Manchester United 4-0 Norwich City
It’s dangerous to base too much on one result, particularly when it comes against a team who offered so little of note throughout the game, but this was a convincing victory for United, and how great it feels to be able to use those words in the same sentence.
Although Vidic and Ferdinand lined up in central defence, the emphasis in the team selection was on youth. Zaha was given his first competitive start and looked lively throughout, while Januzaj operated in the hole behind Chicharito. Once again, the eighteen year old didn’t waste the opportunity to impress. He bewildered the Norwich defence throughout, coming deep to orchestrate play and turning up on either side of the box to play balls inside or jink past defenders almost at will. It was this that brought United their breakthrough: Januzaj took the ball to the touchline only to be filled by Fer’s clumsy right leg. Perhaps the only thing more embarrassing than the challenge were the attempts of Norwich’s players to contest what was a simple decision for the ref. Chicharito took the penalty and made no mistake.
There was an exuberance to United’s play that’s been absent far too often this season. Clearly Norwich represented pretty ordinary opposition, but then the Reds have been unconvincing against opponents of that standard so often this term. With Jones and Cleverley impressing in central midfield, United moved the ball around at pace and there was a refreshing inventiveness about our play. Zaha’s speed, intelligence of movement and uncanny maturity on the ball was a delight, putting into the shade so many of his predecessors in that position this season.
Norwich started with a little more purpose in the second half but it was United who extended their lead, a fine cross from Buttner being met by Chicharito: although his first header drew a save from the keeper, the prolific Mexican was on hand to finish the job. From there the result was a formality and, although United left it late, it had seemed inevitable that more goals would eventually come.
Jones added a third when he met Bassong’s attempt to clear Chicharito’s header on the volley and finished emphatically. Januzaj was substituted in stoppage time to rapturous report from the Old Trafford crowd, but there was still time for his replacement Fabio to add another when he finished after receiving a superb pass from his fellow sub Rooney. Chicharito passed up the opportunity to complete a hat-trick soon afterwards, but his failure to do so was a minor disappointment in a highly satisfying performance.
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