Saturday 2nd March 2013 kick-off 15.00pm (GMT)
By Adam Morton
A fantastic display from The Reds, that saw a superb hat-trick from Shinji Kagawa and an awesome strike from Wayne Rooney, secured an seemingly effortless 4-0 victory that once again extends their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League table to 15 points.
Despite the emphatic scoreline, the first half started slowly for United who, although comfortable in possession and in apparent control of the game, seemed to lack the necessary killer instinct that would have quelled what felt like a degree of growing tension inside Old Trafford.
Some intricate play between developed in the first half between Rooney and RVP and the deep lying Kagawa, however for all this intricacy and delightful one touch passing in and around the box, Bunn, in goal for Norwich, was rarely tested. However, as half time edged closer, The Reds visibly moved up through the gears.
It was in added time in the first half, that Valencia’s cross from the right was met by the head of Robin Van Persie. The header was somewhat mis-hit but fell kindly for Shiniji Kagawa, who from less than five yards out, slotted the ball into the net with a delightfully placed shot using the outside of his boot.
With the lead secured before the interval, the second half was now about grabbing that vital second goal. However, briefly at the start of the second half it was the visitors who looked promising. Despite having only one effort on target all afternoon, in this spell they asked questions of The Reds back line which managed to stand firm.
With the worst of the threat over and United once again looking in control, Welbeck was introduced as Van Persie headed for the bench in the 65th minute and just over eleven minutes later The Reds secured all three points.
A delightfully weighted pass from Michael Carrick set Rooney in a footrace against Bassong. Unselfishly after creating space inside the box for himself with a smart fake shot, Rooney smartly rolled the ball into the path of Kagawa, who clamly slotted home his and United’s second of the day.
After this goal, it was clear Norwich’s heads had dropped and United would march easily to victory. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, with Tuesday in mind, United kept pushing and in the eighty-seventh minute, Kagawa got his hat-trick.
Starting the move in midfield, the Japanese midfielder found Welbeck, who delivered the ball to Rooney, once again Rooney found Kagawa on the edge of the box. A delightful first touch saw the Japanese midfielder burst into the box only to dink the ball over the advancing goalkeeper to secure his hat-trick.
United where not even finished then, in the ninety-first minute, Rooney dropped the shoulder to create space and from twenty yards sent a strike with bend and dip into the top of the net. Incredibly it so easily could have been five just moments later if not for an excellent last ditch touch from Norwich’s, Michael Turner, to deny Danny Welbeck a simple tap in from a Valencia cross.
As the full time whistle blew, United equalled a top flight record by winning twenty-three of the first twenty-eight matches in a season and moved fifteen points ahead of Manchester City with only ten games to go.
RedArmy is Britain’s biggest Manchester United Magazine.
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