Anderson uses head as United ride luck

Manchester United 2 Norwich City 0: Ferguson relieved after profligate Norwich let champions off the hook

Yet another title was celebrated at Old Trafford yesterday as Lancashire paraded the County Championship cricket trophy around the pitch before kick-off, and if Manchester United can win while playing as poorly as they did yesterday then the Premier League version is surely destined to follow it at the end of the season. United played well below their best but still set a club record of 19 successive home League wins.

United supporters expecting normal service to resume after last week's dropped points in The Potteries and against Basle would have been disappointed. Sir Alex Ferguson had called Tuesday's 3-3 draw in the Champions' League a wake-up call but United dozed in the unseasonal sun for most of the match, rousing themselves briefly in the second half to score twice through Anderson and Danny Welbeck and remain ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table.

"You couldn't say that was a good performance," Ferguson said. "But it was gritty, determined – as we always are – and we never gave in, which is a fantastic quality, and we remain undefeated at home."

Norwich City played well but were let down by poor finishing. Wayne Rooney alone, with nine League goals, has scored more than the entire Norwich team this season, and yesterday they missed a superb chance to take the lead, hit the post when only 1-0 down, and ended up joining the long list of teams to leave Old Trafford wondering, "What if?"

Paul Lambert, the Norwich manager, recognised the reality of what had happened. "We played well, had chances but you can't keep them out for 90 minutes," he said. "You switch off for a millisecond and you get hurt. If you come to places like this and make chances you've got to take them. I'm gutted for the players for the way they played and their effort."

Ferguson had benched David de Gea and Rio Ferdinand in favour of Anders Lindegaard, who made his Premier League debut, and the returning Jonny Evans, while Ashley Young was rested with a knock, although it is not expected to keep him from England duty.

Both Ferdinand and De Gea had had testing weeks – Ferdinand had lost a court battle for damages against a newspaper, and De Gea was detained in a supermarket after allegedly eating a doughnut without paying for it. Ferguson said he had rested De Gea because he faced two matches for the Spain Under-21 team.

Norwich began confidently, their yellow-and-green colours making them look like an 11-man anti-Glazer protest that had somehow sneaked past security and on to the field. Steve Morison, mostly alone up front, made life as difficult as he could for Phil Jones and Evans, but Norwich spent most of the first half defending in numbers, giving United little space.

United still made chances, Marc Tierney clearing after Darren Fletcher escaped his marker to flick Nani's corner goalwards, but the home side struggled to find any fluency, and were jeered by the Norwich fans for refusing to return the ball to their side when Nani, who was having a frustrating afternoon against Tierney, went down in a heap.

Instead of stepping up a gear in the second half, United were even more lax, misplacing passes under little pressure, Nani one of the worst culprits, and Norwich began to fashion chances. Morison got past Evans and set off for goal with Wes Hoolahan up alongside him only for Jones to drive him wide of goal and then block his intended pass. Then Lindegaard made an alert save from Anthony Pilkington's deflected shot.

After 66 minutes, Pilkington made and missed the chance of the match, robbing Antonio Valencia and advancing into the penalty area with only Lindegaard to beat but rolling his shot wide of the far post.

How costly was it? Two minutes later, the substitute Ryan Giggs took a corner on the left, Jones nodded the ball back, Rooney helped it on and Anderson headed past John Ruddy from four yards.

City were not finished, and Pilkington tried his luck again, his shot looping off Anderson, past Lindegaard, off the post and back to the goalkeeper. Morison then produced something that was neither a pass nor a shot when clear on the left. With three minutes left, United showed how it was done. Park Ji-Sung set up Danny Welbeck, another substitute, to distort the score still further.

"We controlled the game, but counterattacks could have hurt us," a clearly relieved Ferguson said. "There was an incredible chance for them but he's knocked it wide and it was a break for us. And once they went down they continued to have a go."

Manchester United (4-4-2): Lindegaard; Valencia, Jones, Evans, Evra; Nani (Giggs, 65), Fletcher, Anderson (Ferdinand, 77), Park; Rooney, Hernandez (Welbeck, 65).

Norwich City (4-4-1-1): Ruddy; Naughton, Barnett, Martin, Tierney; Bennett (Crofts, 72), Fox (Jackson, 72), Johnson, Pilkington; Hoolahan (Martin, 85); Morison.

Referee Stuart Attwell.

Man of the match Pilkington (Norwich)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition