It was a dream debut for Ryan Giggs, who on Saturday took up an unfamiliar position in the Old Trafford dugout. The interim manager, sharply dressed in a snazzy suit, flashed plenty of smiles as Manchester United beat relegation-threatened Norwich City 4-0, with a brace apiece from Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata.
United got off to a pacy start, attacking the Norwich goal and letting fly with shots from distance. Wayne Rooney’s 25 yard strike forced a block from Steven Whittaker, while crosses from Antonio Valencia kept the Canaries defense on its toes.
But it was the visitors who had the ball in the back of the net first, with their traveling fans celebrating a goal from Jonny Howson. Unfortunately for those supporters, the whistle had already been blown for Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s foul on Phil Jones.
John Ruddy did well to keep the hosts out for much of the match. He made a great save to deny Danny Welbeck at the near post. Rooney then took advantage of Norwich’s defensive woes, but his strike was blocked by Michael Turner.
In the end it took a penalty to get Manchester United on the scoreboard. Whittaker brought down Welbeck inside the area, and although replays showed there was minimal contact, Lee Probert pointed to the spot (although he elected not to show the defender a card). It was Rooney that stepped to the spot, putting his shot low and to the right for the first goal of the Giggs Era.
United, perhaps wary of Norwich’s desperation, set off attacking right from the restart. It didn’t take long for Rooney to double his side’s lead. While Ruddy shouted for the Canaries’ defense to close down Shinji Kagawa, the wideman had no trouble slipping the ball to Rooney. He then easily evaded the Norwich defenders and, as he slipped to the ground, fired off a shot that evaded Ruddy to nestle into the back of the net.
The hosts then missed out on two great opportunities to cement their lead. Ruddy did extremely well to keep out Welbeck, who struck wonderfully on the half volley. From the resulting corner, Nemanja Vidić put his header well over the bar.
Those chances ultimately mattered little, however. Just three minutes after replacing Welbeck, Juan Mata got himself on the scoreboard with United’s third goal. Ruddy managed to block a shot from Rooney, but the ball fell back into the crowd of red shirts around the Norwich goal. Phil Jones put in the cross for Mata, completely unmarked, to tap in.
Just ten minutes later, Mata had a second. From the byline, Patrice Evra pulled back to volley to the opposite side of goal. Antonio Valencia got on the end of it, sidefooting the ball into the path of the onrushing Mata. The Spaniard nodded in to give Manchester United their fourth goal.
Norwich did what they could to find the goal, but with their lack of precision, they were unable to find even a consolation. With Fulham’s draw earlier in the day, the Canaries are still safe, but if either Sunderland or Cardiff win on Sunday, they’ll end the weekend in the relegation zone.
Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley (Hernandez 71), Kagawa (Young 65); Welbeck (Mata 60), Rooney
Goals: Rooney 41′; 49′; Mata 63′; 73′
Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Turner, Olsson; Johnson; Fer (Tettey 80), Howson; Snodgrass; Redmond (Redmond 69), van Wolfswinkel (Elmander 57)