English Premier League
Saturday 3 December 2011, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Kompany (c), K Toure, Clichy, Y Toure, Barry, Silva, Aguero (Balotelli 82), Nasri (A Johnson 70), Dzeko (de Jong 82)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Savic, Milner
Goals: Aguero (32), Nasri (52), Y Toure (68), Balotelli (88), A Johnson (90+1)
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the Match: Yaya Toure
City started the game the brighter of the two teams and, if truth be told, there was only ever one way this game was going to finish once the hosts had the initiative. Dzeko fired a shot wide from just outside the box as he looked to find his shooting boots, before Kolo Toure was caught in possession and almost handed a chance to Morison, but his volley was well off target.
Hart had to be alert to be off his line to put pressure on Morison after a mix-up between Kolo Toure and Kompany left the striker through on goal. But the City keeper forced the Norwich forward wide and his effort was well off target. Aguero should have put the home side in front after 17 minutes when the ball was cut back towards the penalty spot, but his volley from four yards was over the bar.
Soon enough, though, the Argentine found himself on the scoresheet. Richards broke into the area down the right flank and cut the ball back to Aguero on the edge of the six-yard box. He looked to be crowded out as he tried to turn, but, from nowhere, he found the gap between three defenders and goalkeeper and prodded the ball into the bottom corner.
Within seconds, he should have had his second goal of the day, as a cut back fell to him at the back post. With the goalkeeper scrambling to get back, it seemed a simple finish for Aguero, but he – somehow – blazed the ball over the bar. As much as City had dominated the half, they went in with just one goal to their name.
But the second half saw the hosts quickly double their lead, with a stroke of good fortune. Nasri curled a free kick into the box, looking for the head of either Dzeko or Yaya Toure. None of the City attackers touched the ball and the defence missed it too, leaving Ruddy to fumble the ball into the back of the net. He might have been unsighted, but he’ll be very disappointed with the goal – not that Nasri will care!
Aguero and Barry both went close shortly after, as the home side tried to make their pressure pay and, with 68 minutes on the clock, Yaya Toure grabbed himself his fourth goal in his last six games. He picked the ball up from Silva on the edge of the box and, after getting the ball onto his right foot, he curled the ball into the bottom corner, leaving Ruddy with no chance.
With ten minutes to play, though, the visitors gave themselves a glimmer of hope: The City defence switched off at a short corner and it was swung in to Morison at the back post. There, he got up to head the ball into the bottom corner of the goal, as the home side began the inquest as to how they had conceded another soft goal when leading.
But City restored their three goal advantage with two minutes to play: Yaya Toure and Adam Johnson combined well, the latter doing well to keep the ball inside the area under pressure. He slotted the ball for Balotelli to shoot and, while Ruddy saved his initial shot, there was nothing the keeper could do to stop the Italian audaciously shouldering the ball into the empty net from half a yard out.
And, in stoppage time, City made it five. A corner was half-cleared by the Norwich defence and good pressure from de Jong and Kompany left the Belgian with the ball on the edge of the box. He looked up and found Johnson free on the right flank. The substitute jinked to his left and just passed the ball into the bottom corner, making it look easy.
That’s now 12 home wins on the run for City, who, with United playing later in the day, took the opportunity to go eight points ahead of their rivals and seven points ahead of Tottenham, who had, for the time being, moved into second place.