Manchester City’s defense of the English Premier League title is already in trouble.
Hapless defensive errors helped Norwich beat City 3-2 on Saturday and leave the defending champion five points behind perfect Liverpool after just five games.
City hadn’t lost a league game since January — and drawn only once in that time — but conceded two goals to Norwich inside the opening half-hour. A team which soared last season was brought to earth.
“The people cannot expect we win every time or make 100 points (every season),” manager Pep Guardiola said. “Even with the (score at) 3-2 we had chances to make another one. The team never gave up.”
First, Kenny McLean evaded City’s marking to head in a corner from Emi Buendia, then City was caught unawares by a Norwich counterattack. Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell broke together, Pukki drawing the defenders before delivering the ball to give Cantwell an easy finish.
Sergio Aguero revived City with a goal just before halftime — he’s scored in all of City’s first five games — but sloppy defending just after the break undid his work.
Nicolas Otamendi failed to notice Buendia running in behind him and was robbed of the ball on the edge of the penalty area before Buendia passed for Pukki to score his sixth goal.
Rodrigo’s low, hard shot for an 88th-minute goal gave City hope, but Norwich’s defense and goalkeeper Tim Krul weathered the storm for an unlikely win.
Indeed, Norwich had to deal with more than just the Premier League champion. A wave of injuries left the underdog with a squad so depleted that it couldn’t find six outfield players as substitutes, instead picking two goalkeepers on the seven-man bench.
As McLean put it: “When we have our backs to the wall we come out fighting.”
By: James Ellingworth, AP Sports Writer