Roberto Mancini's side picked up three points despite making the match a lot tougher than it needed to be, with Samir Nasri receiving a straight red card
Manchester City ended 2012 with three points after beating Norwich City 4-3 at Carrow Road in a fantastically entertaining encounter.
City raced into a two-goal lead thanks to two early Edin Dzeko strikes, but Anthony Pilkington pulled one back before Sergio Aguero got the Blues’ third before halftime.
Samir Nasri received a straight red card and Russell Martin got Norwich’s second, and later got a second of his own after Mark Bunn put the ball into his own goal and ensured that City got the three points.
Roberto Mancini was understandably annoyed with his side’s performance against Sunderland, with four players suffering in particular. Kolo Toure James Milner, Javi Garcia and Carlos Tevez were all dropped to the bench as Gael Clichy, Gareth Barry, Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko replaced them.
Last season, Norwich lost 5-1 and 6-1 at the hands of Mancini’s side and from the first five minutes it looked like it would be a similar scoreline. In just the second minute Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko combined well down the right before floating the ball over to the left for David Silva, who in turn cushioned it into the area and the Bosnian fired it past Mark Bunn for the opener.
Norwich looked a bit stunned and was even further behind after the visitors’ very next attack. Vincent Kompany powered through the middle, riding a challenge from Bradley Johnson before picking out Aguero, who took his time and picked out Dzeko, who doubled his tally.
After Mancini’s side’s impressive start, the match threatened to calm down, but Norwich had other ideas. Robert Snodgrass’ mazy run resulted in a controversial free kick on the edge of the area, and thanks to a deflection from the wall, Anthony Pilkington’s low effort beat Joe Hart.
Despite the Norwich goal, the champions continued to dominate and almost got a third through Yaya Toure before things turned sour right at the end of the first period. Samir Nasri reacted angrily to a strong challenge from Sebastien Bassong and received a straight red card after going nose to nose with the Cameroonian.
After halftime, City soon had its third of the day thanks to Sergio Aguero. Toure played a great pass over the Norwich defense, but Bassong failed to deal with it and the Argentine forward delightfully lofted it over Bunn and into the net.
It did not take long for Norwich to hit back, however, and the Canaries did so through a well-worked corner. After the corner was taken short, Robert Snodgrass produced an excellent cross that Bassong headed back across goal for Martin to head into the top corner.
In keeping with the match, City soon restored the two-goal cushion. Another long ball was played over the Norwich defense and after bringing it down with his chest, Dzeko fired the ball on to the post, and it bounced back on to Bunn and went over the line.
The match wasn't getting any less ridiculous and Norwich grabbed a third with just over 15 minutes to go. Joe Hart failed to collect a Norwich corner and after an ensuing melee, Martin knocked the ball in for his second goal of the match.
Both sides pressed in the final minutes as Aguero had two very good efforts saved by Bunn, but the champions managed to hold on for the three points.