Man Utd vs Norwich Match Report (Kagawa kicks into life to sink silent Canaries)By: Ian | March 3rd, 2013
I think we can all agree that Shinji Kagawa has not had the easiest start to his Utd career. A subdued start, just two goals, then a tough-to-take persistent injury. Certainly not the dangerous midfield man that was scoring goals for fun over in Dortmund. Well yesterday afternoon, out of nowhere, the man from Japan found whatever was missing and hit the ground running from the whistle. On an afternoon, where Sir (only a matter of time, surely) Ryan Giggs was made to wait for his 1000th appearance, Shinji took a record of his own: the first Asian player to hit a hattrick in the Premier League. Not a bad stat. Here’s what happened:
Man City’s game against Villa wasn’t until Monday, so the Reds took to the field once again with the opportunity to go 15 clear once again. The challenge of doing so was entrusted to the hands of De Gea and the feet of Smalling, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Kagawa, Rooney and Van Persie (fit again after his camera stumble). I was a bit surprised at the strength of the side, with Madrid looming large like a large looming thing midweek.
The start of the game could perhaps best be described as spluttering, like a 1970’s product of British Leyland. It took quarter of an hour for something meaningful to arrive. It came in the shape of Van Persie trying to feed in Van Persie, but keeper Bunn smothered before any danger presented itself. We fast forward then to Mr. Carrick, who displayed how well he can shoot once against Roma, but doesn’t seem to like to do it too often (less British Leyland – more Alfa Romeo). His attempt stuck to the turf and then in the hands of the keeper. Rooney was arguably the most lively of the red bunch, seeing blocks from Turner and Martin thwart his efforts.
Let’s mention Norwich, for balance, you understand…..there, done that.
Van Persie hit a shot wayward, as in upper tier, seat at the end wayward, from a promising left foot position before the breakthrough came just before half time. Antonio Valencia, slightly better than he’s been of late, was given the ball by Smalling, and kept his cross low. A slight flick from Van Persie saw Kagawa receive the ball and the man from Japan (like that phrase) took the shot sweetly on the outside of his foot. Into the net it nestled for 1-0 and a much better end to the half than the start.
Norwich brightened up after the break, clearly having downed some Lucozade. Pilkington, the scorer in the away meeting with Norwich, Utd’s last league defeat I believe, attempted to let Snodgrass in, but to no avail. Howson pumped a shot that went out off Carrick as at the other end, Bunn was out to smother again after Kagawa tried to let Rooney through. Thus followed the only real moment of uncertainty as Martin mis-kicked and missed from close range, with the attack being stopped by a foul from Holt anyway. With three-quarters of the game nearly elapsed, the score was hardly emphatic, prompting substitutions: Anderson for Cleverley and Welbeck for Van Persie.
However, Shinji Kagawa wasn’t panicking and showed that all too clearly with his next attempt to double Utd’s lead. Bassong pressurised Rooney, but couldn’t prevent the pass towards the Japanese. Kagawa collected and slotted home with the confidence of a man who was a much more frequent scorer. This goal actually doubled Kagawa’s Utd career goal haul.
It was still really Rooney who was pulling the strings and he continued to do so as Norwich tired. First, Welbeck was given a chance to test Bunn, before he and Rooney interchanged to set up Kagawa for a third try on goal. Through he ran, and lifted it cool-as-you-like up and over a helpless Bunn. Hattrick and completely deserved.
Kagawa may have provided the cake, but Rooney added the cherry on top as the clock ticked onto the ninety. He strolled towards the goal, escaped the half-hearted challenge, looked up, picked his spot, and found it gloriously with a dipping drive from distance. 4-0 the end score.
4-0 was maybe a bit harsh on Norwich. They didn’t show much verve going forward, but they defended consistently, if not spectacularly. Indeed, the killing-off of the game didn’t occur until rather late on. But it was nevertheless done, with Kagawa obviously the stand-out with his sudden burst into action. A fragmented start to his Red Career, but a regular run of games, a decent pre-season, and I expect him to be strong going into the next campaign. Rooney also deserves a mention for orchestrating most moves, and naturally, I just ask him to continue such a display over into the next game against Madrid. Van Persie seems a bit off the boil, even taking his camera fall out of the equation. Let’s hope he fires in midweek too. We’ll need all hands to the pumps, but it’s certainly doable, and this game gave Utd a solid runout prior to the big Champions League tie. Here’s hoping to a favourable result!
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