Norwich outclassed by City's 10 men

Manchester City 3 Norwich City 1
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The Independent Football

Four goals, chances in abundance, one penalty awarded and two denied, a deserved sending-off, five bookings and getting on for 32,000 people screaming themselves hoarse. Another average match at Maine Road then.

Accustomed to living on the edge as they are, even Manchester City's supporters must have been drained by the sheer theatre of this remarkable win yesterday, and the part they undoubtedly played in it.

Reduced to 10 men after 12 minutes by Danny Tiatto's customary stupidity, City might have folded. But with the crowd producing a genuinely daunting wall of sound, the men in sky blue both out-played and out-fought a Norwich team which at times looked as lily-livered as their shirts.

"This might be the start of something special between the fans and this team," said the City manager, Kevin Keegan. "They were our 11th man, and in the circumstances it was as good a performance as I have had from any team."

Sean Wright-Phillips had already been denied a near-certain penalty when Tiatto disgraced himself. The ball had long since left the scene when the combustible Australian tangled with Steen Nedergaard, grabbing his shirt and then swinging his elbow, appearing to catch the Dane's head right in front of the fourth official.

Nedergaard went down and for all the crowd's fury, the referee, Roy Pearson, had little choice but to send off Tiatto, who already has eight bookings this season, not to mention being sent off playing for Australia. To compound the offence Tiatto squared up to the Norwich bench before pathetically kicking their water bottles up in the air. Keegan, furious, ushered him none too gently down the tunnel.

"I think the referee just about got it right," Keegan said. "I don't think the player should take up boxing as he wouldn't last many rounds. Danny raised his hands, but I am more concerned about what he did afterwards, kicking bottles into their dug-out and wanting to fight the world. That's bad. I like Danny and I will sit down and have a chat with him."

For 10 minutes Norwich dominated, exploiting the space down the City left. Nedergaard put in a stream of crosses, but the nearest they came was when Carlo Nash saved well from Alex Notman. Gradually City regrouped, and just before half-time they took the lead. A leggy dribble by Paulo Wanchope looked to have been ended by Craig Fleming's tackle, but the ball fell kindly for Shaun Goater. The Bermudan picked out Eyal Berkovic, who shot inside Robert Green's near post.

Within two minutes of the restart Norwich were level. City were dozing when Nedergaard played a short corner to Paul McVeigh, whose cross was headed in by David Nielsen, the striker's sixth goal in as many games.

Far from quieting the crowd, the volume increased and Norwich visibly wilted. Berkovic played the ball into the area for Goater, who touched it past Green before being felled by the goalkeeper's ill-timed charge. Wanchope buried the penalty.

Soon afterwards Berkovic brilliantly made it safe, picking up a Nash throw just inside his own half and running down the left with Norwich defenders backing off. Skipping past Fleming's despairingly out-stretched foot inside the area, the Israeli glanced up and flicked the ball through Green's legs to make the game safe.

"Even with 10 men individual ability counted. Wanchope and Berkovic are world-class players," said the Norwich manager, Nigel Worthington.

Goals: Berkovic (43) 1-0; Nielsen (47) 1-1; Wanchope (63) 2-1; Berkovic (67) 3-1.

Manchester City (3-5-2): Nash; Pearce, Dunne, Howey (Ritchie 23); Tiatto, Horlock, Benarbia, Berkovic (Killen 87), Wright-Phillips; Goater (Huckerby 64), Wanchope. Substitutes not used: Weaver (gk), Negouai.

Norwich City (4-4-2): Green; Drury, Fleming, Mackay, Kenton; McVeigh, Holt, Russell (Easton 70), Nedergaard (Rivers 70); Neilsen, Notman (Libbra 70). Substitutes not used: Crichton (gk), Sutch.

Referee: R Pearson.

Booked: Manchester City: Horlock, Wanchope, Wright-Phillips. Norwich City: Russell, Mackay. Sending-off: Manchester City: Tiatto.

Man of the Match: Berkovic.

Attendance: 31,794.