Manchester United vs. Norwich: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Shinji Kagawa proved to be the man of the match for Alex Ferguson's side, scoring three of United's four goals for a hat-trick. The first came during extra time in the first half, when he knocked one home from the center of the box after an assist from Robin van Persie.
Kagawa's next two strikes opened the floodgates for United. His second score came on an absolutely brilliant downfield pass by Wayne Rooney in the 76th minute and his third on another dime from Rooney in the 87th.
The English star was not just assisting on Saturday, though. He capped off a brilliant match with a goal in the 90th minute to finalize the score.
As the score indicates, Manchester United were the dominant side for the entire contest. They dominated time of possession with 65 percent, took a whopping seven corner kicks and put relentless pressure on a scrambling Norwich side.
However, the match was filled with missed opportunities for the Red Devils—particularly in the first half.
Coming out in an extremely aggressive style, Ferguson's side was inside Norwich's box consistently in the first half. They took a whopping 11 shots, six of which came deep inside the scoring zone. That was compared to a shutout for Norwich, who scrambled just to keep up with the pace of their more talented counterparts.
To their credit, Norwich did a fantastic job for the most part. They withstood droves of pressure from the Manchester United attack, holding the match firm at a scoreless tie for the first 45 minutes.
However, extra time came back to bite them and Kagawa knocked home the winner.
United did far more with their scoring opportunities in the second half. Though Norwich were able to make some headway in their attack at times, even getting a shot in the 60th minute from Jonathan Howson, the Red Devils could just not be stopped.
Once Kagawa's goal went through in the 76th minute, the match was over. Norwich were just overmatched by the sheer attacking power and talent of Manchester United's side.
The folks at Old Trafford have to be happy with this performance, as it stretches United's lead to 15 points in the Premier League table.
Kagawa was so great on Saturday that he made some pretty big history. According to EPL Stuff's Twitter feed, Kagawa became the first Japanese player to score two or more goals in a Premier League match:
Shinji Kagawa is the 1st Japanese player to score 2 or more goals in a PL match.— Premier League (@EPLStuff) March 2, 2013
Meanwhile, Michael Carrick did not show up on the stat sheet, but he did have a fine game. Leave it to EPL Stat Man's feed to come up with this jaw-dropping number:
Michael Carrick made 119 passes against Norwich - 94% were accurate and 66% went forwards #MUFC— EPL Stat Man (@EPLStatman) March 2, 2013
Despite the victory, there was some disappointment at Old Trafford on Saturday. Ryan Giggs, whose next appearance will be his 1,000th with Manchester United, did not play on Saturday (per Sky Sports):
No 1,000th appearance for Ryan Giggs today – he is not in the Man United squad for the game against Norwich at Old Trafford. #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) March 2, 2013
FOX Soccer's Twitter feed is so over this match. It's already working on getting fans excited for a pretty big Champions League encounter on Tuesday:
Today's results setup a tasty encounter for Tuesday! Manchester United win 4-0, Real Madrid win 2-1 against Barcelona. #UCLonFOX— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 2, 2013
Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United: A
Kagawa has been intermittently absent this season, but he continued habitual excellence when in the lineup. The 23-year-old midfielder is up to five goals in just 11 Premier League starts this season and his three on Saturday made some aforementioned history.
Kagawa was not just effective in scoring goals, either. He assisted on two other scoring opportunities during the first half and helped apply pressure deep into Norwich's defense.
Mark Bunn, Norwich: C
It's not too often that a goalkeeper on the losing team is worth noting, but Bunn was integral in keeping this match from getting out of hand until late. He made three saves and faced relentless pressure from the Red Devils' attack, yet was still able to play his position well.
Bunn certainly owes some credit to his defense. They came up with some key blocks in the first half and prevented a complete barrage of shots from heading his way.
Even though he gave up four goals, it could have been a lot worse for Bunn on Saturday.
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United: A
Goals, assists and more, Rooney did it all for his side on Saturday. It's not exactly what you would call a shock, but his performance is worth nothing short of a top grade on Saturday.
Norwich Defense: C
Though they gave up four goals, Norwich's entire defense deserve some credit for not allowing the match to get out of hand until late. Manchester United's aggression was high throughout the contest and they were at least able to stagnate the goalscoring in the first half.
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