LONDON, October 31 – Yaya Toure’s late penalty bailed out Joe Hart and secured three points for Manchester City in a narrow 2-1 win over Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium.
Nicolas Otamendi opened the scoring for City in the 67th minute, before Hart’s error allowed Cameron Jerome to tap home with seven minutes to play.
But Russell Martin’s handball on 89 minutes gave Toure the chance from the spot, and the Ivory Coast international made it nine successful penalties out of nine in the Premier League to put City ahead.
Martin was sent off by referee Bobby Madley for the offence – the Canaries defender deflected Raheem Sterling’s goal-bound effort wide with his elbow after a mistake from John Ruddy.
Manuel Pellegrini side’s still had time to win, and miss, another penalty as Aleksandar Kolarov fired wide following Robbie Brady’s trip on Sterling in the last minute of stoppage time.
The victory keeps Manchester City top of the table with 25 points from 11 games ahead of a trip to Sevilla in the Champions League next week.
As for Norwich, the defeat makes it four straight in the Premier League, and they remain winless in the top flight since their 3-1 victory over Bournemouth in mid-September.
Alex Neil sprang a surprise with his tactics from the start, choosing the operate a back three of Sebastian Bassong, Russel Martin and Ryan Bennett, with Brady and Martin Olsson as wing-backs, and the system worked well.
Having lost 7-0 on their previous visit to the Etihad Stadium, the plan was clearly to keep it tight, and Manchester City were left frustrated by a disciplined Norwich display in a first-half that yielded just two clear cut chances – one to either side.
Bony miscued badly when set through by striker partner Kelechi Iheanacho, who was making his first Premier League start, while Matt Jarvis forced an excellent save from Joe Hart after a quick counter-attack from the Canaries.
Cameron Jerome occupied Kompany and Otamendi as Norwich retained a threat on the break, while Alexander Tettey and Youssouf Mulumbu did an effective job screening Kevin de Bruyne.
Bony twice fired wide of Ruddy’s left hand post, with his first chance a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. Iheanacho nut-megged Martin in the build-up, and fed Bony, who cut inside onto his right foot before blazing wide.
A mazy run from Brady down the right-hand side led to Norwich’s best opening – Jarvis latched on to the Ireland international’s through ball and took it first time after splitting Vincent Kompany and Bacary Sagna, but Hart tipped it over.
The game remained finely poised until Otamendi, La Liga’s top scoring defender in his final season at Valencia, gave City the lead with a fantastic header mid-way through the second half.
Having defended so well, Norwich went to sleep from a corner and allowed the Argentina international to power past Ruddy from 12 yards.
The Canaries had grown in confidence prior to Otamendi’s opener, and equalised after a calamitous mistake from Hart.
The England international misjudged Brady’s deep cross, and dropped the ball at the feet of Jerome, leaving the Norwich striker the simplest of chances to level the score.
But the Premier League leaders struck back six minutes later, capitalising on a Ruddy error to make it three straight Premier League wins.
The Norwich keeper was left stranded after rushing out to clear his lines, and Fernando shifted the ball to Sterling, who swept towards an empty net, only for Martin to intervene with his elbow.
Referee Madley pointed to the spot and sent the Norwich captain off, allowing Toure to put City back in front.
Martin Olsson’s deflected striker tested Hart in the final minutes of stoppage time as the Canaries pushed for a leveller, before Sterling won a penalty following a foul by Brady.
But Kolarov missed the target with the final kick of the game.