Aguero's bit of brilliance and Balotelli's shrug sum up City superiority

Manchester City 5 Norwich City 1

Etihad Stadium

You could pick any number of statistics to illustrate this match. During the interval the screens flashed up the fact that Manchester City had enjoyed 78 per cent of possession. It was their 12th successive victory at Eastlands, in which time they had scored 36 and conceded five. However, perhaps the most telling statistic was that you could get only 8-1 with the bookmakers against Norwich losing 4-0. Old Trafford is no longer Manchester's most forbidding sporting venue.

Norwich had already gone to Stamford Bridge, Old Traffordand Anfield this season. Theyperformed well at Chelsea, they ought to have held Manchester United to at least a draw and they drew 1-1 with Liverpool. Here, like a man clinging to the rocks at high tide, they struggled manfully before being swept away. The Norwich manager, Paul Lambert, remarked that City's two late goals hurt: "because it looked like an absolute mauling which it wasn't."

It was, however, a defeat that was predictable the moment Norwich's defence gave way as Micah Richards, marauding down the right flank – always Manchester City's most dangerous route to goal – pulled the ball back for Sergio Aguero to turn through 360 degrees, leave Leon Barnett on the wet grass, and shoot past John Ruddy. It was his 13th of the season.

Norfolk is the land where the Lotus was born but here Norwich performed like a big clunky Volvo, sacrificing everything to safety. The halfway line was rarely crossed and City's attacks were thwarted by an out-thrust leg, a late tackle or a yellow shirt flung in the path of a shot. Before the interval, Norwich had less than a quarter of the ball but Lambert was right to observe that Ruddy only had a single shot to save.

"It was always going to take a bit of brilliance to open them up," said the Manchester City coach, David Platt. "But we have that type of player. We kept moving the ball, kept shifting it around and the bit of brilliance came."

Two minutes after the restart, Norwich had their opportunity to draw level but, although Elliott Bennett rounded Joe Hart, the angle was too tight and the shot finished up in the side netting. The collapse, however, was not long in coming.

It arrived without warning. Samir Nasri's free-kick was a gentle affair, directed at Edin Dzeko, who decided it was not worth pursuing and let the ball bounce in front of Ruddy, who simply pushed the ball into the corner of his net. The error was calamitous, especially since at Anfield in October, Ruddy's bravery and reflexes had helpedto earn Norwich a point.

Perhaps it was as well for the keeper's mental health that there were four other goals, although it might galvanise Nasri. Of the men Roberto Mancini has brought to Eastlands in the past 12 months, the boy from Marseilles appears to have had the most problems in adjusting, although Platt observed that "when he plays with that kind of zest, he is a force that can really hurt people."

By now Norwich were being hurt repeatedly as City's advantage in goal difference was pushed to stratospheric levels. Norwich clung on and scored one of their own with a fine header from Steve Morison but it was never anything other than a reminder that this was a side unused to capitulation.

Manchester City's goals looked casual but were superbly taken. Yaya Touré side-footed the ball into the corner of the net with an elegant swing of his boot while Adam Johnson found himself in a green sea of space in the closing moments and finished exquisitely.

However, perhaps typically, it will be Mario Balotelli's goal that will linger in the collective memory. It arrived from a distance of about six inches and began when Yaya Touré chipped into the box, allowing Johnson to feed the Italian, whose shot was blocked by Ruddy and spun up so gently that Balotelli was able to stand on the goalline and nudge it in with a shrug of the shoulders.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Richards, K Touré, Kompany, Clichy; Y Touré, Barry; Silva, Aguero (Balotelli, 72), Nasri (Johnson, 69); Dzeko (De Jong, 82).

Norwich (4-5-1): Ruddy; Naughton, Martin, Barnett, Tierney; Bennett (Holt, 60) Crofts, Johnson (Fox, 78), Pilkington (Hoolahan, 60), Surman; Morison.

Referee Howard Webb.

Man of the match Yaya Touré (Manchester City).

Match rating 7/10.

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Life and Style

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Life and Style

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album