Norwich City produced a magnificent all-round display to inflict Manchester City’s first Premier League defeat since January at an ecstatic Carrow Road.
The Canaries were missing eight players but made light of those injuries and took full advantage of a performance from the reigning champions that was careless in the extreme and characterised by chaotic defending.
Norwich were 2-0 ahead within 30 minutes after Kenny McLean rose unmarked to meet Emiliano Buendia’s corner and then Todd Cantwell finished a flowing move involving Marco Stiepermann and Teemu Pukki.
Sergio Aguero’s header just before the break hinted at a Manchester City comeback but a misunderstanding between John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi saw Buendia rob the Argentina centre-back and set up Pukki to score.
Rodri scored his first goal for Manchester City with two minutes left before referee Kevin Friend’s final whistle was the cue for wild celebrations for the home side.
The rare defeat, meanwhile, leaves Pep Guardiola’s side five points behind Liverpool.
Man City flounder in Laporte’s absence
It was inevitable City would miss the class and composure of Aymeric Laporte – set to be out for six months with a knee injury – but this display suggests the gap he leaves is even bigger than Manchester City may have feared.
Guardiola has lost quality and influence with Laporte’s injury, as well as Vincent Kompany’s departure, and his nightmare scenario unfolded at Carrow Road.
Stones and Otamendi had a harrowing time and City’s manager will know he must now rely on the pair at least until January.
Guardiola himself should not escape criticism for the defeat though after he left Kevin de Bruyne out of his starting team then delayed his arrival until after Norwich had re-established their two-goal lead.
They were mystifying decisions and a heavy price was paid.
Guardiola will also be concerned by the manner of Norwich’s goals, which ranged from poor marking at set pieces – a recurring theme – to catastrophic attempts to play out from the back.
Stones and Otamendi were nervous throughout and their lack of understanding reflected the fact they had only played together at centre-back four times in the last 20 months.
It would be ludicrous to start writing off the title hopes of a team so rich in quality but that five-point gap to Liverpool looks large when you consider Jurgen Klopp’s team only lost once in the league last season, to City, and have won their opening five games this term.
Norwich defy the odds
Norwich City’s resources were so thin that manager Farke made up the numbers by naming two goalkeepers on the bench as eight players were removed from his squad by injury.
He said he could not “park the bus” because he did not have enough defenders and instead the German relied on his customary intense approach – and what an occasion it gave the Canaries fans inside a bouncing Carrow Road.
Norwich were fiercely disciplined in defence but also ambitious and confident when they had the ball, not afraid to play out from the back.
They had 11 high-class performers but special mention should go to Ibrahim Amadou at the back and the creative brilliance of Buendia, who pressed City into submission as he proved with the third goal.
At the head of it all was Pukki, on the mark once more with a poacher’s strike but also unselfish when he passed across the face of goal for Cantwell.
When City’s inevitable charge came, Norwich were almost out on their feet but hurled their bodies around the penalty area to block shots while goalkeeper Tim Krul performed heroics when called upon.
This was a complete performance that will send self-belief surging through Farke’s side and indeed the supporters who kept up relentless noise throughout an occasion they will remember for a very long time.
Man of the match – Ibrahim Amadou (Norwich City)
‘A special day for us’ – what they said
Norwich City manager Daniel Farke, speaking to BBC Sport: “Of course it is a special day for us and for the club, against one of the best teams in the world and when we have so many injuries.
“We had to be special in our plan for City because they are the best team in the world but we had setbacks too with our injuries. We deserve the win, we were exceptional.
“[Ibrahim] Amadou was beautiful today, playing in an unusual position, and a debut for Alex Tettey and Sam Byram too. I can’t praise the lads enough. We had so many things to overcome.
“Teemu [Pukki] was brilliant, not only because of his goals but for his work rate too. Teemu always thinks about the team first, which is why he deserves all of the praise.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola on BBC Sport: “Congrats to Norwich. The first goal was from a set-piece and the second on the counter, so credit to them. It is what it is. We have to learn from this and carry on.
“Our passing was not bad. We created chances but we could not score them. They are a really good team with good players with quality, we saw that in the Championship last year. They were clinical today.
“We did not have the urgency in the final third we normally have. In football you can’t always avoid mistakes. I don’t know how many shots we had or how many they had, but football is about goals and about what you do in the boxes.”
Man City’s rare slip-up – the stats
- Norwich registered only their second win in their last 15 Premier League meetings with the reigning champions (W2 D1 L12) – their other win was also against Man City in May 2013.
- Manchester City suffered a Premier League defeat against a newly-promoted opponent for the first time since March 2015 against Burnley – they had been unbeaten in 25 such matches before today, including all 18 under Pep Guardiola.
- Norwich’s Teemu Pukki has been involved in eight goals (six goals, two assists) in his first five Premier League appearances – only Sergio Aguero has been involved in more goals in a player’s first five appearances in the competition’s history (nine).
- Man City striker Aguero became the third player to score in a team’s first five Premier League matches of a season, after José Antonio Reyes for Arsenal in 2004-05 and Wayne Rooney for Manchester United in 2011-12.
- Manchester City conceded three goals in a league match against a newly-promoted team for the first time since August 2013, when they lost 3-2 away at Cardiff City.
- Norwich’s Emiliano Buendía is the first midfielder to assist as many as four goals in his first five Premier League appearances since Eden Hazard in 2012.
- Manchester City conceded twice in the opening half-hour of a Premier League game for only the second time under Pep Guardiola, also doing so in December 2016 against Leicester City, when they conceded three times.
- Norwich striker Pukki is the first player to score in his first three home Premier League appearances since Alexandre Lacazette in 2017, and the first Finnish player to do so since Jonatan Johansson in 2000.
Man City open their Champions League campaign away to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, 18 September at 20:00 BST, before facing Watford at home in the Premier League on Saturday, 21 Septembr at 15:00.
Norwich are back in action at the same time next Saturday when they travel to Turf Moor to play Burnley.