Norwich City overrun in FA Cup loss to Manchester City
Norwich City will not be the last team to suffer at the talented feet of Manchester City's Sergio Aguero as Manuel's Pellegrini's squad cruised to a 3-0 FA Cup third round win at Carrow Road.
Aguero produced a dazzling first half display which effectively sealed this contest, bursting past four Norwich players to slot past John Ruddy from close range and then slipping in strike partner Kelechi Iheanacho to roll home a second prior to the interval.
Kevin De Bruyne added a late third for Pellegrini's men, who simply had too much nous and craft even in a lineup missing the likes of Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Yaya Toure. Norwich City manager Alex Neil made it clear during the build-up that Norwich's upcoming Premier League trips to Stoke City and Bournemouth were far more of a priority and seven changes to his starting lineup underlined the point.
The Canaries started brightly, with Cameron Jerome looking in the mood to impress after losing his league place to Dieumerci Mbokani, but the hosts' faded dramatically after Aguero's devastating intervention. Jerome and Vadis Odjidja were the only two Norwich players to offer resistance, but this was as routine passage to the fourth round for the Citizens.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK John Ruddy, 6 -- Restored to the Norwich lineup for the first time since Nov. 29. Denied Aleksandar Kolarov and Iheanacho before Manchester City opened the scoring. May feel that he should have kept out De Bruyne's late third which squirmed through his legs.
DF Andre Wisdom, 6 -- Deployed in a wing-back role. Strong in one-on-one battles but over-run at times with the movement of Manchester City's attacking players.
DF Ryan Bennett, 5 -- Allowed Aguero to cut inside for Iheanacho's goal. Then was exposed by De Bruyne for the third.
DF Russell Martin, 6 -- Untidy at times in possession. Went to ground to make up Aguero's mind for the opener.
DF Seb Bassong, 6 -- Left trailing in midfield by Aguero in the build-up to his goal. Hauled off in the second half for the more important tests ahead.
DF Martin Olsson, 6 -- One of the bright spots. Offered an attacking threat and produced some probing crosses in the first half.
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MF Jonny Howson, 6 -- Whipped one gorgeous cross in for Vadis Odjidja in the first half. Slipped in Jerome to finish past Malaga goalkeeper Caballero but the striker was adjudge to be offside.
MF Graham Dorrans, 5 -- Poor in possession and one-paced. Did force Caballero into a rare save with a rising 20-yard strike.
MF Youssouf Mulumbu, 5 -- Failed his big audition after a rare start. Tried to break up Manchester City's smooth passing patterns in central midfield but too often out-numbered.
MF Vadis Odjidja, 7 -- Showed touches of genuine quality from start to finish. Injected energy and dynamism in Norwich's best moments, notably with a break to set-up Howson, who saw his shot smothered by Fernando. Lashed a half-volley wide in stoppage time.
FW Cameron Jerome, 7 -- Set the tone for a vibrant, energetic shift inside the opening two minutes with a penetrating burst. Had one goal ruled out for offside and troubled Manchester City's centre-backs.
MF Gary O'Neil, 5 -- On for Mulumbu in the 64th minute. Added some composure on the ball and a far better link from back to front than the likes of Dorrans or Mulumbu.
MF Nathan Redmond, 5 -- Replaced Howson in the 63rd minute. Looks to be struggling with his confidence in recent weeks. Gave the ball away on more than one occasion. Best moment when he beat Gael Clichy to pick out Jerome who headed over.
FW Kyle Lafferty, NR -- On for Bassong in the 72nd minute. Cheered by the home fans when introduced for a rare cameo. Did force Caballero to tip over a close range header from Redmond's deep corner.
Paddy is the chief Norwich City correspondent for media group Archant. He has covered the Canaries for more than 10 years. Twitter: @paddyjdavitt.