Manchester United 4, Norwich City 0A SHINJI Kagawa hat-trick and a Wayne Rooney cracker saw Manchester United register a 4-0 victory over City as they went 15 points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League table.
United went ahead in first-half injury time through their Japanese international, and though City had a good spell of pressure midway in the second half they could not register a goal and United put the game beyond the visitors with three goals in the final 14 minutes of the game.
City boss Chris Hughton told Canaries Player of his disappointment at the final scoreline: "For good periods of the game we were very much in the game, I thought the 4-0 scoreline was a bit harsh on us.
"The first goal hurt us right before half-time, even though we hadn't created many chances but it's the second that really hurt us. We then had to open up and look to get back into the game but with their obvious quality that allowed them a bit more space.
"I'm really disappointed I really don't think we deserved to leave here with a loss of four goals. It's tough enough coming to Old Trafford but we conceded soft goals by our standards towards the end."
Hughton made one change from the side that beat Everton, Anthony Pilkington starting in place of Luciano Becchio. Holt started up front on his own with Hoolahan reverting to his role in behind his skipper.
With much made by the media before the game of Ryan Giggs' pending 1,000th senior appearance for United Sir Alex Ferguson did not name the Welshman in his last 18. But he did include the strong forward partnership of Rooney and Van Persie - the Dutchman recovering from the bruised hip he picked up at QPR last weekend.
Inside the first three minutes City worked themselves some good space and Johnson was fed with a pass out far left but unfortunately his delivery was too high and strong for the on-rushing Holt and Hoolahan who had pushed into the box to support.
On six minutes Van Persie looked to feed in Rooney but his pass was a little too strong and it gave Bunn time to come out and collect comfortably.Van Persie was put in on goal on the quarter of the hour by Rooney, which Mark Bunn was alert to and came and collected the ball at the feet of the United man, getting a knock in the process which required some threatment.
After a quiet spell for both sides the game opened up slightly and both teams put dangerous crosses into the penalty areas - the Canaries seeing Hoolahan's cross from the left find Holt but De Gea managed to collect the loose ball before Pilkington could get to it.
Van Persie delivered a high hanging corner on 26 minutes which Vidic connected with but it went high and over the City bar. On the half-hour City bodies were thrown in to block an initial effort from Rooney and then the loose ball as the hosts started to turn up the heat. This was swiftly following by Van Persie skying an effort into the Stretford End.
The Canaries were finding it difficult to get out of their own half with Evans and Vidic keeping tight control over Holt, but they remained organised in defence.
But in first-half injury time City were undone and were to go into the break 1-0 down. Van Persie got a vital touch on Valencia's cross from the right and the ball fell invitingly for Kagawa who slotted it home inside the near post.
Robert Snodgrass picked up the first yellow card of the game for a challenge on Patrice Evra.
Half-time: Manchester United 1, Norwich City 0
Neither manager made a change at half-time and City kicked off the second half attacking the Stretford End.
Six minutes in and the Canaries worked themselves their best opportunity so far - Russ Martin was found on the right and he delivered the ball to the near post where Snodgrass had made a run but Vidic got his foot in first to concede the corner.
A minute later and Bunn made a good tackle on Rooney to deny the England striker a shot on his goal. Holt won a free-kick for a push by Vidic and Snodgrass delivered a ball into the area but Bassong couldn't direct his header with any power and United's De Gea retrieved the ball.
Just ahead of the hour City put the United defence under some pressure with a Pilkington corner seeing Turner and Bassong fighting to get hold of the ball, Vidic hoofing it clear. Then Howson had a long-range effort deflected wide for another flag-kick.
Then on 62 minutes another good move by the Canaries - Pilkington's delivery to the far post found Holt and his header into the six-yard box saw Russ Martin connect, but lift the ball over the bar. But referee Neil Swarbrick had already blown for a foul - deeming Holt pushed down on Evra to win the header to the dismay of City's number nine.
Rooney dragged a shot wide on 64 minutes and then a minute later the first change of the game saw Danny Welbeck replace Van Persie for United.
Javier Garrido entered the referee's notebook for a block on Valencia as he looked to push down the right.
On 71 minutes came City's first substitution of the game, Wes Hoolahan making way for Kei Kamara, swiftly followed by Elliott Bennett replacing Snodgrass. United's second change also came, Anderson replaced by Tom Cleverley.
But on 76 minutes United doubled their lead with Kagawa's second of the game. Rooney picked up the ball and pushed forward into the penalty area to pass the ball across for the Japanese international to tap home from close range.
Shortly after Bunn pulled off a good stop with his feet denying Welbeck. United were firmly in control and their third came with four minutes left to play. Kagawa picked up the ball in midfield and a combination of Welbeck and Rooney moved the ball forward to find Kagawa again who chipped it over Bunn for his hat-trick.
And unfortunately they weren't finished when in the final minute of the game Wayne Rooney scored a cracker of a goal to make it 4-0 - Welbeck laying the ball off and Rooney setting himself up from about 25 yards out giving Bunn no chance.
Luciano Becchio made a late appearance replacing Grant Holt. Four minutes of injury time were awarded but it proved a comfortable victory for title favourites Manchester United.
Final score: Manchester United 4, Norwich City 0
Teams - MAN UTD: De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Anderson (Cleverley 73), Carrick, Kagawa, Rooney, Van Persie (Welbeck 66). Subs not used: Lindegaard, Rafael, Hernandez, Nani, Young.
CITY: Bunn, R. Martin, Johnson, Bassong, Turner, Snodgrass (E.Bennett 73), Howson, Holt (c) (Becchio 90), Pilkington, Hoolahan (Kamara 71), Garrido. Subs not used: Camp, Whittaker, Fox, R. Bennett.