Norwich City v Manchester City

Carlos Tevez scored a hat-trick as Manchester City heaped more pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester United

Good afternoon everybody. They've got me multi-tasking this afternoon, so I've been busy on our Grand National Day blog for the past couple of hours. The upshot: rather than read a match preview I've written, you get to enjoy one proper journalist Kevin McCarra prepared earlier instead.

"There has been a perverse type of stubbornness to Roberto Mancini," he wrote in today's Guardian. "He was still insistent that Manchester City could not win the title despite Manchester United's defeat at Wigan. If it was intended to relieve the pressure, it had the side effect of undervaluing a costly team. Mancini's wish seems to be for City to lurk in the shadows if that is feasible with the likes of Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez in his squad. The realist in him also knows how hard it could be to beat Paul Lambert's well-drilled Norwich at Carrow Road."

Match pointers

• Manchester City came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in their last visit to Carrow Road (in February 2005)

• Grant Holt has a better games-to-goals ratio (2.38) than any other player to have scored 10 or more Premier League goals for Norwich – Chris Sutton is second with 2.39

• If selected, James Milner will be making his 300th Premier League appearance

• Norwich have kept just two clean sheets this season; only one side in Premier League history (West Brom in 2010-11) had fewer after 33 games

• Only four of Sergio Agüero's 19 league goals this season have come away from home

Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Ward, Ryan Bennett, Drury,
Elliott Bennett, Howson, Johnson, Pilkington, Holt, Wilbraham.
Subs: Steer, Morison, Jackson, Surman, Hoolahan, Fox, Naughton.

Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, De Jong, Barry, Nasri, Tevez, Aguero, Silva.
Subs: Pantilimon, Richards, Milner, Dzeko, Johnson, Kolarov, Toure.

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

Yes, Chris Foy. So if the Merseyside official gives a few iffy decisions against your team, don't get the radge on to such an extent that you go sending angry Tweets and emails to multiple gold-winning Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy, like all those idiot Tottenham fans did back in December. Here's a handy guide to telling the two men apart, if you're not sure. Honestly ...

An email from Ryan Dunne: "Talking of Twitter Barry, I see that Stephen Fry is going to be following and presumably live tweeting this match, which made me ponder who the ideal MBM-officiator celebrity guest would be," he writes. "Personally, given they're apparently hanging out in London quite a lot, I'd love to see Kanye West and Kim Kardashian do an Arsenal or Chelsea game. Or how Joey Barton doing a top four clash, sprinkling it with Nietzsche quotes and egotistical statements on how he'd be much better suited to a big team?"

Here's an interesting stat: Every single one of Norwich's starting 11 today was born in England.

A few minutes ago ... the camera cut to Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini sitting all alone in the vistiors' dug-out, looking around him curiously, tapping both feet on the ground and eating a bar of chocolate. He looked very contented, like a little kid.

1 min: Game on! The ball's passed back to Joe Hart, who's immediately pressed by Norwich City striker Aaron Wibraham. Hart hacks the ball clear under pressure and concedes an early throw-in.

2 min: From a central position, David Silva scoops the ball over the top of a static Norwich defence. Samir Nasri makes a perfectly timed run, finds himself in space but fails to control the dropping ball with his outstretched foot. A let-off for Norwich - centre-half Ryan Bennett should have tracked that run.

4 min: Pablo Zabaleta picks up a pass from Carlos Tevez out on the right flank, cuts inside and tries to drill a low ball across the face of the Norwich City penalty area. Adam Drury blocks.

5 min: Splendid play from Anthony Pilkington. The Norwich left winger takes advantage of an over-zealous lunge from Zabaleta to hare down the left flank, cut inside, take the ball around the covering Vincent Kompany and drills the ball low and diagonally. His effort is neither shot nor cross - not near enough the bottom corner to trouble Hart , but not far enough away from it for Wibraham to poke home.

7 min: My word, this match has started at 150mph - there's been no let-up whatsoever. A mistake by Elliott Bennett at the back allows David Silva to fire at John Ruddy from point-blank range. Great block by the goalkeeper and the ball is hacked clear.

9 min: As he tries to scurry through the Norwich penalty area, Carlos Tevez goes down under a challenge from Ryan Bennett and referee Chris Foy blows his whistle ...

9 min: ... pulls out his yellow card and books the Argentinian striker for diving, much to the delight of Norwich's fans. It's an incorrect decision - replays show that Bennett clearly trod on the Tevez's foot as the City striker tried to shimmy past him. Manchester City should have had a penalty, there. Top cyclist Sir Chris Hoy caqn expect to get a lot of angry correspondence from Manchester City on the back of that bad call.

12 min: Corner for Norwich, which Elliott Bennett sends towards his namesake Ryan at the far post. He knocks it down to Bradley Johnson, who tries his luck from distance, only to see his effort put out for another corner.

14 min: Norwich go close from the corner. Cleverly obstructing Joe Hart, Aaron Wibraham backs into the goalkeeper and prevents him from jumping, allowing Grant Holt to get a free header which he directs goalwards. A last-ditch leap from Joleon Lescott prevents the ball from crossing the line.

16 min: This is a splendid game of football - I haven't had a moment's respite since kick-off. It's pretty even - both sides are playing well and entitled to feel fairly aggrieved they're not a goal up.

GOAL! Norwich City 0-1 Manchester City (Tevez 17) That is an astonishingly good goal for the golfing enthusiast from Buenos Aires. Capitalising on a sloppy pass from Elliott Ward, David Silva plays the ball out wide to Carlos Tevez on the right wing. He cuts inside and from 25 yards out and a fairly tight angle, unleashes a screamer into the top corner, beating John Ruddy at his near post.

21 min: With the Manchester City fans conspicuously chanting Roberto Mancini's name rather than that of the goalscorer, Tevez goes close again. Another shot from distance brings a smart save out of Ruddy, who'll be annoyed for letting the first one it at his near post. That said, I don't think he should be too hard on himself - on first impression, it seemed to me that Tevez got so much swerve on the ball, I presumed it had taken a deflection off Adam Drury, the left-back. It hadn't.

24 min: After a good start, Norwich are under increasing pressure now, as Manchester City start to turn the screw. Norwich's defence is continually getting caught square and flat-footed and unless Paul Lambert can perform some running repairs, they could get battered here - Tevez, Silva and Aguero are wreaking havoc on the edges of the final third.

GOAL! Norwich City 0-2 Manchester City (Aguero 26) That's an astonishing goal; absolutely marvellous. Tevez and Aguero link up down the left flank, turning Russell Martin and Ryan Bennett inside-out as they exchanged passes. The final pass is a little back-heeled dink inside from Tevez, which bounces up for Aguero to rifle past Ruddy into the top left-hand corner with his first touch. That's Roy of the Rovers stuff ...

31 min: It'd be interesting to hear what Manchester City fans - the more sane, intelligent and thoughtful ones, rather than the mouth-foaming, one-eyed halfwits whose opinions count for nothing - make of Carlos Tevez's return to the team.

Having returned from his tantrum and the ensuing five-month holiday, he's now showing them what they've been missing and all the evidence available suggests they could well be clear in the title race if he hadn't chucked his rattle from the pram in a parabolic arc after being asked to warm up twice in a Champions League match.

Personally, if I was a City fan, I wouldn't want a player who treated fans with such contempt to play for my team ever again, but I've previously been monstered by morons for suggesting as much on Twitter. But the fact of the matter is, I'd prefer if my club failed in its tilt at the title without a treacherous little scrote like him in the side than win it with him contributing goals after his five-month mid-season golf outing.

38 min: To borrow a phrase from Sky's match-analyst Davie Provan, Norwich are remaining "busy" in front of Man City's goal, but lack the finesse of their opponents. Grant Holt's had a couple of half-chances, but nothing that's troubled Joe Harte unduly.

41 min: With Pablo Zabaleta on a curling run in from wide on the left, David Silva tries to thread the ball through Norwich's centre-halves for the full-back to latch on to. It's a great idea in theory, but the Spaniard over-cooks his past, which runs wide.

44 min: Samir Nasri has just been booked for a foul on Elliott Bennett. Naughty boy.

45 min: Y"ou're right, Barry, in your dismissal of the scrote," writes Matthew Cobb. "But you are forgetting our hunger and hurt over decades. That trumps everything, I'm afraid, even Tevez's awful behaviour. We're all happy to be buying our way to the top, just like the other big clubs. Footie should be jumpers for goalposts etc, but it isn't. It's all about £££££££££££££££££."

A fair point well made, but it isn't quite, you know - if Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of Manchester City, with the resources they have, he'd have wrapped up the title race in a Premier League full of dreadful teams about four months ago.


Second half: Manchester City kick off. Norwich have made two changes at half-time: Wes Hoolahan and Andrew Surnam are on for Anthony Pilkington and Bradley Johnson. Hoolahan takes up a position in the centre of midfield, while Surnam goes out on the left wing.

47 min: Two points of interest ...

(1) I noticed from the replays at half-time that, upon opening the scoring, Carlos Tevez gave it the full cupped-hands-behind-the-ears during the course of his celebrations (see above). I'm not sure if that was directed at Norwich or Manchester City fans, but either way, it does demonstrate that he really just doesn't get it.

(2) On his way out for the second half, Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy is reported to have asked some Sky boffin with a monitor if he could have a look at the opening goal, because he wanted to see exactly how much dip and swerve Tevez had got on his shot for the opening goal. He was obviously completely bamboozled by the way it moved in the air.

GOAL! Norwich City 1-2 Manchester City (Surnam 51) Joe Hart comes for a cross from the left, leaps behind a cluster of players, doesn't get it and is left stranded in no-man's land as the ball drops kindly for the substitute Andy Surnam. He remains nicely composed as he picks his spot and buries the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from about 15 yards out. Good goal.

53 min: Norwich thoroughly deserved that goal, coming as it did after the opening five minutes of a second half in which they've been utterly dominant. Grant Holt hjad a half-chance not long before the goal was scored and he gets another one here, with Pablo Zabaleta having to make a crucial last-ditch block in the penalty area to prevent the Future England International from levelling the scores.

54 min: It's increidble just how much the tide has turned since half-time. Norwich are really bossing City now, piling on the pressure.

55 min: Manchester City finally get the ball out of their own half, with Sergio Aguero skipping past Elliott Ward and galloping down the left flank. As the Argentinian tries to pick out David Silva, up in support, the covering Johnny Howson dispossesses him and hacks clear. That's excellent defending from the central midfielder.

57 min: Coming in from the right, Aguero finds himself through on goal again and pulls the trigger. The shot he fires off is high velocity, but Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy has his angles covered and saves well at the near post.

59 min: Ryan Bennett gets booked for a cynical trip on Sergio Aguero.

59 min: Another fine save from John Ruddy, who blocks a Pablo Zabaleta shot from point-bank range at the edge of the six-yard box. The Manchester City full-back had ghosted in from an offside position, but the linesman's flag had stayed down.

61 min: "Our point of view is comparable to the situation faced by the nice, clean Sandy from Grease lusting after the bad boy," writes Mancvhester City fan Eden Tal. "We know Tevez is a disloyal mercenary always looking for Kia to feed him his next big feast but we just have to have him. It's a kind of grudging acceptance because we've so sorely needed a more dynamic forward. We are therefore grateful he's back for the title challenge but will be glad to see him go as mother doesn't approve."

62 min: Oooh ... that was close. Norwich City won a free-kick wide on the right, in a promising position. As assorted Manchester City players adjusted their laces, wondered about what they're going to have for dinner tonight or day-dreamed about that ambitious flop shot that didn't quite come off from the fringes of the 14th green at the Buenos Aires Country Club a few months ago, Wes Hoolahan asked for the referee's permission to take the free-kick and tried to whip it inside Joe Hart's unmanned left upright. The ball fizzed wide, but if it had been on target, would almost certainly have gone in. Good thinking by the crafty Irishman.

66 min: Manchester City substitution: Samir Nasri off, Yaya Toure on.

67 min: Sergio Aguero goes down injured and requires attention as Norwich City prepare to bring on the last of their three substitutes.

68 min: Splendid play from Wes Hoolahan, who goes on a rampaging run through the centre, with Grant Holt to his right and Aaron Wibraham on his left. Just as Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott stop backpedalling, Hoolahan pokes the ball into the path of Wibraham, but the striker tries to take it on his right when he should have shot with his left, making the save easy for Hart.

69 min: Norwich substition: Aaron Wibraham off, Steve Morison on.

70 min: With the Norwich defence playing a dangerously high line, Gareth Barry plays Carlos Tevez through on goal. The Argentinian skips clear of the defence and only has John Ruddy to beat, but has a stop put to his gallop by a whistle from Chris Foy that was prompted by the linesman's flag.

GOAL! Norwich City 1-3 Manchester City (Tevez 73) David Silva picks out Yaya Toure with a delightfully disguised reverse pass. The substitute shoots diagonally from right to left, but John Ruddy can only block his low drive. The ball bounces up in the air amnd Tevez leaps higher than Ryan Bennett to head into the empty net.

GOAL! Norwich City 1-4 Manchester City (Aguero 74) Anything Carlito can do, Kun can do better, it seems. He picks up the ball just inside the Norwich half, sets off on a slaloming run, beats Russell Martin and Andrew Surnam who were doubling up on him and curls a shot around John Ruddy and into the goal from distance. That's a marvellous solo goal.

78 min: Manchester subsitution: David Silva off, Adam Johnson on.

78 min: I think it's probably safe to say that Norwich City's goose is well and truly cooked. If you've got a goose you'd like well and truly cooked, here's a recipe for roast goose with pork, sage, and pear stuffing with a confit of pears from Norwich City chairwoman Delia Smith that you might find useful.

GOAL! Norwich City 1-5 Manchester City (Tevez 80) Ryan Bennett sells his goalkeeper John Ruddy with a dreadful backpass, allowing Carlos Tevez to nip between the two players and steal the ball, take it around the hopelessly stranded goalkeeper and poke it into an empty goal from about 15 yards out. He runs to the travelling City fans and celebrates by practicing his golf swing.

81 min: Manchester City substitution: Carlos Tevez off, I have no idea who replaced him. Apologies, I know that's not very professional of me. [Minute-by-minute reporter cups hands behind ears, then grins cheekily and practices golf swing, making everything OK.]

85 min: "I like to think of myself as sane, as least moderately so, yet I'm baffled by your suggestion that losing the league is somehow preferable to seeing Tevez win it," writes Steve George. "I don't know who you support, but have you no idea what it's like to lost in the wilderness for entire decades? If Tevez scores goals, then he plays, simple as that."

Really? You're that desperate to get your hands on a title everyone's just going to accuse you of buying with petro-dollars your club fell arse-backwards into? Fair enough. I support Sunderland, by the way, so I think I know where you're coming from. And if they were in contention for the title (ha-ha!) and their star striker did what Tevez did, I'd rather somebody else won it than a Sunderland team with that player in it.

89 min: Adam Johnson tries his luck with a shot from distance, only to clip the crossbar and see his effort go out for a goal-kick.

GOAL! Norwich 1-6 Manchester City (Johnson 90+2 min) Sergio Aguero picks out Gael Clichy, who'd made a rampaging run down the right wing. He sends a cross in towards the far post, where Aguero had continued his run. The Argentinian cushions the ball down for Johnson, who fires the ball past the hopelessly exposed John Ruddy from about 10 yards.

90+3 min: Moments before that goal, Yayya Toure had gone close - there was no let-up from Manchester City, who were either just enjoying themselves, or eager to improve their goal difference.

Peep! Peep! Peeeeeep! It's all over - Manchester City close the gap between themselves and Manchester United to two points, but the holders have a game in hand. Than ks for your time and your emails, many of which contain some of the most comically feeble attempts to justify the behaviour of Carlos Tevez and his inclusion in the Manchester City team that I've ever seen. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Last word this afternoon goes to Simon Everett, who has this to say: "A miserable afternoon for anyone who thinks there is any hope for decency in football," he writes. "Tevez scores a hat-trick and Dalglish's Liverpool get to the FA Cup final. Huh."

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