Pilkington header seals win over Red Devils
A PACKED Carrow Road witnessed a night to savour for Canary fans around the world as Anthony Pilkington headed City to a fantastic Barclays Premier League victory over Manchester United.
Pilkington met a pinpoint cross from Javier Garrido with a sensational glancing header which looped over Anders Lindegaard in United’s goal in the second half.
It was City’s third consecutive Premier League clean sheet and extended their unbeaten run to six games.
After the game City boss Chris Hughton commented: “It's a wonderful feeling and more so over the 90 minutes when you're up against the players they've got, and all the changes they can make, it's a really tough day to keep a clean sheet.
"I thought we restricted them to minimal chances and I can't think of a clear-cut opening that they had - certainly not like we had at the end with Jonny Howson, which could have made it 2-0. Every one of the players were excellent today."
Hughton named an unchanged starting line-up again while for the visitors a notable absentee was England star Wayne Rooney.
As the game got underway against the backdrop of a vibrant Carrow Road atmosphere, it was United who created the first chance as Van Persie turned on the edge of City area before drilling in a low shot which Ruddy dived to parry away.
At the other end Snodgrass took the initiative with an opportunist first-time strike which flew high and wide of the goal.
In the 7th minute a superb quick-fire counter from the Canaries saw Hoolahan set Pilkington free but his angled drive flashed narrowly wide of the far post.
In the 15th minute Young hit a curling free kick which Ruddy saved comfortably, while at the other end Hoolahan fired in a left-footed effort which Lindegaard gathered on the bounce.
The Canaries were organised and compact at this stage, looking to hit United on the break. They nearly did when a sweeping cross-field move saw Holt’s vison pick out Pilkington and his ball set up Garrido to power in a shot which flashed across the face of goal and wide.
City went close again in the 37th minute as Snodgrass jinked past Ferdinand into the box and squared for Holt, whose close-range effort was blocked by Smalling.
United hit back and went close themselves as a corner fell to Ashley Young and his shot through a crowd of legs was brilliantly tipped away by Ruddy.
Half-time: Norwich City 0, Manchester United 0
United started the second half strongly, Van Persie forcing another save from Ruddy with a low shot after a high ball into the box wasn’t cleared.
In the 50th minute a deep Snodgrass free-kick from the right touchline caused momentary panic in the United six-yard box and appeared to strike the back of Rafael on the line before being cleared to safety.
But as the game hit the hour-mark an excellent spell of play for City ended with them taking the lead to stun United.
It came when Javier Garrido’s excellent cross from the left was met with an equally good glancing header from Pilkington which looped over the despairing dive of Lindegaard and into the top corner.
United’s urgency increased and in the 68th minute they made a double change as Scholes and Welbeck replaced Valencia and Hernandez.
City were throwing their bodies on the line for the cause and in the 74th minute Tettey did just enough to deflect Welbeck’s header behind for a corner.
With eight minutes of normal time remaining Hughton made a double change, both Holt and Hoolahan receiving a deserved ovation for running their socks off, as they were replaced by Morison and Howson respectively.
And Howson had the chance to make a sensational impact in the last minute of normal time but stabbed a shot wide of the post with only Lindegaard to beat to set up a nervous four minutes of injury time.
But United’s best chance of snatching an equaliser went in added time when Bassong’s header seemed destined to end up in his own net only for the in-form Ruddy to pull off a great one-handed stop to push the ball over the bar.
Full-time: Norwich City 1, Manchester United 0
Norwich City: Ruddy, Whittaker, Johnson, Bassong, Turner, Snodgrass (E.Bennett 90), Holt (c) (Morison 82), Pilkington, Hoolahan (Howson 82), Garrido, Tettey. Subs not used: Bunn, Jackson, Tierney, R.Bennett.
Manchester United: Lindegaard, Rafael, Evra (c), Ferdinand, Valencia (Scholes 68), Giggs, Smalling, Hernandez (Welbeck 68), Carrick, Young, Van Persie. Subs: Johnstone, Jones, Anderson, Cleverley, Fletcher.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.