City made it 14 wins from 15 Premier League matches with a 4-0 victory over a well-organised Norwich side at Carrow Road.
A hat-trick from Raheem Sterling and another from Phil Foden sealed the win and extended our lead at the top of the Premier League to 12 points.
There was a notable milestone for Pep Guardiola, who celebrated the 550th win of his management career – the perfect boost ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League last-16 game against Sporting.
City started brightly. Inside the first five minutes Phil Foden had the ball in the net but the goal was ruled out for offside, and Bernardo Silva’s curling effort hit the post and came back into the grasp of Norwich’ keeper Angus Gunn.
It looked like City would dominate, but Norwich, much-improved under Dean Smith, were diligent and well-organized throughout the first half and made life difficult for us.
They almost took the lead when Grant Hanley’s header hit the post with Ederson beaten. Fernandinho was the quickest to react, hacking the ball clear before Teemu Pukki could score from the rebound.
It was a warning shot for City and it sparked a period of dominance. Gunn saved superbly with his feet to deny Raheem Sterling from 12 yards out – but the England forward made amends moments later when he curled a quite brilliant trademark effort into the far corner to give City lead after half an hour.
City’s lead was doubled almost immediately after the restart when Foden bundled home after his first attempt as saved by Gunn, and Nathan Ake almost added a third but his effort from Ilkay Gundogan’s in-swinging corner went over the bar from point-blank range.
Sterling got his second with a close-range header after Ruben Dias had risen highest at the back post to nod the ball into his path. That goal ended the game as a contest and City looked comfortable thereafter.
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Academy graduates James McAtee and Liam Delap were both brought off the bench during the closing stages, adding vital top-flight experience to their impressive development, and Kayky made his Premier League debut late on, too.
And it was Delap who won the penalty from which City scored a fourth when he was adjudged to have been barged over by Hanley inside the box. Sterling’s penalty was saved by Gunn but he followed up to score from the rebound to complete his hat-trick.
A fine performance and another vital three points.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 12, 2022
Man of the match: Raheem Sterling
Three goals and the chief tormentor of the Norwich backline, this was an outstanding display from Sterling.
A special mention, too, for Fernandinho. The Brazilian may have lost a yard of pace, but he remains one of the most experienced players in the Premier League – a shrewd operator whose ability to pop up in the right place at the right time remains a vital asset.
Five changes to City’s starting lineup – and three youngsters entering the game during the final phase – and yet no discernible drop in quality or change in rhythm.
Pep Guardiola has constructed a squad with quality everywhere. This is a young, vibrant side, supplemented with some experienced pros, all of whom possess outstanding ability and excellent football intelligence.
With City still in the hunt for three major trophies, we will need to call upon everyone during the final months of the season – but everyone deserves their place in this squad.
It’s healthy competition and Guardiola will continue making use of all his options.
Raheem Sterling has been involved in 10 goals in his last eight Premier League games against Norwich (eight goals, two assists).
1⃣2⃣ – Sergio Aguero
5⃣ – RAHEEM STERLING
4⃣ – Carlos Tevez pic.twitter.com/fnX2LDGpVW
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) February 12, 2022
“In general this was a good performance. We arrived here at the best moment for Norwich in terms of their results and confidence.
“We play all these years seriously and today they proved it again.
“When Aleks doesn’t play because Joao is in top form, they accept it.
“They don’t have to convince me or their teammates of their quality, they have to perform well.
“We have a lot of competitions and everyone must be involved. We played three days before and will play again in three days – we need fresh legs.
“These guys proved they can play in any game.”
“It’s football, you’re going to get chances. You have to keep going and getting in the right areas, keep shooting and the goals will come.
“Consistency and the mindset to keep wanting to do better and win [is key]. Not to rest on our laurels and that’s the only way we will get better.
“To be a top team it’s every three days. That’s the challenge for us to win every three days.”
Starting XI: Gunn, Aarons (Byram 63′), Hanley, Gibson, Williams, Gilmour, Lees-Melou, McLean, Sargent (Dowell 87′), Rashica, Pukki
Subs: McGovern, Byram, Zimmermann, Giannoulis, Normann, Placheta, Dowell, Tzolis, Rowe
Starting XI: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Bernardo (McAtee 75′), Mahrez (Kayky 84′), Sterling, Foden (Delap 82′)
Subs: Carson, Stones, Laporte, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Cancelo, Kayky, Delap, McAtee
What it means
City have re-established a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
However, second-placed Liverpool have two games in hand, the first of which sees them travel to Burnley tomorrow. That game kicks off at 14:00.
It’s looking increasingly likely City and Liverpool will yet again be involved in a titanic battle to be crowned Premier League champions.
The two have been England’s preeminent sides over the last five seasons, raising the bar in terms of what’s required to be champions.
The two sides drew 2-2 at Anfield earlier and the season, with the return fixture at the Etihad scheduled for the weekend of April 9/10.
Strap in. It could be a tense few months.
The UEFA Champions League returns next week, with City traveling to Portugal for the first leg of our last-16 tie with Sporting on Tuesday.
It’s Europe’s elite knock-out tournament and it’s now reaching its climax, with only the finest 16 teams on the continent remaining.
That game gets under way at 20:00 (UK), with the return leg in Manchester on Wednesday 9 March.
And then next weekend it’s back to Premier League action, as Tottenham visit the Etihad.
That’s a 17:30 (UK) kick-off on Saturday 19 February.
News about Norwich v Man City Extended Highlights: Norwich 0-4 City City defeated Norwich 4-0 at Carrow Road – our 14th win from our last 15 Premier League matches – to move 12 points clear at the top of the table. Watch more. Guardiola sounds salute to ‘incredible’ Fernandinho Pep Guardiola heaped praise on ‘incredible’ evergreen midfield star Fernandinho after another outstanding display from the skipper in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Norwich. Watch more. Short Highlights: Norwich 0-4 City City defeated Norwich 4-0 at Carrow Road – our 14th win from our last 15 Premier League matches – to move 12 points clear at the top of the table. Watch more. Full-match replay: Norwich v City Enjoy the full 90 minutes of City’s Premier League clash with Norwich at Carrow Road. Watch more. Guardiola provides Sterling assessment and Grealish update Pep Guardiola heaped praise on ‘fantastic’ Raheem Sterling after he netted a hat-trick in Manchester City’s convincing victory at Norwich City. Read more.
Extended Highlights: Norwich 0-4 City
City defeated Norwich 4-0 at Carrow Road – our 14th win from our last 15 Premier League matches – to move 12 points clear at the top of the table. Watch more.
Guardiola sounds salute to ‘incredible’ Fernandinho
Pep Guardiola heaped praise on ‘incredible’ evergreen midfield star Fernandinho after another outstanding display from the skipper in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Norwich. Watch more.
Short Highlights: Norwich 0-4 City
Full-match replay: Norwich v City
Enjoy the full 90 minutes of City’s Premier League clash with Norwich at Carrow Road. Watch more.
Guardiola provides Sterling assessment and Grealish update
Pep Guardiola heaped praise on ‘fantastic’ Raheem Sterling after he netted a hat-trick in Manchester City’s convincing victory at Norwich City. Read more.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.