A LATE Yaya Toure penalty earned Manchester City a 2-1 win and three points despite a brave defensive performance from Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium.
The Canaries shut out their illustrious opponents until the 67th minute when Nicolas Otamendi headed home Kevin De Bruyne's corner.
Cameron Jerome capitalised on Joe Hart's error to equalise seven minutes from time, but when Russell Martin handled Raheem Sterling's shot two minutes from the end, the skipper was dismissed and a penalty awarded.
Toure scored and earned his team a victory that at times looked beyond them after a valiant showing from Norwich, but Alex Neil will take a lot of pride from his players' display.
He enforced a bold change in terms of his formation, lining up with a 3-4-3 shape that saw Robbie Brady and Jonny Howson operating on the right with Martin Olsson and Matt Jarvis on the left.
Jerome led the Canaries attack in the absence of Dieumerci Mbokani who missed out through illness. In total, Neil made three changes from their last Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion.
Manchester City selected youngster Kelechi Iheanacho in their eleven, with Sterling on the bench. Record signing De Bruyne started in behind Wilfried Bony up front.
The hosts dominated possession from the off, with Neil's players defending from a deep position and allowing their opponents to keep hold of the ball.
Bony was the first player to test John Ruddy after ten minutes when he spun on the edge of the box and poked a left-footed effort at goal, with City's 'keeper comfortably palming the ball away.
Norwich then earned the first corner of the match out of the blue, from which Alex Tettey was left unmarked only to see his first-time shot blocked by a wall of Man City defenders.
Otamendi guided a header straight at Ruddy from Aleksandar Kolarov's corner just prior to Bony wasting the best chance of the game up that point.
The Canaries' sturdy defensive shape was breached as Iheanacho slid a ball into the Ivorian, who cut inside Bassong but lashed his shot wide of Ruddy's post.
Bony then had a similar try from 20 yards after De Bruyne's lay-off, before the visitors had their best opportunity from a resultant counter-attack.
Brady charged inside off the right flank and found Jarvis' run, and Joe Hart had to be at his best to block his well-struck shot behind for a corner.
When Brady tagged De Bruyne 25 yards from goal, Yaya Toure sized up the free-kick but Ruddy was his equal, moving to his right to beat the ball away, and City settled even more as half-time approached.
Man City threatened through a couple of corners, but Vincent Kompany's header was their only other opening and Norwich will have been happy with their own 45 minutes work.
HALF-TIME: Manchester City 0-0 Norwich City
Jarvis, who picked up a knock after a tussle with Toure in the first half, was replaced by Nathan Redmond at the break, and the winger looked lively from the off.
De Bruyne fired high and wide for Man City on 53 minutes after Sebastien Bassong's strong challenge on Bony in the box, but Manuel Pellegrini was sufficiently dissatisfied to make an early change.
Sterling was introduced in place of Iheanacho and he was at the centre of a counter-attack an hour in but Toure curled his shot wide from outside the area.
Just as the home crowd was beginning to grow agitated, however, Pellegrini's team took the lead from a set-piece on 67 minutes.
De Bruyne's outswinging delivery was met by Otamendi, who had lost his marker Ryan Bennett to power a strong header home leaving Ruddy with little chance to keep it out.
Their confidence grew immediately and they could have doubled their lead four minutes later through Bony, and as the final part of the game approached they were happy to keep the ball away from Norwich's reach.
The heavily-involved Bony saw another try deflect away from Ruddy's goal after tidy interplay with Kolarov, but just as it looked as though the home team had done enough City levelled.
Brady's cross towards the back post was spilled by Hart, and Jerome was on hand to tap in on the line.
More drama cost the Canaries two minutes from time, however, as hesitant defending lead to the penalty that earned Man City the winner.
Ruddy and Tettey got muddled and Sterling fired a shot at goal, only to see it blocked by the arm of Martin - Richard Madley pointed to the spot, and subsequently sent off the skipper.
Toure scored from 12 yards, a cruel blow for Neil's troops. Man City were then awarded another penalty when Brady felled Sterling in stoppage time, but Kolarov missed this time - even though the damage was already done for the Canaries, who went home without reward despite a valiant performance.
FULL-TIME: Manchester City 2-1 Norwich CityGOALS
: Nicolas Otamendi (67), Yaya Toure (pen 88) - Canaries:
Cameron Jerome (83)
: Hart, Sagna, Kompany (c), Otamendi, Kolarov, Toure, Fernandinho, Navas, De Bruyne (Fernando 73), Bony, Iheanacho (Sterling 54). Subs not used
: Caballero (GK), Demichelis, Mangala, Garcia, Roberts.
: Ruddy; Bennett, Martin (c), Bassong; Brady, Mulumbu (O'Neil 70), Tettey, Olsson; Howson, Jarvis (Redmond 45), Jerome. Subs not used
: Rudd (GK), Whittaker, Grabban, Hoolahan, Dorrans.
: Robert Madley