Resilience has become a byword for this City side and it was there for all to see in Norfolk.
For an amazing tenth time in succession after losing a Premier League match the Blues bounced back with a three point haul. Roberto Mancini’s side now hasn’t lost two on the trot in the main domestic competition since October 2010.
There were many waiting to write off the champions title defence after they marked the half-way point of the season with a less than appetising Boxing Day reverse to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
But the Blues keep showing the steely determination that vaulted them over United and into the crown last May and it was never more evident than in this crazy contest in which they went two up inside five minutes, had a man sent off, three times conceded a goal at set-pieces and still won the match.
Having drilled 11 goals past Norwich in last season’s two encounters, some Blues followers might have expected another stroll at Carrow Road but this is a more resolute Canaries side one that had already seen off the majority of opponents at their base – including United and Arsenal who both lost by the only goal of their respective games.
Mancini promised changes after the loss at Sunderland and they came in all outfield areas of the pitch. Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri returned to give the side French flavour in defence and midfield and Edin Dzeko was named in place of Carlos Tevez in attack.
And what an impact Dzeko made, the Bosnian was on the score sheet twice in the opening four minutes.
The first was an absolute classic. It began close to the Blues own penalty area with Kompany’s flick to Zabaleta. Dzeko and Aguero shifted the ball up the other end where the latter stood the ball up for Silva at the far post. A cushioned left foot volley from the Spaniard left Dzeko to sweep the ball home.
City’s second was less pretty but just as efficient. Kompany’s determination saw him run thirty-five yards and through a Norwich player before feeding Aguero who this time found Dzeko without the aid of Silva and the result was again the ball nestling in the Norwich net.
The home side pulled one back from Anthony Pilkington’s deflected free kick that should never been and though the goals stopped flowing in the first half the incidents came thick and fast. City complained when keeper Bunn flicked a Javi Garrido back pass over his own bar and then Robert Snodgrass chested Kompany’s header off the line.
Finally as the half time whistle galloped towards the sides Sebastien Bassong fouled Nasri and the two rubbed heads. The result was a yellow for the Norwich man and red for Nasri. It seemed harsh on the Frenchman.
Mancini was still shaking his head at that decision when the teams emerged for the second half but he was soon smiling again as Aguero stretched the lead back to two goals. Yaya Toure’s exquisite pass hit Bassong on its way into the penalty area and it fell perfectly for the Argentine who lofted the ball over Bunn and into the empty net.
The lead was deflated again in the 63rd minute when Bassong was left unmarked at the back post from a quick corner and he nodded back for Russell Martin to score for the first time this season.
Anyone who thought the champions might buckle were, though, barking up the wrong tree and three minutes later Clichy’s ball beat the off-side trap and Dzeko strode through to shoot against the post and into the net off Bunn’s head.
Even then, the over-generous visitors contrived to give Norwich another sniff by giving away a comical third goal in the 75th minute that entered the net via Martin’s foot and Joe Hart’s head. All the goals were given away from set-pieces.
The Blues could have made it five but Bunn saved brilliantly from Aguero and then there were just the seven minutes of injury time for nails to be bitten to the quick!What an end to a sensational 2012.