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    Norwich City 0-1 Manchester United: No way back for Norwich?


    By Chris Lincoln


    1. Norwich XI: Ruddy, Pinto, Martin, Bassong, Olsson; Redmond, Howson, O'Neil, Brady, Hoolahan, Jerome
    2. Man Utd XI: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Rojo, Darmian, Carrick, Rooney, Mata, Lingard, Memphis, Herrera

    Norwich City's Premier League survival hopes remain in tatters as a combination of Juan Mata continuing his excellent record against the Canaries and a shock victory for Sunderland against Chelsea left Alex Neil's men four points and two places from safety, with just two games remaining.

    It may well have been a different story on a hot and sunny day in East Anglia, as Cameron Jerome squandered a free header from eight yards in the opening five minutes, heading straight at United's player of the season David De Gea.


    Cameron Jerome misses Norwich's best opportunity

    The early let off for the visitors was followed with them taking control of the match without every really setting Carrow Road alight. United enjoyed plenty of possession, as they have done for much of this season, but lacked creativity in the final third as attacking lynchpin Wayne Rooney struggled to work his way into the game.

    Eventually Chris Smalling had a similar chance to Cameron Jerome, only to head over from Mata's corner as he leapt above Jerome himself. Jesse Lingard followed up that effort with a shot that was easy for John Ruddy to handle, in one of only two United shots on targets in the whole game.

    The second half barely improved, as Norwich could not find a way out of their half, whilst United proved just how none of their starting eleven had scored in the previous thirteen games. Marcos Rojo and Gary O'Neil exchanged weak efforts after the hour mark, before Wes Hoolahan could not control his header in the box as the game showed slight signs of lighting up.


    Juan Mata scores the only goal of the game

    The match was crying out for a moment of quality and it was no surprise that Mata was the man to provide it. Sebastian Bassong missed what should have been a straightforward header, as Rooney broke away and fed the Spaniard, before he buried his fifth Premier League goal against Norwich.

    The Canaries had nothing to offer in the closing stages of the game, as Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay both squandered chances for the visitors late on. Though it did not matter for United as they squeezed another victory after a lacklustre performance, whilst Norwich were made to pay for their lack of goalscoring ability, failing to score for the fourth consecutive game.

    Although the game was bereft of quality, it was certainly crucial to both sides. United are now just two points behind fourth place Manchester City with a game in hand, though West Ham and Bournemouth provide differing quality in their final games of the season. Norwich now require two wins to survive when they take on out of form Watford and Everton, though relegation rivals Sunderland have the same set of fixtures in reverse.


    Juan Mata celebrates his goal

    Man of the Match: Juan Mata
    Mata was inspirational as he cemented his position as the highest goalscorer in the Premier League against Norwich City. He was also one of the players who looked most likely to break the deadlock in a poor match.

    Photos by Getty Images
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    Item Reviewed: Norwich City 0-1 Manchester United: No way back for Norwich? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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