Norwich City 0-1 Manchester United
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.
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.
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.
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."
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- 10FerBooked at 31mins
- 24BennettBooked at 59mins
- 5Bassong Nguena
- 7SnodgrassSubstituted forMurphyat 79'minutes
- 4JohnsonBooked at 64mins
- 11HooperSubstituted forvan Wolfswinkelat 69'minutes
- 14HoolahanSubstituted forElmanderat 89'minutes
- 22RedmondBooked at 90mins
- 9van Wolfswinkel
- 1de Gea
- 12SmallingBooked at 90mins
- 14HernándezBooked at 34minsSubstituted forFletcherat 87'minutes
- 11GiggsBooked at 27minsSubstituted forWelbeckat 45'minutes
- 26KagawaSubstituted forJanuzajat 69'minutes
- Phil Dowd
- Shots on Target