Worthington works a miracle

Norwich City 2 Manchester United 0
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The Independent Football

If adrenaline were a banned drug, Norwich City's fans would have tested positive en masse on Saturday. In the aftermath of their unlikely victory, they poured into the streets surrounding Carrow Road in a daze of joy.

If adrenaline were a banned drug, Norwich City's fans would have tested positive en masse on Saturday. In the aftermath of their unlikely victory, they poured into the streets surrounding Carrow Road in a daze of joy.

Many held their hands to their heads, repeating words like "fantastic!" or simply "yes!" to anyone who would listen. One man in green and yellow was on his mobile: "No... no I'm not joking...". Another was making his way on crutches. Such was the mood of euphoria, you wondered why he had not cast them aside.

If beating Manchester United, who had £51.2m worth of strikers starting the match on the bench, felt like a miracle to the inhabitants of what the visiting fans had derisively described as a "small town in Ipswich", it also raised the prospect of an even more wondrous turn of events - Premiership salvation.

Should Norwich reproduce this startling performance in their away match with fellow strugglers Crystal Palace on Saturday, who would deny that faint possibility?

Certainly not the Norwich manager, Nigel Worthington. Asked if he thought his side could stay up, he responded with barely a blink: "Yes. There are loads of points to go for and plenty of games left. We'll keep fighting." But Worthington admitted he had used the local press in midweek to demand more of the fighting spirit from his men following their 4-1 defeat at Arsenal. "I thought we showed Arsenal a little bit too much respect," he said. "We needed to put our foot in a bit more."

The way Worthington's men responded was a crucial factor in their victory. Having conceded 14 goals in a run of five defeats, Norwich were suddenly a different proposition, with Youssef Safri, in the starting line-up for the first time this year, distinguishing himself.

It was Safri's challenge on the pugnacious Wayne Rooney - who vainly claimed a foul - that sent Darren Huckerby clear for the run which ended with Leon McKenzie volleying the second goal from Dean Ashton's cross.

Rooney had earlier been booked for the foul which led to Ashton putting Norwich in the lead from David Bentley's pinpoint free-kick.

An evening on which United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson emerged frequently from his dug-out like an enraged weatherman ended with Rio Ferdinand's chance of playing in the forthcoming FA Cup semi-final in doubt because of a leg injury.

But what did Norwich care after a result that will be remembered down the years: "Small town in Ipswich 2, Major conurbation once in Lancashire 0."

Goals: Ashton (55) 1-0; McKenzie (66) 2-0.

Norwich City (4-4-2): Green; Helveg, Fleming, Shackell, Drury; Stuart (Bentley, h-t), Safri, Francis, Huckerby (Jonson, 66); McKenzie, Ashton (Svensson, 83). Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), Doherty.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Howard; G Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Heinze; Kleberson (Van Nistelrooy, 62), P Neville, Scholes, Fortune (Rooney, h-t); Smith, Saha (Ronaldo, 22). Substitutes not used: Carroll (gk), O'Shea.

Referee: H Webb (South Yorkshire).

Booked: Norwich City Bentley, McKenzie. Manchester Utd Rooney.

Man of the match: Shackell.

Attendance: 25,522.

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