Carlos Tevez scored a stunning hat-trick as Manchester City turned the heat up on league leaders Manchester United with a clinical hammering of Norwich at Carrow Road. Starting successive Barclays Premier League games for the first time in 11 months, Tevez blasted home a 20-yard swirling shot to open the scoring before he backheeled to Sergio Aguero, who made it 2-0 with a venomous volley.
Andrew Surman pulled one back just after the break to give the Canaries hope, but a Tevez second-half double, a late strike from Adam Johnson, and a majestic curler from Aguero gave City a hugely impressive victory to cut United's lead to two points.
Tevez, who infamously went AWOL in Argentina for six months after refusing to come off the bench against Bayern Munich, is now well and truly back to his best and could yet have a decisive say in this title race with his former employers.
The diminutive striker looked sharp all afternoon, dropping deep and working the channels all game to cause the Canaries all sorts of problems, and his finishing was quite superb.
Having pegged United back to a five-point lead in midweek, the Red Devils now only have a marginal lead ahead of their game against Aston Villa on Sunday, and the Manchester derby on April 30 looks an even more appetising prospect after Tevez's fine display.
The Argentine played a big part in City's 4-0 annihilation of West Brom in midweek and it was clear from the start here that the win had clearly raised confidence levels at the Etihad Stadium.
The warning signs of a drubbing were there from the kick-off.
David Silva chipped the Norwich defence looking for Samir Nasri but his touch let him down and John Ruddy came to the rescue.
Norwich hit back on the counter through Anthony Pilkington, who skipped past Pablo Zabaleta and embarrassed Nasri with a clever turn but he curled wide from 10 yards.
Play continued to fly from end to end and Tevez looked a big threat for the visitors.
Ruddy saved well from the Argentina striker before he then went down under a challenge from Ryan Bennett.
The defender clearly caught Tevez's standing leg but Chris Foy flashed a yellow card for diving instead of awarding a penalty.
City were furiously denied another penalty moments later when Pilkington tugged Aguero's shirt but Foy again gave no penalty.
Grant Holt met a looping ball in the box but Joleon Lescott cleared the striker's header under the bar.
After an entertaining spell it seemed inevitable an opener would come and it did in the 18th minute.
Elliott Ward's short pass allowed Silva to find Tevez via Aguero and the former Manchester United man unleashed a 25-yard swerving shot that beat Ruddy at his near post.
Nine minutes later it was 2-0. Tevez and Aguero exchanged passes twice on the break, the second of which was a clever backheel, and Aguero volleyed home from 20 yards.
Norwich went in at half-time firmly on the back foot and the home crowd feared a rout.
The last time City visited Carrow Road in 2005, Canaries owner Delia Smith took to the pitch at half-time to give her toe-curling "let's be havin' you" address to the Norwich faithful.
Thankfully she refrained from doing so today, and whatever Paul Lambert said instead inside the confines of the dressing room worked briefly as Norwich pulled one back through Surman.
The substitute collected the ball from Hart's punch before rifling a 20-yard screamer in to the net.
The goal boosted Norwich, but City held strong.
Tevez broke clear only to be hauled back by Ryan Bennett with a tackle that would not look out of place on a rugby league pitch. The defender rightly entered the referee's book.
Ruddy saved from Pablo Zabaleta with his legs as City looked to restore their two-goal cushion.
Norwich's resistance was broken again in the 73rd minute thanks to Tevez's second.
Ruddy blocked Yaya Toure's powerful drive, the ball flew up in the air, and Tevez beat his marker to nod home in to an empty net.
Less than 90 seconds later City were 4-1 up. This time it was Tevez's compatriot Aguero who struck, curling a wonderful 20-yard effort beyond the out-stretched Ruddy.
Tevez's remarkable afternoon was completed with 10 minutes to go when he beat the offside trip and rounded Ruddy before mimicking a golf-swing in his celebration in front of the travelling fans.
Whether the celebration was a dig at Mancini, who lambasted Tevez for spending his time playing golf while in exile earlier this season or not he was replaced seconds later for Richards.
Johnson, who had earlier come on for Silva, struck the bar in the final minute and Aguero did the same in injury time.
Aguero found Clichy at the back post in the 93rd minute, he squared to Johnson and he made no mistake from six yards to complete the pummelling.Saturday 29th December 2012 Sunderland V Tottenham Aston Villa V Wigan Fulham V Swansea Man Utd V West Brom Norwich V Man City Reading V West Ham Stoke V Southampton Arsenal V Newcastle Sunday 30th December 2012 Everton V Chelsea QPR V Liverpool Tuesday 1st January 2013 West Brom V Fulham Man City V Stoke Swansea V Aston Villa Tottenham V Reading West Ham V Norwich Wigan V Man Utd Southampton V Arsenal Wednesday 2nd January 2013 Chelsea V QPR Liverpool V Sunderland Newcastle V Everton CARROW ROAD - NORWICH CITY
How To Get There By Car & Where To Park
The ground is well signposted from the A11 and A47. From the southern bypass (A47) take the A146 into the city. At the traffic lights turn right towards the city centre on the A1054. At the next roundabout stay in the left hand lane and continue towards the city centre along the A147. At the next set of traffic lights, turn right into King Street. This street as it bends around to the right and crosses the river becomes Carrow Road, the ground is further down on the right. David Clarke informs me that 'The best car park for away fans is Norfolk County Hall, which is well sign posted on the left of the A146, as you follow signs towards the ground from the Southern Bypass. It is currently £6 and can hold about 2000 cars, and does usually fill up by 2pm for games where the away team bring loads of fans'. Martyn Swan adds; 'It's advisable to get to the car park before 1pm if you want a decent spot, otherwise you may get stuck in spaces at the back, and it can then take ages at the end of the game to exit'.
After the game has ended some roads are closed to allow the crowd to disperse quickly and safely. For details of precisely which roads are closed, visit the Norwich City Council website.
The ground is walkable from Norwich train station. If you ignore all those wonderful pubs it should take you no more than 10 minutes to walk to the ground. From the station turn left and head for the Morrisons supermarket and you should see the ground behind that.
Where To Drink?
The main pub for away fans is the 'Compleat Angler', which is located opposite the railway station. It is situated on a river bank and has a nice outside terrace outside overlooking the river. The pub itself is a bit basic but offers food and is away fan friendly. It is a about a ten minute walk away from Carrow Road. Otherwise Norwich has a number of pubs located in its centre, in fact on one visit I found a number of good pubs situated in-between the train station and the ground, that were friendly. In fact I almost ended up being a pub crawl before the match had begun!
Rob Emery informs me; 'Not far away from the ground and towards the City Centre a new leisure complex called the Riverside has opened. This has a number of drinking and eating establishments, including a Wetherspoons Lloyds No.1 outlet. Whilst Nicholas Mead suggests; 'the Coach and Horses on Thorpe Road brews its own beer and is around a 10 minute walk away from the ground'.
Source: Manchester City MAD