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)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks