It's been a day of upsets in the Premier League, with Reading beating Everton and West Bromwich Albion triumphing at home over Chelsea. But the biggest surprise of the afternoon came at Carrow Road, where Norwich City beat Manchester United 1-0.
United were without Wayne Roomey, but there was no lack of firepower with both Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez up front -- the two have already combined for _ goals so far this season. And even though Norwich had gone unbeaten over their past five matches, with the run of form the visitors have been on absolutely nobody was anticipating a win for Chris Hughton's side.
A bitty first half saw some half-chances at both ends, although neither team seemed that interested in scoring. United were dominating possession without really creating much, while Norwich seemed content to let their guests push forward and then attempt to counterattack. It was actually the Canaries who came closest to scoring, worrying Anders Lindegaard in the United goalmouth with a couple of crosses.
Nothing much looked like happening, but when halftime came everyone would have been pretty confident in assuming that the visitors would step things up a notch after the break. Instead, it was Norwich who struck, breaking at speed down the left flank via Javier Garrido, who swung in a cross that Anthony Pilkington met with a perfect header. There was nothing Lindegaard could do as the ball flew straight into the top corner to give the Canaries a 1-0 lead.
United, naturally, reacted by attempting to throw bodies forward. Danny Welbeck and Paul Scholes were introduced 70 minutes in, and the former almost immediately blew a big chance by hitting an incoming cross with his shoulder and seeing the ball float harmlessly past John Ruddy's left-hand post. By the 83rd minute, Sir Alex Ferguson was becoming desperate, pulling centre back Rio Ferdinand off for Anderson. Nothing was working.
Four minutes of injury time were signalled for, and suddenly Norwich broke out once more. Both Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan had been pulled off for fresh legs in Steve Morison and Jonathan Howson, and it was that duo who raced at Lindegaard's goal, the latter eventually finding himself beyond the defence with only the goalkeeper to beat.
He screwed his shot well wide, of course. They weren't going to get away with a win that easily.
John Ruddy had to spring to the rescue shortly thereafter as Sebastian Bassong, trying to clear out a cross, managed to send a flying header back towards his own goal. Fortunately for the hosts, Ruddy was up to the task, acrobatically tipping the ball behind for a corner. The United pressure was nearly overwhelming, and Scholes nearly gave them an equaliser at the death after he nearly got onto a spill from the goalkeeper after Rafael had sent in a piledriver from the edge of the box.
But Norwich managed to hold out. In doing so, they ensured that it was Manchester City, not United, who will top the Premier League table at the end of the weekend.