Roberto Mancini's men came roaring back into the title race in some style by smashing six past the Canaries and sending a clear message to their title rivalsManchester City saw off a battling Norwich City at Carrow Road in some style, running out 6-1 winners including a hat-trick for Carlos Tevez and two for Sergio Aguero as they piled the pressure on Manchester United at the top of the table.
City manager Roberto Mancini, aware of the threat the Canaries possessed, picked a full strength side for the game, combining the Argentinian flair of a strike force made up of Aguero and Tevez with the silky passing of David Silva.
The three were given free reign by their manager and the visitors reaped the reward from the newly reunited Argentinian partnership, seeing the duo get a five-goal haul between them as well as a late sixth from Adam Johnson.
An incisive pass from Gareth Barry created the first clear-cut chance of the game, finding Tevez in the box. His first touch was poor but he managed to nudge the ball into the path of David Silva whose shot from eight yards was brilliantly saved by John Ruddy.
| PLAYER RATING
|8.0||Worked his socks off and scored a wonderful hat-trick as he continues to impress and show his desire upon returning to first-team action.|
Despite the visitors' early dominance Grant Holt was almost celebrating the opener as he nodded a ball past Hart who was tangling with Aaron Wilbraham after a corner. It looked destined to be the first goal of the game but for a goalline clearance courtesy of the head of Joleon Lescott.
Minutes after Lescott’s vital header Tevez made another massive contribution to his side’s title challenge after his time away; he took advantage of a disorganised Norwich defence after Bennett’s pass was intercepted by Silva to open the scoring.
The Spaniard played in Tevez on the right-hand corner of the box at an improbable angle. However, the Argentine had no doubt in his ability, firing a lightning bolt of a shot towards the top corner before seeing the ball swerve massively to deceive Ruddy and end up in the middle of the goal.
Tevez and Aguero then produced a piece of Argentine magic to further their lead. Aguero played in his compatriot on the edge of the box, before receiving it back thanks to a clever backheel and with his first touch Aguero made no mistake in rifling the ball into the top corner.
Holt again came close to getting on the scoresheet after doing well to get his foot to a cross which was awkwardly behind him, but he still managed to swing his foot around the delivery which drew Hart into a good reaction save.
Half-time substitute Andrew Surman gave his side a fighting chance just after the break. He took advantage after Hart failed to control his box in an aerial challenge with Wilbraham, simply half-volleying the ball into the net.
Zabaleta then wasted a golden chance to cancel out Surman’s goal after eluding Adam Drury at the back post. He only had the keeper to beat but he fired it into Ruddy who made himself big to get the block in.
Norwich's hopes of getting anything from the game were, however, short-lived as an inspired push for an equaliser ultimately ended in the visitors enhancing their lead over the Canaries.
That man Tevez nodded the ball over Ruddy after the Norwich keeper could not control a fiercely-drilled shot from Yaya Toure, seeing the ball cannon up into the air to find the head of the Argentine.
The fourth of the visitors’ goals came courtesy of Aguero. Taking advantage of an obviously disheartened Norwich side he took the ball to the left side of the box, before dropping his shoulder and curling a beautiful shot into the bottom corner; Ruddy had no chance.
|CITY TO STEAL IT?
||Manchester City are 7/2 to win the Premier League with bet365
The formally exiled Tevez proved critics wrong again in this match after using his pace to punish Ryan Bennett’s shocking back pass, which was never reaching Ruddy, rounding the keeper before simply slotting the ball into an empty net to get his hat-trick.City had further chances to extend their lead with both Johnson and Aguero hitting the woodwork before Johnson finally made it six. Aguero swung in a cross to Clichy at the back post, who played the ball first-time into Johnson unmarked in the box for an easy tap-in.
Mancini had said before the game he was expecting a tough game at Carrow Road but the result suggests anything but. Having been eight points ahead of Manchester City less than a week ago Manchester United now take on Aston Villa tomorrow with their lead cut to just two points.
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