Premier League
NorwichNorwich City0Man UtdManchester United1
By Aimee LewisBBC Sport
Dejected Norwich City players
Norwich are second from bottom with two games remaining

Norwich City's chances of avoiding relegation seem increasingly dismal after a home defeat by Champions League-chasing Manchester United.

It was a match low on chances, but the win moves United to within one point of Manchester City, who are fourth.

With the score goalless, Cameron Jerome had Norwich's best chance only for David de Gea to save his header.

A mistake by Sebastien Bassong allowed Wayne Rooney to race clear and find the supporting Juan Mata, who slotted in.

Defeat left Norwich second from bottom, four points behind Sunderland, who beat Chelsea 3-2, and three adrift of a Newcastle side who drew with relegated Aston Villa.

One more victory for Sunderland will secure their Premier League status and seal the fates of both Norwich and Newcastle.

For Manchester United, the prospect of playing in next season's Champions League remains achievable.

Manchester City host Arsenal on Sunday and anything other than victory for Manuel Pellegrini's side would put United's bid for a top-four finish in their own hands.

United fail to impress again

The visitors controlled the majority of the match, but their attacks lacked zip and imagination, a complaint often made this season by critics of Louis van Gaal's tactics.

United had more than 60% of possession in the first 20 minutes, but failed to muster a shot on target. By half-time, a tame long-distance strike from Jesse Lingard was their only effort on target, while Chris Smalling had headed over from three yards out.

The Red Devils ended the match having had more than 67% of possession but just two shots on target. It is unlikely West Ham's defence will be as generous as Norwich when Van Gaal's men visit on Tuesday.

Wayne Rooney touches
This graphic illustrates Wayne Rooney's touches against Norwich. Only three United players made fewer passes than Rooney's 30 - goalkeeper David de Gea (23), Matteo Darmian (eight), and substitute Morgan Schneiderlin (seven)

Of further concern was Wayne Rooney's role. The captain was a peripheral figure for much of the first half - indeed the only visiting player to have fewer touches than him in the opening 45 minutes was Matteo Darmian, who was substituted after 12 minutes because of injury.

The England international did improve after the break, and it was his tenacity that allowed Mata to score a goal that could prove to be crucial to their Champions League hopes.

And it was a victory achieved despite Van Gaal having to make a late change to his line-up, moving Rooney up front and promoting Ander Herrera to midfield, after Anthony Martial was injured during the warm-up.

Missed chances, bad mistakes

Nathan Redmond
Only Aston Villa (13) have lost more Premier League games in 2016 than Norwich (12)

Cheered on by their vociferous supporters, Norwich began the match with energy. They were organised in defence and effective in pressing their visitors, but as the match progressed their players tired and their style of play became increasingly ineffective.

Scoring has been a problem for the Canaries throughout the season, which is why they are facing a return to the Championship, and so it proved again.

Had Jerome headed either side of De Gea from six yards, the brilliant Spaniard may not have been able to prevent the hosts from taking the lead, but the chance was squandered.

Alex Neil changed tactics in the 60th minute, bringing on joint-top scorer Dieumerci Mbokani to aid Jerome in a two-man attack, and while his side managed to loosen United's stranglehold they continued to be profligate, and were made to pay.

Mbokani mistimed a header from 12 yards and Gary O'Neil should have done better than to wildly swing the ball into the stands when Cameron Borthwick-Jackson headed the ball into his path.

They were missed opportunities made all the more galling when Bassong failed to clear near the edge of his box and Rooney nicked possession. The England captain held the ball up and fed the supporting Mata, who was allowed to run 30 yards unchallenged by the equally culpable Martin Olsson.

Man of the match - Juan Mata

Juan Mata
The Spaniard scored the winner, had the best passing accuracy (95.5%) of United's players and put in more crosses than any of his team-mates

What the managers said

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal: "I said to the boys, we have to win, there is no excuse. We have won and it was more than deserved. We keep the pressure on our competitors and I am a happy manager.

Norwich 0-1 Man Utd: I am a happy manager - Louis van Gaal

"They were also fighting and pressing and it makes it difficult. The second half we did much better because we kept the ball and had more than one chance.

"We have seen this team can manage injuries. Away games are difficult for us and we changed the results by winning here. I hope we can see something between Man City and Arsenal that helps us."

Norwich 0-1 Man Utd: Alex Neil says Canaries' belief may not be strong

Norwich boss Alex Neil: "The players tried as hard as they could but they make a silly error and it costs us the game.

"We had a chance with Cameron Jerome's header, but there were not many chances in the game. We had good shape but we could not create as much as we would have liked.

"The best teams get the goal when they are on top and ride the pressure. We made an error and it costs us. It is going to be tough, we are relying on other teams but we have got two more games."

The stats you need to know

  • Juan Mata has scored more Premier League goals against Norwich City than any other opponent (five).
  • Wayne Rooney is now joint-third for assists in Premier League history (95, level with Cesc Fabregas).
  • Norwich City have won just one of their past eight Premier League matches at Carrow Road (W1 D2 L5).
  • Manchester United have lost only once in their past seven in the Premier League (W5 D1).
  • The Canaries have won just two of their previous eight home Premier League games versus United (L6).

What next?

Norwich have two games remaining, at home to Watford on 11 May, followed by a trip to Everton's Goodison Park on the final day of the season. Manchester United visit West Ham on 10 May before hosting Bournemouth next Sunday.

Line-ups

Norwich

  • 1Ruddy
  • 25Pinto
  • 5Martin
  • 6Bassong
  • 23Olsson
  • 22Redmond
  • 28O'NeilBooked at 90mins
  • 8HowsonSubstituted forDorransat 78'minutes
  • 12BradySubstituted forMbokaniat 63'minutes
  • 14Hoolahan
  • 10JeromeSubstituted forBamfordat 78'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Whittaker
  • 7Naismith
  • 9Mbokani
  • 11Bamford
  • 13Rudd
  • 16Jarvis
  • 18Dorrans

Man Utd

  • 1de Gea
  • 25A Valencia
  • 12Smalling
  • 5Rojo
  • 36DarmianSubstituted forBorthwick-Jacksonat 16'minutes
  • 16CarrickSubstituted forFosu-Mensahat 88'minutes
  • 8Mata
  • 21Herrera
  • 35LingardSubstituted forSchneiderlinat 78'minutes
  • 7Depay
  • 10Rooney

Substitutes

  • 11Januzaj
  • 20Romero
  • 28Schneiderlin
  • 33McNair
  • 43Borthwick-Jackson
  • 51Fosu-Mensah
Referee:
Craig Pawson
Attendance:
27,132

Match Stats

Home TeamNorwichAway TeamMan Utd
Possession
Home33%
Away67%
Shots
Home8
Away15
Shots on Target
Home2
Away2
Corners
Home1
Away6
Fouls
Home11
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Norwich City 0, Manchester United 1.

  2. Full Time

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

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ander Herrera (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Juan Mata.

  4. Post update

    Attempt missed. Memphis Depay (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.

  5. Booking

    Gary O'Neil (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  6. Post update

    Juan Mata (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Gary O'Neil (Norwich City).

  8. Post update

    Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City).

  10. Post update

    Ander Herrera (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Graham Dorrans (Norwich City).

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Manchester United. Timothy Fosu-Mensah replaces Michael Carrick.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Wayne Rooney.

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. Graham Dorrans (Norwich City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Wes Hoolahan with a cross following a set piece situation.

  15. Post update

    Hand ball by Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Manchester United).

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Norwich City. Graham Dorrans replaces Jonny Howson because of an injury.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Norwich City. Patrick Bamford replaces Cameron Jerome.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Manchester United. Morgan Schneiderlin replaces Jesse Lingard.

  19. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  20. Post update

    Delay in match Jonny Howson (Norwich City) because of an injury.

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