managed to miss two of his free teammates and shoot the cross in the stands. The first real threat from United came at 15 minutes when a slick pass from Wayne Rooney had van Persie one-on-one with the opposition goalkeeper, but Mark Bunn made a brave safe diving into the oncoming striker’s path. The first shot on target came 10 minutes later as Michael Carrick faked his shot with some brilliant footwork and had a go with his weaker foot. The result was a tamed effort on goal which didn’t bother the goalkeeper much. United grew in confidence as time went by, conjuring up moves but the final touch eluded them each time. Part of the credit goes to Norwich’s brave defending as well, as Michael Turner, Robert Snodgrass, Sebastian Bassong put their bodies in the line of fire more than once to keep their team at bay.
It looked like both teams would head into the tunnel level on score till United managed to find their opening goal in first half injury time. Chris Smalling fed Anotnio Valencia who crossed it low into the box in van Persie’s path. The striker looked stretched but managed to get a touch on the ball and nudge it into the path of Shinji Kagawa. Kagawa scored his first goal since September against Tottenham Hotspur with the outside of his foot and made sure Man Utd ended the half on a high.
It was Norwich who started the second half with more intent dominating possession early on. Snodgrass had an opportunity from a cross by Anthony Pilkington but Vidic was up for the task and cleared the ball behind the goal. The canaries almost had their equalizer when Martin failed to hit an open goal from 4 yards out, but was thankfully spared the embarrassment by the referee who penalized Grant Holt for fouling Patrice Evra. On the other end, Kagawa put Wayne Ronney through with a defense cutting pass but Mark Bunn did just enough to get the ball out for a corner.
Sir Alex brought on Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverly to introduce fresh legs and gain some control over the match where it looked as if United would have to grind out an ugly win. But Kagawa was there to ease the pressure on United at 76 minutes when he scored his second. 🙂 The move began with Michael Carrick releasing Wayne Rooney with an overhead lob pass. Rooney shrugged off Bassong and moved the ball to his left foot. Just when everyone thought he was gonna shoot, he calmly moved the ball into oncoming Kagawa’s path who, even more calmly, passed the ball into the net. 🙂
Not many knew United were only half done till now. Welbeck, on the 87th minute, charged into the heart of Norwich’s defense and passed it on to Rooney. Rooney was again the provider for Kagawa who scored his third for the hat-trick with an impudent chip over the goalkeeper. Sir Alex has said in his interviews that Kagawa’s best is yet to come. We surely can wait for his best performance if this is his average! 😀
At last, but certainly not the least, Wayne Rooney put a cherry on top with his fine shot in the 90th minute. Its not easy to not give in to the cries of “SHOOT’ of thousands of people in the theater of dreams. And that’s what happened when Wayne Rooney took his shot. 🙂 Instead of going for power, he went for precision and dipped the ball over the goalkeeper’s head to score United’s 4th of the afternoon.
While Kagawa certainly shined through with his match winning hat trick, the performance of Wayne Rooney cannot go unnoticed with two assists and a goal to his name along with numerous occasions of brilliant football. Michael Carrick, the unsung hero of United’s squad this season put in his share of work and made sure the defenders had an easy day at work, whilst providing brilliant opportunities to the players in front.
Manchester United restore their 15-point lead at the top and put the pressure back on rivals Manchester City who play Aston Villa on Monday.
United certainly looked ready for Real Madrid on Tuesday night (who themselves are on fire by beating arch rivals Barcelona twice in a week). It truly is going to be a clash to savour.
Glory Glory Man Utd!! 😀