Premier League action makes its way back to Carrow Road this weekend as Norwich City host Manchester United for the tenth matchday of the season.
One of City’s best wins against the Red Devils came 14 years ago, in April 2005, as Nigel Worthington’s side beat the title-challenging Man United in an impressive 2-0 win.
Norwich City 2-0 Manchester United
5 April, 2005
What was on the line?
Just seven games remained of the season, the Canaries were sitting 20th in a competitive battle for survival in the Premier League, each point instrumental in the fight to stay afloat and out of the dreaded relegation zone. Coming off the back off a five-run loss and a 4-1 blistering by Arsenal, it was hard to remain optimistic about City’s Premier League hopes.
For Man United, anything but a win against the Canaries was almost certain to end their Premier League title race. Soon-to-be champions Chelsea were flying, not losing a game in 22 fixtures. While United were doing well, going unbeaten in 20 consecutive games themselves, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side needed a perfect end to the season to even think about catching up to the London side.
How did the game unfold?
The first sight of goal didn’t come until the start of the second-half, but when it did, it gave the Canaries something to sing about. A free-kick delivered in the box by David Bentley was met by the head of City’s 2004-05 top scorer, Dean Ashton, opening the scoring in the home side’s favour.
Man United tried their best to respond with a goal of their own, but thanks to commendable performances from Craig Fleming and Jason Shackell, United found themselves falling short at the final hurdle.
Just when it looked bad enough for United’s title hopes, Leon McKenzie made sure to put the final nail in the coffin, lacing in a volley past Tim Howard with ease, taking the score to 2-0 in the 66th minute.
A flat Man United continued to provide no answer to the two goal deficit, going on finish the game 2-0, as City kept a clean sheet in a time they needed it most.
A 2-0 result wasn’t ultimately enough to keep the Canaries in the Premier League, falling short by a point to West Bromwich Albion as the season ended.
Norwich City: Green, Fleming, Shackell, Helveg, Safri, Drury, Francis, Stuart (Bentley, 46), Ashton (Svensson, 84), Huckerby (Jonson, 86), McKenzie
Subs not used: Ward, Doherty
What happened next?
City went on to win three of their last six games, drawing one and losing two – a run that saw them fall short of survival by a point to West Bromwich Albion, seeing the Canaries back to the Championship the following season.
As for Man United, the result almost certainly ended their Premier League title race. The side lost to Everton the following week, and then to that season’s champions, Chelsea, in the penultimate game of the season. Arsenal maintained their fine form to keep hold of second place, leaving Man United settling for third that season.
What the media said
“With their Premiership lives on the line, Norwich showed plenty of spirit and grew in confidence as they put United under pressure” - BBC
“McKenzie was booked for removing his shirt in celebration, but Carrow Road barely noticed amid its ecstasy. Both in team selection and initial attitude, there was a complacency to United, their shape unfamiliar and not seeming to suit them. Not Norwich. They kept it simple and effective. The cause is not lost to them and its chase goes on.” – The Guardian