Carlos Tévez and Sergio Aguero proved to be the match-winners in Saturday’s early kick-off at Carrow Road. Manchester City demolished Norwich City as they did earlier in the season as a new strike partnership was born. Tévez’s wonderful hat-trick combined with Aguero’s brace and Adam Johnson’s late goal stunned a resilient Norwich. The Canaries manager Paul Lambert appeared to have got his tactics spot on in the opening minutes as Norwich pressed the Citizens with the promoted side dreaming of an upset until Tévez scored an outstanding goal in the 17th minute. Half-time substitutes Wes Hoolahan and Andrew Surman did offer renewed impetus to the home side, halving City’s lead, but Tévez and Aguero added gloss to the scoreline with some exceptional attacking football.
It appeared Tévez would never play for City again following his much discussed dispute with Roberto Mancini. However, the Argentina forward scored a hat-trick, won man-of-the-match and helped get City back on track for a final tilt at the title. What a difference a couple of months can make as Mancini’s shrew decision to bring Tévez back into the squad appears to be paying dividends. His link-up play with David Silva and Aguero was top notch while his finishing was exceptional – the Argentine’s powerful swerving shot from an impossible angle left Norwich keeper John Ruddy powerless to prevent City’s opener. The second was a looping header which highlighted the poacher in Tévez while he displayed unerring composure as he rounded the hapless Ruddy once again, and simply slotted the ball into the vacant net to complete his hat-trick.
Both managers used their substitutions to full effect – the Norwich boss appeared to have pulled off a masterstroke at half-time, bringing on Hoolahan and Surman who caused problems for the City defence. In fact they were both involved in Norwich’s goal with Hoolahan’s cross causing confusion in the City backline before Andrew Surman finished the move. They continued to wreak havoc until the introduction of Yaya Touré. The Ivory Coast international reinvigorated the City side and spurred the Eastlands outfit to victory at Carrow Road. Mancini gave Silva a timely rest with key fixtures on the horizon, and his replacement Adam Johnson made sure there was no let-up, peppering the Norwich goal, hitting the crossbar and eventually finding the net in stoppage-time.
Last Sunday, City were eight points behind the Red Devils and seemed destined to finish runners-up. Now they are just two points behind with the red side of Manchester looking nervously over their shoulders. Of course United are accustomed to winning the league title at this stage of the season but they have a tricky home game against Aston Villa on Sunday. Sir Alex Ferguson and his squad will have seen City’s confident fluid performance at Carrow Road and it may bring back unwelcome memories of the 6-1 annihilation at Old Trafford earlier this season. After an intriguing Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium on 30 April, the top of the Premier League could have a whole new look about it.
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