Tevez treble puts City hot on United's heels

Norwich City 1 Manchester City 6: Rebellious Argentinian shows Mancini what he has been missing by scoring a brilliant hat-trick to inspire a rout of Norwich that re-ignites the challenge to Manchester rivals

carrow road

Carlos Tevez, the rebel with a cause who threatened to derail Manchester City' Premier League title challenge, propelled them right back into the mix yesterday. Tevez and Sergio Aguero, his Argentinian compatriot, proved irresistible as City survived a second-half scare at Carrow Road yesterday to steamroller a gallant Norwich City.

City now lie only two points behind Manchester United, who have a game in hand and play Aston Villa at Old Trafford today. But from the apparent one-horse race of a week ago, when United led by eight points, the all-Mancunian duel at the top has received fresh impetus.

From zero to hero, Tevez is making the transition with ease. In only his second start since returning to City, after going Awol for six months, he scored a hat-trick – taking his tally to four goals in his past two games – and supplied one assist for Aguero. Had Tevez not gone walkabout, perhaps City could have been crowned champions already?

Paul Lambert, the Norwich manager, could only gaze in wonder as the Tevez-Aguero combination, with a goal apiece, gave City a 2-0 half-time lead. "They were absolute rockets, fabulous strikes," Lambert said. "For 70 minutes we were right in it but City were too good for us in the last 20."

It was when the clubs last met here, in February 2005, that Delia Smith, the Norwich director, launched her infamously tired-and-emotional rant. "Where are you? Let's be 'avin you! Come on!" she urged the home fans. It did not have the desired effect, with Norwich losing 3-2.

Lambert may well have given a similarly impassioned pre-match speech in the dressing-room, with his players tearing into City as if they faced relegation rather than mid-table respectability. Such was their early tenacity, fresh from the stunning 2-1 Easter win at Tottenham Hotspur, that City struggled to cope.

No greater was the home vigour illustrated than when Anthony Pilkington burst past Pablo Zabaleta and Samir Nasri only to shoot wide. Grant Holt was a tad unlucky, too, when he nodded over Joe Hart, the City and England goalkeeper, but was denied by Joleon Lescott's headed clearance on the goalline.

City were sluggish but David Silva did test John Ruddy with a fierce drive, which the Norwich goalkeeper did well to turn aside, and Tevez showed the darker side of his complex character by collecting a booking for an exaggerated plunge in the area under a challenge from Ryan Bennett.

However, he quickly displayed more acceptable traits – ceaseless energy, deep foraging, clever passing and lethal finishing. Two Tevez-inspired goals in nine minutes soothed City's initially fevered brows, the contest appearing almost over before half-time as Norwich's vivid promise faded.

After Elliott Ward had lost possession, Silva and Aguero combined to set up Tevez to deliver the most wicked of 20-yard efforts, the ball swerving and dipping past a bewildered Ruddy. The returning Messiah– though perhaps not for every City fan – had also scored in the 4-0 defeat of West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Norwich's enterprise went in a flash, with City extending their lead when Aguero passed to Tevez – who returned it with a cute backheel – and then guided his attempt away from Ruddy. It was Aguero's 20th League goal of the season but the first outside of Manchester or London.

Another rallying cry from Lambert – or even Delia – was what Norwich needed and maybe they got it as they launched headlong into the second period. Reward came swiftly, with Adam Drury crossing from the left and Hart – please don't do this at Euro 2012, Joe – punching poorly to Andrew Surman, who thrashed it back in.

Anxious moments for Mancini but City regained their composure, three goals in seven minutes extinguishing the Norwich comeback. Ruddy failed to hold Yaya Touré's low shot, with Tevez nodding in on the follow-up, then Aguero cut inside Elliott Bennett to curl home another gem.

Tevez completed his hat trick, latching on to a woeful Ryan Bennett backpass before rounding Ruddy, and Adam Johnson thumped in City's sixth from close range in stoppage time after smart work by Aguero and Gaël Clichy. The potential Norwich fightback had become an ugly rout.

That Tevez had celebrated his treble by pretending to swing a golf club, a reference to what he spent of most of his time doing on the courses of Buenos Aires during his exile, earned applause from the away fans. "Carlos Tevez, He Wants To Go Home" they sang... and they might be right.

Norwich (4-4-2): Ruddy; R Martin, R Bennett, Ward, Drury; E Bennett, Johnson (Hoolahan, h-t), Howson, Pilkington (Surman, h-t); Holt, Wilbraham (Morison, 68).

Manchester City (4-2-2-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott,Clichy; De Jong, Barry; Silva (Johnson, 76), Nasri (Y Touré, 63); Aguero, Tevez (Richards, 81).

Referee Chris Foy.

Man of the match Tevez (Manchester City).

Match rating 8/10.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas