A LATE own goal from Manchester City’s George Evans gave a strong Norwich City Under-21s side an excellent 3-2 victory in an entertaining clash at Colney Training Centre.
Ryan Bennett, David Fox and Luciano Becchio all played 90 minutes in Monday’s afternoon’s game, but Jacob Murphy was the standout performer for City with two excellent first-half goals.
John Guidetti got a brace of his own to draw the visitors level, but Evans’ unfortunate slice into his own net six minutes from time meant Scott Marshall’s youngsters took the three points.
Marshall said after the final whistle: “I’m delighted with the result. We started well and got ourselves two goals in front, and I thought we were coping with everything they were chucking at us.
“They’ve got some quality players who were trying to work openings and you’ve got to work back defensively and we done that really well. We gave them a sloppy goal from a corner though.
“The boys stuck at it after they equalised, dug in and got what they deserved with a victory in the end.”
While City’s team boasted experience, the visitors’ eleven was full of continental flair, and in the first ten minutes it was a case of both sides working each other out on a weatherworn pitch.
After Marcos Lopes fired over for Attilio Lombardo’s Blues, City went ahead on 16 minutes when Murphy notched his first – the winger skipped past a couple of challenges before slotting past Ian Lawlor, who perhaps will feel he should have done better.
The Canaries were clearly confident after last week’s thrashing of Crystal Palace, and George Francomb hit the post minutes later and a short pass from Jamar Loza in the area.
Murphy was a constant thorn in Manchester City’s defence and got his second in spectacular fashion on 36 minutes, somehow shrugging off the attention of three players and firing in off the post.
The visitors didn’t pose much of a threat but got a break just before half-time when Guidetti poked in at the back post after City failed to clear what looked an unthreatening, low corner.
HALF-TIME: NORWICH CITY 2-1 MANCHESTER CITY
The nature of their goal boosted Manchester City and after Jed Steer made a good save to deny Denis Suarez, Guidetti netted his second from inside the six-yard box on 54 minutes, although a heavy deflection left City’s ‘keeper with little chance.
Norwich regained their composure and the second-half was played out more in the middle third, although Loza went close with a scuffed shot after good wing play from Francomb.
Francomb himself then had a charging run that ended in him driving a shot wide, before Adel Gafaiti made a timely block to deny Suarez on 77 minutes when the winger found himself in space in the box.
Just when it looked like the game was heading for a draw, Francomb powered a cross into the area that the luckless Evans could only slice agonisingly over Lawlor and into the net.
The fortunate circumstances surrounding the winning goal couldn’t detract from a resolute display from City and another three points that keeps them second in the Group Two table.
Marshall added on Murphy’s goals: “They were really good goals from Jacob. He’s had a good day today.”
GOALS: Norwich City – Jacob Murphy (16 & 34), Evans o.g. (84). Manchester City – Guidetti (45 & 54)
NORWICH CITY: Steer; Sheriff (c), R Bennett, Gafaiti, McNeil (Clunan 57); Francomb (Young 89), Durojaiye, Fox, Jacob Murphy; Becchio, Loza (Hall-Johnson 83). Subs not used: Matthews (GK), Norman.
MANCHESTER CITY: Lawlor; Facey, Plummer, Bossaerts, Leigh; Rusnak, Huws (c) (Bytyqi 74), Evans, Suarez; Lopes; Guidetti. Subs not used: Marin, Gunn (GK), Glendon, Cole.