A 10-man Manchester City have defied Norwich City 4-3 at Carrow Road in an entertaining encounter on Saturday.
City raced into a two-goal lead thanks to an Edin Dzeko brace inside five minutes, but Anthony Pilkington pulled one back before Sergio Aguero got the Blues’ third just after the break.
However, Samir Nasri had already received a straight red card in the shadows of the interval, and Norwich exploited their numerical advantage as unlikely scorer Russell Martin pulled a goal back.
Norwich keeper Mark Bunn then failed to keep out a powerful Dzeko strike, knocking the ball into his own net via the woodwork.
And although defender Martin scored a brace to put pressure on the champions late, Roberto Mancini’s men held on to win.
Despite losing to Chelsea last time out, Norwich fielded a very similar team as their only change saw the much-maligned Steve Morison started in place of Grant Holt, who picked up a late injury.
Mancini, however, was understandably annoyed with his side’s performance against Sunderland with four players suffering in particular. Kolo Toure James Milner, Javi Garcia and Carlos Tevez were all dropped to the bench as Gael Clichy, Gareth Barry, Nasri and Dzeko replaced them.
Last season, Norwich lost 5-1 and 6-1 at the hands of Mancini’s side and from the first five minutes it looked like being a similar scoreline. In just the second minute Aguero and Dzeko combined well down the right before floating the ball over to the left for David Silva, who in turn cushioned it into the area and the Bosnian fired it past Bunn for the opener.
Norwich looked a bit stunned and found them even further behind on the visitors’ next attack. Vincent Kompany powered through the middle, riding a challenge from Bradley Johnson before picking out Aguero, who took his time and picked out Dzeko who doubled his tally.
After City’s impressive start, the match threatened to calm down, but Norwich had other ideas.
Robert Snodgrass’ mazy run resulted in a controversial free kick on the edge of the area, and thanks to a deflection from the wall, Pilkington’s low effort beat Joe Hart.
Despite the Norwich goal, the champions continued to dominate and almost got a third through Yaya Toure before things turned sour right at the end of the first period as Nasri reacted angrily to a strong challenge from Sebastien Bassong and received a straight red card.
The second period did not go much differently as City soon had their third of the day thanks to Aguero. Toure played a great pass over the Norwich defence, but Bassong failed to deal with it and the Argentine forward delightfully lofted it over Bunn and into the net.
It did not take long for Norwich to hit back, however, and they did so through a well-worked corner. Snodgrass produced an excellent cross that Bassong headed back across goal and Martin put it into the top corner.
City soon restored the two-goal cushion. Another long ball was played over the Norwich defence and after bringing it down with his chest, Dzeko fired the ball on to the post, but it bounced back on to Bunn and went over the line.
At the match went on, it was not getting any less ridiculous and Norwich grabbed a third with just over 15 minutes to go. Hart failed to collect a Norwich corner and after an ensuing scrap, Martin knocked the ball in for his second.
Both sides pressed in the final minutes as Aguero had two very good efforts saved by Bunn, but the champions managed to hold on for the three points.