Manchester United 4 Norwich City 0 match report: Shinji Kagawa steals spotlight from Giggs to claim his own record

Midfielder is first Japan player to score League hat-trick as veteran waits for his 1,000th game

old trafford

After smiling benignly as the build-up gathered pace through the week, Sir Alex Ferguson pulled the rug from under all the eulogies by asking Ryan Giggs to wait for his 1,000th senior game, sparing his longest-serving disciple even the need to sit on the substitutes' bench as Manchester United turned a stuttering start into a stroll in the end, opening up a 15-point gap at the top of the Premier League.

Click here to watch the highlights of the game

The spotlight was taken instead by a young man from Japan at the other end of his career. Displaying a deftness of finishing touch that the Welshman, sitting in his tracksuit behind the active participants, could only admire, Shinji Kagawa, the attacking midfielder Ferguson signed from Borussia Dortmund last summer, became the first Asian player to score a hat-trick in the Premier League.

At 23, Kagawa is a player Ferguson believes will be "far, far better next season", which can only dismay United's rivals, as he looks pretty effective now. However much his game may improve, he could hardly have taken his goals with greater composure.

"He is a good finisher," Ferguson said. "His second and third goals were terrific, and he showed great intelligence for the first one, really well executed. He is getting his form back after the period he missed through injury in November, which set him back. He'll be a far, far better player next season."

Given the contribution of Wayne Rooney, in his first full 90 minutes since the away leg at Real Madrid in the Champions League, it was a deeply satisfying afternoon for the United manager. Rooney was the provider for Kagawa's second and third goals, before adding his own party piece in the final minute, dropping a shoulder to evade an attempted challenge before beating Mark Bunn with a dipping shot.

The absence of Giggs confirmed that Ferguson is no sentimentalist, denying the Welshman the opportunity to reach his milestone 22 years to the day since it all began, when he came off the bench in a 2-0 home defeat against Everton.

He might now chalk it off against Madrid on Tuesday and Ferguson promised that he "owed it to the lad" to make sure he is involved. Some would consider a European Cup tie of such moment to be a more fitting occasion in any event.

There was no place either for Rio Ferdinand, the Scot's other cherished veteran. Yet it was a strong United line-up, surprisingly so given the circumstances, with a cushion at the top and the Madrid clash so close. Both Rooney and Robin van Persie started, despite the latter's recent hip injury, with Michael Carrick alongside Anderson in central midfield, and Nemanja Vidic partnering Jonny Evans in central defence.

It seemed to be a clear statement to Manchester City and the rest that there would be no throttling back, no taking anything for granted, that the screw might as well be turned, rather than Roberto Mancini be allowed to further indulge his fanciful conviction that the gap a the top can be closed. Yet somehow United struggled at first to put together the emphatic performance the statement needed and it took until first-half added time for them to take the lead.

Norwich had kept their shape, kept their attacking instincts in check, and while United created some attractive approach play, all too often it lacked a precise final ball. Norwich were well aware they were the last team to have beaten United in the league and had arrived on the back of a morale-boosting victory over Everton last week, their first in 10 Premier League matches. They were also looking like a tough nut for United to crack.

If they had survived until half-time, perhaps they could have turned a screw themselves, in terms of frustrating the hosts. But then Van Persie won a challenge with Sébastien Bassong for Antonio Valencia's cross from the right, the ball spun to Kagawa, who was slightly off balance but righted himself enough to stab past Bunn.

Norwich did not look out of it until the closing stages. A decisive intervention by Vidic thwarted Robert Snodgrass at the near post. Then, after Grant Holt had headed down an Anthony Pilkington cross, Russell Martin somehow hooked the ball over the bar from close range, his embarrassment spared when Holt was penalised for a foul.

The floodgates opened only after Kagawa had scored his second after 77 minutes, a beautifully crafted goal set up by Rooney from a long pass by Carrick and slotted home with icy coolness.

Norwich were then ripe to be picked off and, in another break through the middle by United, Kagawa fed Danny Welbeck, who had a replaced Van Persie in a precautionary change as the Dutchman felt his hip again, and kept running, the ball coming back to him via Rooney. His finish again was exemplary. Norwich were gone by the time Rooney made his mark but it was a brilliant finish nonetheless.

With that, Ferguson turned his mind to Madrid.

News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence