Substitute Danny Welbeck scored the winner as Manchester United beat a determined Norwich City to secure a fourth consecutive Premier League win.

The Canaries had shots from Russell Martin and Gary Hooper saved prior to the visitors, who were without the injured Wayne Rooney, taking the lead.

A series of ricochets put Welbeck through on goal and he rounded keeper John Ruddy before slotting in.

Moyes says Welbeck made the difference

Norwich struggled to respond and are now without a win in four league games.

United had Rooney sidelined because of a groin problem and, despite missing their inspirational striker, they overcame his absence to secure a hard-fought three points courtesy of Welbeck's fourth goal in five games.

The victory moves them up to sixth and two points off the top four, although that gap and placing could change with several of their rivals in action on Sunday.

The Canaries have rarely been able to pull too far away from the relegation zone this season and a second defeat in three days sees them join a host of clubs in danger.

They beat the Red Devils at home last season but, despite a valiant effort, there was no shock win this time for Norwich, who visit fellow strugglers Crystal Palace on New Year's Day.

The Canaries allowed United to dominate possession early on and the visitors went close when Shinji Kagawa had an ambitious shot from a tight angle parried away by keeper John Ruddy.

The home side were soaking up United's pressure in the hope of catching them on the counter-attack and the strategy almost paid off after 17 minutes.

Analysis

"Norwich played so well for a large part of the game. There was a large slice of good luck in build-up to Manchester United's winner but it was expertly taken by Danny Welbeck."

Robert Snodgrass, on the right wing, threaded a piercing ball into the forward run of right-back Martin, whose shot was palmed away by United goalkeeper David De Gea.

The rebound fell to Wes Hoolahan but he failed to steer the ball in from six yards and defender Chris Smalling put the ball wide.

The chance sent a bolt of confidence and belief through Norwich's play, with the Carrow Road side seizing control of the game and forcing United onto the back foot.

Snodgrass was an influential presence and he again combined with Martin before teeing up striker Hooper, whose first-time shot was parried away by De Gea.

United struggled to cope with Norwich's quick passing in midfield and use of the wings and it was only the rugged defending of Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans which helped keep the hosts at bay.

After a Sebastien Bassong header was saved by De Gea, Hoolahan weaved his way into the United area only to have his shot blocked by the well-placed Evans.

The visitors had struggled to create opportunities in the first half and manager David Moyes decided to bring on Welbeck for Ryan Giggs.

The move had the desired effect as United took the lead, although there was an element of fortune about their goal.

Lucky goal tough to take - Hughton

Canaries defender Ryan Bennett's clearance ricocheted off Welbeck and Javier Hernandez before releasing the United substitute, who finished in clinical fashion for his sixth league goal of the campaign.

The effort took the wind out of Norwich's sails and, despite a speculative penalty shout for Hoolahan going down when sandwiched in between Patrice Evra and Vidic, they never recovered as United comfortably closed out the game.

Norwich manager Chris Hughton:

"I thought we were magnificent right throughout game. Their winner was a fortuitous goal with the double deflection which ran into the path of Danny Welbeck.

"Our organisation was excellent and we had some good chances.

"On the balance of play, defeat is a tough one to take. So many aspects of our game were very good but goals win games - and their goal was fortunate."

Manchester United boss David Moyes:

"Norwich put on a great show, but we did as well. We kept it quite tight at the back.

"Danny Welbeck couldn't score very often last season, but he looks like he will do it every time now. He changed the game when he came on.

"He is doing very well, and we need everybody to chip in with goals when Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are out. I would expect Rooney to be back for Tottenham."

For a gallery of images from Saturday's Premier League games please go to the BBC Sport Facebook page. 

Lineup, Bookings (7) & Substitutions (6)

Norwich City

  • 01 Ruddy
  • 02 Martin
  • 23 Olsson
  • 10 Fer Booked
  • 24 R Bennett Booked
  • 05 Bassong Nguena
  • 07 Snodgrass (Murphy - 79' )
  • 04 Johnson Booked
  • 11 Hooper (van Wolfswinkel - 69' )
  • 14 Hoolahan (Elmander - 89' )
  • 22 Redmond Booked

Substitutes

  • 03 Whittaker
  • 09 van Wolfswinkel
  • 13 Bunn
  • 16 Elmander
  • 18 Garrido
  • 19 Becchio
  • 31 Murphy

Manchester United

  • 01 de Gea
  • 12 Smalling Booked
  • 03 Evra
  • 23 Cleverley
  • 15 Vidic
  • 06 Evans
  • 18 Young
  • 16 Carrick
  • 14 Hernández Booked (Fletcher - 87' )
  • 11 Giggs Booked (Welbeck - 45' )
  • 26 Kagawa (Januzaj - 69' )

Substitutes

  • 08 Anderson
  • 13 Lindegaard
  • 19 Welbeck
  • 22 Fabio
  • 24 Fletcher
  • 29 Zaha
  • 44 Januzaj
Ref: Phil Dowd
Att: 26,851

Match Stats

Shots

15 7

On target

4 3

Corners

8 3

Fouls

11 10

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Norwich City 0, Manchester United 1.

90:00 +4:55 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Norwich City 0, Manchester United 1.

90:00 +4:04 Booking

Booking Chris Smalling (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

90:00 +3:51

Foul by Chris Smalling (Manchester United).

90:00 +3:51

Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

90:00 +3:01

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Russell Martin.

90:00 +1:06 Booking

Booking Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card.

90:00 +0:38

Patrice Evra (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

90:00 +0:38

Foul by Nathan Redmond (Norwich City).

89:05

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Bradley Johnson.

88:45 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Norwich City. Johan Elmander replaces Wes Hoolahan.

88:26

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Martin Olsson.

86:09 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester United. Darren Fletcher replaces Javier Hernández.

85:17

Attempt blocked. Danny Welbeck (Manchester United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Javier Hernández.

84:49

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

83:47

Delay in match Patrice Evra (Manchester United) because of an injury.

82:58

Attempt missed. Josh Murphy (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Leroy Fer.

82:03

Patrice Evra (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

82:03

Foul by Leroy Fer (Norwich City).

79:44

Jonny Evans (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

79:44

Foul by Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City).

79:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Norwich City. Josh Murphy replaces Robert Snodgrass.

75:57

Javier Hernández (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

75:57

Foul by Russell Martin (Norwich City).

73:06

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Tom Cleverley.

70:28

Foul by Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United).

70:28

Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

69:46

Foul by Tom Cleverley (Manchester United).

69:46

Russell Martin (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

69:25

Attempt blocked. Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

68:58 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester United. Adnan Januzaj replaces Shinji Kagawa.

68:50 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Norwich City. Ricky van Wolfswinkel replaces Gary Hooper.

68:02

Attempt saved. Javier Hernández (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Patrice Evra.

66:50

Tom Cleverley (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

66:50

Foul by Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City).

64:51

Foul by Javier Hernández (Manchester United).

64:51

Sébastien Bassong (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

63:46 Booking

Booking Bradley Johnson (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

63:38

Patrice Evra (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

63:38

Foul by Bradley Johnson (Norwich City).

59:49

Attempt blocked. Gary Hooper (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Bradley Johnson.

58:26 Booking

Booking Ryan Bennett (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

58:16

Danny Welbeck (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

58:16

Foul by Ryan Bennett (Norwich City).

56:08 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Norwich City 0, Manchester United 1. Danny Welbeck (Manchester United) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Javier Hernández.

54:36

Foul by Javier Hernández (Manchester United).

54:36

Martin Olsson (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

51:29

Offside, Manchester United. Shinji Kagawa tries a through ball, but Javier Hernández is caught offside.

48:06

Attempt missed. Ashley Young (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Chris Smalling.

47:18

Hand ball by Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United).

46:04

Attempt missed. Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Wes Hoolahan.

45:00

Second Half begins Norwich City 0, Manchester United 0.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester United. Danny Welbeck replaces Ryan Giggs.

45:00 +3:06 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Norwich City 0, Manchester United 0.

45:00 +2:34

Attempt missed. Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Russell Martin with a cross.

45:00 +1:02

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Nemanja Vidic.

44:35

Attempt saved. Javier Hernández (Manchester United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ashley Young.

43:42

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

42:51

Delay in match Jonny Evans (Manchester United) because of an injury.

41:56

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Patrice Evra.

40:54

Offside, Manchester United. Shinji Kagawa tries a through ball, but Javier Hernández is caught offside.

39:45

Attempt missed. Chris Smalling (Manchester United) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Ryan Giggs.

38:45

Attempt blocked. Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Bradley Johnson.

38:36

Attempt blocked. Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

36:45

Attempt missed. Michael Carrick (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Ryan Giggs.

35:59

Attempt saved. Sébastien Bassong (Norwich City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Robert Snodgrass with a cross.

35:23

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Chris Smalling.

33:58 Booking

Booking Javier Hernández (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card.

33:27

Foul by Patrice Evra (Manchester United).

33:27

Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

30:56 Booking

Booking Leroy Fer (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

30:51

Patrice Evra (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

30:51

Foul by Leroy Fer (Norwich City).

28:48

Javier Hernández (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

28:48

Foul by Bradley Johnson (Norwich City).

28:10

Attempt saved. Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Gary Hooper.

26:04 Booking

Booking Ryan Giggs (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card.

25:45

Foul by Ryan Giggs (Manchester United).

25:45

Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

25:17

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Nemanja Vidic.

24:52

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Patrice Evra.

23:00

Attempt missed. Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Wes Hoolahan.

21:21

Attempt saved. Gary Hooper (Norwich City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Robert Snodgrass with a cross.

19:57

Attempt missed. Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right following a set piece situation.

19:00

Foul by Michael Carrick (Manchester United).

19:00

Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

17:29

Attempt blocked. Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

16:50

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Jonny Evans.

16:44

Attempt missed. Leroy Fer (Norwich City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Robert Snodgrass with a cross following a corner.

16:14

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Chris Smalling.

16:11

Attempt saved. Russell Martin (Norwich City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Robert Snodgrass.

8:27

Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

8:27

Foul by Leroy Fer (Norwich City).

7:39

Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

7:39

Foul by Gary Hooper (Norwich City).

6:57

Foul by Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United).

6:57

Gary Hooper (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

Live data and text provided by our data suppliers