x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Premier League: Manchester City in seventh heaven over Norwich thrashing

Goals from six different City men plus an own goal by Norwich resulted in a 7-0 romp on Saturday.

Manchester City's players celebrate with seven players getting their names on the scoring chart. Paul Ellis / AFP
Manchester City's players celebrate with seven players getting their names on the scoring chart. Paul Ellis / AFP

Man City: Johnson 16’ (og), Silva 20’, Nastasic 25’, Negredo 36’, Toure 60’, Aguero 71’, Dzeko 86’

Man of the match: David Silva (Man City)

MANCHESTER // It was a day to send Manchester City reaching for the record books and Norwich City searching for a dark room to hide in. A historic match for the hosts resulted not only in the biggest win of Manuel Pellegrini’s brief reign but in City’s largest in the top flight since 1968.

Whatever the statistical connotations for Norwich, the immediate implications are more worrying. Chris Hughton’s team are marooned in the bottom three and have conceded 11 goals in the space of five days in Manchester.

The problems of an under-pressure manager will increase, along with their fears of relegation.

“We all let the club down,” said Hughton. “We have to improve and improve quickly.”

The victors felt improvements have already been made.

“It was a really good performance,” said Pellegrini. “It is so important for me to see the team play the way I want them to.”

Indeed, Manchester City, a team with a 100 per cent home record and four-goal demolitions of Newcastle United and Manchester United to their name, are a fearsome proposition on their own patch. Yet for Norwich, perhaps the worst element was that their conquerors rarely needed to be at their very best. They were assisted at every turn. Hughton felt five of the goals were avoidable.

Errors have cost Manchester City of late but, with Pellegrini’s team established as the Premier League’s top scorers, their thoughts can turn from goalkeepers to goalscorers. Their seven strikes were shared around. The common denominator was the man embarrassed.

Indeed, it has been quite some time since Manchester City have been able to savour the troubles of a beleaguered goalkeeper. So if parts of the script yesterday were familiar, the resident protagonist was different and the outcome altogether more pleasing for Pellegrini.

Minus the dropped Joe Hart, his deputy at Etihad Stadium, Costel Pantilimon was a spectator in keeping the easiest of clean sheets. Hart’s England understudy John Ruddy endured an awful afternoon, beaten seven times and culpable for at least two of the goals. Schadenfreude comes naturally to football fans and Ruddy was mocked with chants of “England’s No 1”.

In truth, his team were second best in every department. Norwich pressed the self-destruct button and their conquerors’ finest passing move, a lovely one-two between Samir Nasri and David Silva before the Frenchman sauntered through to hit the post, did not produce a goal.

Instead, Norwich inadvertently opened the scoring. Michael Turner flung himself in the way of Sergio Aguero’s shot, the ball cannoned into his teammate Bradley Johnson, over Ruddy and in.

Nevertheless, it was the start of a devastating burst. The second goal was altogether classier. Aguero sprinted clear and teed up the advancing Silva. Ruddy got a hand to his low drive, but the ball nestled in the net nonetheless.

When Matija Nastasic met Nasri’s corner with a header that took a decisive deflection off Russell Martin, it was three goals in ten minutes. Ruddy, beaten at his near post, was left looking helpless and hapless again.

The goals kept on coming. Aguero centred for Alvaro Negredo to lift the ball into the roof of the net. Yaya Toure curled in a free kick, the fourth time he has converted a set piece from long range already this season. Finally Aguero got the goal he merited with a volley. Inexplicably, Ruddy dived the wrong way. Substitute Edin Dzeko completed the scoring with a neat finish.

“I didn’t expect to score seven goals,” said Pellegrini, praising his players for their hunger. He attempted to exacerbate their achievement by calling Norwich “a very good team”. This was not an occasion to justify that view.

As Hughton said: “We now have to prove we are a good enough side.”

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