x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Premier League round-up: Norwich stun Manchester United on the counter

Manchester City go top with five-goal demolition of Aston Villa, QPR slip to Southampton and Swansea win in Newcastle.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero scores his sides fourth goal. Peter Powell / EPA
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero scores his sides fourth goal. Peter Powell / EPA

Norwich City 1 (Pilkington 60') Manchester United 0

Norwich City continued their revival with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Manchester United at Carrow Road, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men blew the chance to go back top of the Premier League table.

After Manchester City had thrashed Aston Villa 5-0 earlier yesterday, only a win would have been enough for United to jump over their neighbours once again.

Ferguson said after the match: “You’ve got to give credit to the way Norwich defended – they defended for their lives tonight. The only chances we had were half chances. Their goalkeeper had a good night too. We had a lot of pressure but didn’t get the goal we needed.”

The home side produced another composed display to secure a third win in five league games with a fine header from Anthony Pilkington on the hour.

The midfielder said: “It’s a great day for the fans and Norwich City today. We’ve got a great squad here and a great set of players. The management said ‘keep believing’ – that’s what we’ve done. Now we’re unbeaten in the last six games and we’re starting to beat teams.

“It’s never over until it’s over against Manchester United. They score goals in the 95th and 96th minutes and it’s hard going. But we managed to hold on and get the win.”

Manchester City 5 (Silva 43’, Aguero 54’ (pen), 67’, Tevez 65’ (pen), 74) Aston Villa 0

Paul Lambert, the Aston Villa manager, railed against the officials after his side crashed to a 5-0 defeat at Manchester City.

Villa were only trailing 1-0 to the Premier League champions at Etihad Stadium when the hosts were awarded a penalty early in the second half.

The visitors were mystified when referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot, having spotted a flag from his assistant, as David Silva swung a corner into the box. It transpired Andreas Weimann had been penalised for handball as he leapt to reach the cross but the debate over what proved the game’s major turning point raged for some time.

Lambert said: “That’s never a hand ball. What the linesman saw there I do not know. You have got to be 100 per cent sure to give that and he saw something I think 50,000 other people never saw.”

Lambert added there was “no point” complaining to the referee.

He said: “We, as managers, are always hauled up, but that is a woeful decision.”

City took full advantage of the controversy as Sergio Aguero struck from the spot and then added another after Carlos Tevez had scored a second penalty. Tevez wrapped up the scoring with his second of the afternoon, to take City top of the table.

City’s form has been under scrutiny but they remain unbeaten in the competition and are well on course in their title defence.

Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, said: “I am very satisfied with this performance.

“In the first half we played well created a lot of chances but we were too soft when we had chances to score. But we played well and this is the most important thing.

“In the last two games I think we changed something. In our mind we found a good spirit, like last year.

“For us it is very important we start to play well and in the last two games we have scored six goals with our strikers. I think we have been missing their goals.”

Mancini also praised goalkeeper Joe Hart, whose form has been questioned in recent weeks and criticism increased after his display in England’s loss in Sweden.

Mancini said: “This is his job.

“He received criticism from you [the press] after the international game, but this is part of our life.

“Sometimes you can do well, sometimes you can do bad games.

“But it is important to have very strong characters in this situation. Today he saved in the first half [in] an important situation.”

Mancini confirmed striker Mario Balotelli, who was absent from the matchday squad for a second successive week, had suffered a back injury in training.

Newcastle 1 (Ba 90’) Swansea 2 Michu 58’, De Guzman 87’

Michu set Swansea on the road to victory at Newcastle as the depleted home side – missing striker Papiss Cisse because of a wrangle with the Senegal Football Federation – slipped to a second home defeat in seven days. Swansea’s win was secured by Michu’s header and a second from Jonathan de Guzman, before Demba Ba pulled one back at the death.

QPR 1 Hoilett 49’ Southampton 3 Lambert 24’, Puncheon 45’, Ferdinand (og) 83’

Nigel Adkins’s Southampton won the battle dubbed “El Sackico” as under-fire Mark Hughes saw his side’s winless start to the league season extend to a 12th match. Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon put Southampton 2-0 up. Junior Hoilett clawed one back four minutes into the second period, but the visitors wrapped up victory with an Anton Ferdinand own-goal.

Reading 2 (Le Fondre 51’, 78’ (pen)) Everton 1 (Naismith 10’)

A second-half brace from Adam Le Fondre gave Reading their first Premier League win of the season at the expense of Everton. David Moyes’s side had lost only one in 20 league games heading into the clash and Steven Naismith gave them a half-time lead. But Le Fondre made them pay for not extending their lead, heading an equaliser before firing in a second from the penalty spot with 12 minutes left.

West Bromwich Albion 2 (Long 10, Odemwingie 51’) Chelsea 1 Hazard 39’

Striker Peter Odemwingie made it a miserable return to The Hawthorns for Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo with a second-half winner. The Nigerian international headed home a cross from Shane Long, whose opening goal had been cancelled out by Eden Hazard. It condemned Di Matteo, who spent two years as West Brom manager, to a first away league defeat of the campaign.

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