Norwich City 0-1 Manchester United: Red Devils keep top four hopes alive as Canaries crumble

7 May

Manchester United’s hopes of finishing in the top four were given another boost as they beat Norwich City 1-0 at Carrow Road.

Juan Mata was the hero as he struck with 72 minutes on the clock and has put the Red Devils just one point behind fourth-placed rivals Man City, who play Arsenal on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Canaries will be bemoaning a toothless performance against a Man United side who were lacking in quality, which leaves them just two more games to get themselves out of the relegation zone.

Hit by an injury to Anthony Martial in the warm up, Louis van Gaal was forced to start Ander Herrera instead and his charges, still adjusting, had to scramble clear twice in a row just minutes into the match.

Nathan Redmond and then Cameron Jerome were both unable to score, with the latter’s header particularly poor, highlighting the Canaries’ woeful fortunes in front of goal this season.

Man United nearly got themselves ahead in the eighth minute but Juan Mata was unable to control Wayne Rooney’s pass properly and collided with an opponent.

A new injury worry developed for the Red Devils moments later as Matteo Darmian fouled Ivo Pinto but was caught on his left leg, leaving him writhing on the turf.

Eventually Cameron Borthwick-Jackson took to the field to replace the Italy international, who will now be worried about his chances of making Antonio Conte’s Euro 2016 squad.

With plenty on the line for both sides, there was tension in the East Anglian air, and this affected the quality of match with the two outfits looking disjointed on the ball and prone to fouls when off it.

Memphis Depay, given a rare chance to start, failed to liven things up and curled a decently positioned free-kick straight into the wall, much to his own annoyance.

The second half barely saw things improve as both sides looked to be winding down the campaign rather than battling for safety and a place in the top four.

But just when it looked like the two sides were settling in, Wayne Rooney made the most of a Sebastien Bassong mistake and smartly set up Mata, who fired past John Ruddy with ease.

The Norwich supporters looked disconsolate as their team failed to rally against the Red Devils, who suddenly looked relaxed and able to pass the ball around with ease.

It nearly got worse in added time as Depay’s whipped free-kick had Ruddy scrambling but, thankfully for the goalkeeper, it went a whisker wide of his post.

The Canaries now sit two points adrift of safety with two games to play against Watford and Everton, while Manchester United must play West Ham and Bournemouth.


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