City end the season in disappointing style, despite Rodwell's brace
FA Premier League
Sunday 19 May 2013, 16.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta (c), Richards, Lescott, Kolarov, Y Toure, Rodwell (Silva 65), Nasri, Milner, Dzeko, Tevez (Aguero 51)
Unused: Pantilimon, Clichy, Maicon, Barry, Garcia
Goals: Rodwell (29, 59)
Referee: Mark Halsey
Man of the Match: Jack Rodwell
It was a frantic start to the match, as both sides looked to get ahead to give their fans something to enjoy on the final day of the season. It was the first where the result didn’t matter for City since 2010 and it felt like the players knew it as Norwich took control of the game in the early stages. Holt shot wide, leaving Hart sprawling towards his post, and Zabaleta could have given away a penalty for a challenge on Pilkington.
Dzeko came close with a flicked header from a Nasri cross from the left, but he couldn’t get enough power into the effort and it turned out to be a simple catch for Ruddy. While, in the City box, it was Lescott who the blues had to thank for the scores remaining level, as he headed off the line from a shot that had Joe Hart beaten. But it didn’t matter shortly after as, when the ball broke kindly in the City box, Pilkington curled a shot into the bottom corner, around Hart’s dive.
It took just three minutes for City to get level. A ball into the box was cutely touched down for Rodwell by Dzeko and he fired it arrowlike into the back of the net, as Ruddy hurled himself towards it. He got nowhere near it and it was the midfielder’s first goal in a City shirt.
Immediately, the visitors looked to hit back and get their noses in front once more. Snodgrass tried a shot at Hart’s top corner, but he was equal to the effort and made the save. Meanwhile, Tevez weaved his way into the Norwich box but missed the target, before Nasri was close to connecting to a Yaya Toure chipped cross into the area with a bicycle kick. Dzeko then bounced a header over the bar, after he couldn’t control the pace on Milner’s cross and had sent the ball wide.
On 57 minutes, City’s defending left something to be desired as the hosts made a meal of dealing with a high ball into the box. Toure missed a header and, after the ball bounced around inside the area with the home side unable to get it clear, it broke across the face of goal for Holt to smash it into the net, after Snodgrass had got his foot to send it the striker’s direction.
Again, though, City responded almost immediately. Yaya Toure broke out of the back line with the ball and unleashed a brilliant pass to the left for Rodwell to sprint on to. He got there ahead of the defender and powered into the box. Looking up, he saw Aguero in the area and decided to use him as a decoy, before smashing the shot into the far bottom corner for the equaliser.
Parity lasted just nine minutes, though, as a goalscoring second half continued at break-neck speed. Some schoolboy defending from City allowed Howson to pick up the ball mid-way into the home side’s half and carry it through the back four and straight in for a one-on-one. Hart came out, but Howson did well to slide the shot past him and find the net for the visitors once again.
Tettey could have made it four for the visitors, as he broke through on goal from the right. Hart was off his line quickly and the Norwich man tried to curl it around him with the outside of his foot, but it dropped wide of the post. At the other end, Aguero was close to connecting to a Milner cross, but it was intercepted before it could reach the striker.
As the game slowed to an end, City looked increasingly less likely to grab the equaliser and the season finished with something of a damp squib of a result.