Manchester United boosted their hopes of grabbing a Champions League spot after winning 1-0 at struggling Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday.
- Norwich City 0 Manchester United 1
- Martial injured in the warm-up
- Mata breaks the deadlock late on
- United a point off 4th place
- Canaries stay in 19th spot
Juan Mata scored the only goal of a poor game in the 72nd minute, a result that leaves the Canaries two points off survival and hoping for other results to go their way over the weekend to retain any hope of beating the drop.
United were dealt a blow in the pre-match warm-up when Anthony Martial suffered an injury and had to be replaced by Ander Herrera, with skipper Wayne Rooney switching to a forward role in the absence of the rested Marcus Rashford.
After a scrappy opening, it was the home side who created the first chance when Nathan Redmond skipped past his marker down the left and stood a cross up to the far post which was met by a powerful Cameron Jerome header that was kept out by the legs of David de Gea.
Louis van Gaal was forced into a further change to his side in the 13th minute when Matteo Darmian was carried off with a foot injury and replaced by Cameron Borthwick-Jackson.
United enjoyed the majority of the possession in the opening period but only created one chance of note when Chris Smalling headed a Mata corner over from close range.
The visitors upped the pace of their game at the start of the second period and went close when Mata’s ball over the top was volleyed into the side-netting by Herrera from a difficult angle.
Norwich boss Alex Neil made an attacking change in the 63rd minute when Robbie Brady was replaced by striker Dieumerci Mbokani as the Canaries switched to a 4-4-2.
A poor clearance from Borthwick-Jackson allowed Gary O’Neil an opening but the Canaries midfielder blazed his effort over the bar and moments later Mbokani failed to time a header when well placed to find the target.
The deadlock was finally broken though with 18 minutes to go when Sebastien Bassong misjudged a ball through to Rooney, who broke into the area before squaring for Mata to sweep home.
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United substitute Morgan Schneiderlin pulled an effort wide, after picking up a brilliant pass from Rooney, as the visitors looked more likely to grab a second than Norwich did to finding an equaliser.
The disappointing Memphis Depay and Herrera both went close late on as United held on comfortably to claim the three points and boost their Champions League chances, while Norwich look doomed to the dreaded drop.