City ended the season in disappointing fashion as Norwich deservedly headed back to East Anglia with all three points.
Jack Rodwell capped a fine individual performance with a goal in each half, but it wasn’t enough to stir a jaded Blues to life and as the Canaries took full advantage of a lacklustre display from the hosts to win 3-2.
It wasn’t hard to understand perhaps why City couldn’t raise their game with the FA Cup final defeat against Wigan still fresh in the memory, not to mention the events off the pitch that have taken place in the last week.
A little over 12 months ago, the Blues went into the final game of the season with the biggest domestic prize of all within grasp – there was not quite so much resting on this game, save for professional pride and a desire to end the campaign on a high.
Norwich, too, had nothing in particular resting on this game other than the possibility of finishing in the top ten – barely a fortnight since they’d been embroiled in a battle to stay in the Premier League
...City 2 Norwich 3
Brian Kidd oversaw the second of his two matches in charge and made five changes from the side that beat Reading 2-0 in midweek. Pablo Zabaleta returned from suspension while Edin Dzeko, Aleksandar Kolarov, Samir Nasri and Rodwell were all recalled.
The opening exchanges were untidy and lacked urgency with only a glancing Dzeko header causing the visitors’ keeper John Ruddy any real concern.
The Canaries, however, criticised for their negativity in recent months, soon began to find gaps behind the City defence and after two penalty claims in the space of a minute, they were unlucky to see a Ryan Bennett header cleared off the line by Joleon Lescott.
Five minutes after that and Chris Hughton’s men deservedly went ahead when Wes Hoolahan held off a challenge to slip the ball through to Anthony Pilkington who placed the ball past Joe Hart to give the Premier League’s worst travellers a shock lead.
It had been coming.
But the goal had the desired effect on City who drew level inside three minutes as Rodwell opened his s account for the Blues with a powerful shot from ten yards after a smart move between Nasri and Dzeko
...City 2 Norwich 3
It was game on and the home crowd, used to such comebacks, expected City to shift up a gear and take the game to Norwich, but the sides went in level at the break.
The Canaries started the second period the brighter and the Blues again failed to heed the warnings with Hart forced to scramble away a header from Johnson before, moments later, Grant Holt finished an incisive move with a tap-in at the far post on 54 minutes.
City again responded quickly again in a see-saw of a match with a goal of real quality. Yaya Toure shrugged past two challenges to spot Rodwell accelerating from his own half and played a peach of a ball into his path. Rodwell out-paced Steven Whittaker as he burst into the box before burying a low drive past Ruddy.
Surely now City would kick-on?
But in a fixture that had yielded an incredible 20 goals in the past three meetings, it was no surprise when a fifth goal went - the only surprise was it went to the men in yellow and green in and it was perhaps the best effort of the game.
Jonny Howson was allowed to run through the City midfield and defence almost unchallenged before tucking the ball past Hart – it was poor defending to say the least with the Blues’ back four looking out-of-sorts all afternoon - but the same could be said of the whole team.
The Blues couldn’t muster an equaliser despite having the best part of half-an-hour to go and never really looked likely to as the season ended on a flat note and a rare home defeat to Norwich.