NORWICH City ended their second consecutive Premier League campaign in the best possible fashion with a famous 3-2 victory over Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.
Jonny Howson's superb individual goal midway through the second-half at the Etihad Stadium settled a frenetic final day encounter and inflicted only a second home defeat for the Citizens in the league this season.
Anthony Pilkington and Grant Holt netted City's other goals, with each being cancelled out by strikes from midfielder Jack Rodwell.
The unexpected outcome means Chris Hughton's side finish 11th in the Premier League table, but it was no less than the Canaries deserved after a confident and swashbuckling display.
They made one switch from last weekend’s memorable 4-0 triumph over West Bromwich Albion, with newly-crowned Player of the Season Sebastien Bassong missing from the squad of 18 - Steven Whittaker took his place in the starting line-up.
The home team made five alterations from their midweek win at Reading, with Edin Dzeko brought in to partner Carlos Tevez up front and Rodwell slotting into central midfield.
Norwich took to the field in their brand new Errea home kit and they started positively, with skipper Holt looking to have broken clear of the City defence only to be adjudged offside and Bradley Johnson having a long-range effort blocked by one of his own team-mates.
Holt then dragged a shot wide on 13 minutes after shrugging off the attentions of Joleon Lescott as he met Wes Hoolahan’s pass, but Manchester City showed their threat moments later when Dzeko flicked Samir Nasri’s cross straight at John Ruddy
City were showing confidence on the ball and went close to opening the scoring on 22 minutes when Ryan Bennett met Robert Snodgrass’ corner, only for Lescott to head clear off the goal-line.
They continued to press and got their reward on 26 minutes – Hoolahan somehow wriggled free of Yaya Toure and Lescott before stabbing a pass through to Pilkington, and the winger’s finish left Joe Hart with no chance.
It was the former Huddersfield man’s first goal since the two sides last met in December, but the hosts hit straight back and the Canaries will be disappointed with their defending.
Dzeko was allowed to lay a short pass off to Rodwell, who was afforded too much space in the box and duly fired past Ruddy, netting his first goal for the Citizens since his move from Everton.
Snodgrass responded by whipping in a free-kick that Hart tipped over and Dzeko nodded over the bar up the other end, with the game harbouring an openness resulting from neither side having any serious issues to resolve in the league.
The Canaries finished the half strongly - Holt and Hoolahan combined effectively on 41 minutes, with the Irishman’s cross just out of reach of his partner before Snodgrass drove a shot through a crowd of players and just wide of the left post.
HALF-TIME: Manchester City 1-1 Norwich City
Only three minutes into the second period, Johnson forced an outstanding save from Hart as he found himself free in the box from Snodgrass’ free-kick and met the ball with his head.
His effort was downward and forced Hart onto his heels, but the England goalkeeper managed to scoop the ball away from his goalmouth in acrobatic style.
Norwich then took the lead once more on 54 minutes in superb fashion – Hoolahan’s displayed his vision again with an incredible first-time ball to Snodgras, and City’s winger wasted no time in finding Holt unmarked at the back-post from the right, with City’s skipper making no mistake.
The yellow and green corner of the ground rose to perform the ‘Poznan’ celebration in front of the Manchester City supporters who first adopted it in English football, but the fervour didn’t last long when the hosts equalised five minutes later.
Yaya Toure picked out the charging Rodwell down the left, and the midfielder outstripped Whittaker, evaded his challenge and then sneaked his shot into the far corner past Ruddy.
Chris Hughton’s side weren’t perturbed and what followed was one of the goals of the season from Howson – City’s revitalised midfielder picked up the ball in his own half and scythed through the home midfield and defence before a placing a perfect finish under Hart.
It came just as the home team looked the most likely to edge ahead for a first time, but they couldn’t have foreseen an unbelievable goal from the former Leeds man that gave the Canaries the lead for the third time in the match.
This time, they didn’t concede in the immediate aftermath of scoring but the Citizens naturally had the majority of possession in their pursuit of a leveller as the game reached its final quarter.
Norwich were resilient however and Ryan Bennett made an timely interception just as substitute Sergio Aguero looked poised to strike from inside the box with five minutes left.
The Argentinian then saw a shot deflected wide after David Silva’s clever pass, but Norwich could have put clear air between themselves and the former champions in stoppage time but Alex Tettey’s effort curled just around the post.
It wasn’t to matter though, as the whistle blew on an unlikely victory for the Canaries.
: Manchester City 2-3 Norwich City
: Manchester City – Jack Rodwell (29, 59). Norwich City – Anthony Pilkington (26), Grant Holt (54), Jonny Howson (65).
: Hart; Zabaleta (c), Richards, Lescott, Kolarov; Milner, Toure, Rodwell (Silva 65), Nasri; Dzeko, Tevez (Aguero 50). Subs not used: Pantilimon (GK), Clichy, Maicon, Garcia, Barry.
: Ruddy; Whittaker, R Martin, R Bennett, Garrido; Howson, Johnson (Tettey 66); Snodgrass, Hoolahan, Pilkington (E Bennett 81); Holt (c) (Becchio 90). Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Fox, Barnett, Butterfield.