Manchester United edged past Norwich to retain their position at the top of the Premier League.

Anderson headed in on 68 minutes before Danny Welbeck sealed the points after exchanging passes with Park Ji-sung.

The pattern of the game could have been different if Anthony Pilkington had taken one of two chances either side of United's opener.

But the Norwich winger shot wide when clean through and saw another effort hit the post on 75 minutes.

The hosts improved in the second period and could have extended their lead via Welbeck and Wayne Rooney, who returned to the United side after a hamstring injury.

However, they were made to work for the points on a glorious afternoon in Manchester, where the counter-attacking plans of Norwich boss Paul Lambert almost came to fruition.

Ferguson impressed by Norwich

Rooney clipped the bar when he was clean through late on, while Welbeck was inches from scoring before he settled nerves inside Old Trafford three minutes from time.

The relief inside the stadium was palpable as United sealed their 19th consecutive Premier League home win, especially as the visitors caused problems on the break from the beginning.

Early on, Elliott Bennett made good progress down the right but could not find an unmarked Steve Morison, while Wes Hoolahan tested the palms of Anders Lindegaard, who was making his first Premier League start.

But once Norwich had that brief attacking flurry, Sir Alex Ferguson's side were largely camped in their opponents' half as the Canaries concentrated on defensive duties.

United certainly had the majority of possession but they were pedestrian at times, with Darren Fletcher's flick from a corner the closest they came to scoring in the first half.

DID YOU KNOW?

Victory for Manchester United was their 19th consecutive home win in the Premier League

Ferguson made seven changes to the side from the 3-3 Champions League draw with Basel, in which he called his side's defending "careless", but after the early openings, they had little to defend against in the first half.

That changed early in the second period when Phil Jones made a great interception to stop Morison's cross reaching Hoolahan and Jonny Evans, in for Rio Ferdinand, took the sting out of Pilkington's effort.

Frustration began to grow within Old Trafford, not least when Pilkington was presented with the best chance of the game up to that point.

Bradley Johnson could not find his team-mate with a through ball but Antonio Valencia slipped, putting Pilkington clean through, only for the former Huddersfield man to shoot agonisingly wide.

Lambert and his backroom staff all had their heads in their hands and the Premier League newcomers were made to rue that chance minutes later.

Lambert delighted despite defeat

From substitute Ryan Giggs' corner Jones nodded onto Rooney, who directed it towards Anderson for a close-range header to give home supporters a huge release.

That almost turned to despair soon after when Pilkington's shot was deflected against the post by the Brazilian.

But with the game becoming more open, substitute Welbeck played in Park down the right, before receiving the return pass and sliding in for his fifth goal of the season.

United could have made it 3-0 with further chances, but Norwich's Andrew Crofts also had a shot saved and his side can come away from this encounter with some reason to feel hard done by.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson : "They turned every counter attack into something positive, so that was a problem to deal with. But once we quickened the game up in the second half we were much better.

"We deserved to win because we had the most pressure and we tried to win the game as we always do. But even when it went to 1-0 they still had a go and opened up their game, and it became a very good game in the last 20 minutes."

Norwich boss Paul Lambert: "I thought we were excellent, we created chances as well, but one thing about coming to places like this is if you are creating chances you have to score.

"[Anthony Pilkington's chance] might have been the turning point but that is being harsh on him. That's not to blame Anthony for what happened at the other end, we got caught at a corner and against a quality team like that you get punished. But we played well."

Lineup, Bookings (1) & Substitutions (6)

Man Utd

  • 34 Lindegaard
  • 03 Evra
  • 04 Jones
  • 06 Evans
  • 08 Anderson (Ferdinand - 76' )
  • 13 Park Ji-sung
  • 17 Nani (Giggs - 64' )
  • 24 Fletcher
  • 25 Valencia
  • 10 Rooney
  • 14 Hernandez (Welbeck - 65' Booked )

Substitutes

  • 01 De Gea
  • 05 Ferdinand
  • 11 Giggs
  • 16 Carrick
  • 07 Owen
  • 09 Berbatov
  • 19 Welbeck

Norwich

  • 01 Ruddy
  • 02 R Martin
  • 20 Barnett
  • 23 Tierney
  • 25 Naughton
  • 04 Johnson
  • 12 Pilkington
  • 14 Hoolahan (C Martin - 85' )
  • 15 Fox (Jackson - 74' )
  • 17 Bennett (Crofts - 74' )
  • 05 Morison

Substitutes

  • 13 Rudd
  • 03 Drury
  • 07 Crofts
  • 11 Surman
  • 09 Holt
  • 10 Jackson
  • 16 C Martin
Ref: Attwell
Att: 75,514

Match Stats

Shots

17 13

On target

9 6

Corners

10 3

Fouls

9 6

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:19 Full time

Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.

90:00 +1:19

Effort on goal by Wayne Rooney from just inside the area clears the bar.

89:43

Phil Jones gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Marc Tierney. Anthony Pilkington delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, Wayne Rooney manages to make a clearance.

88:00

Shot from just outside the box by Simeon Jackson misses to the right of the target.

86:46

Ji-Sung Park provided the assist for the goal.

86:46 Goal scored

Goal! - Danny Welbeck - Man Utd 2 - 0 Norwich Danny Welbeck grabs a goal from inside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man Utd 2-0 Norwich.

86:40

A cross is delivered by Ji-Sung Park,

85:53

The ball is swung over by Danny Welbeck, save by John Ruddy.

85:36

The ball is swung over by Marc Tierney.

83:58

Corner taken right-footed by Anthony Pilkington, Header from close range by Leon Barnett clears the bar.

83:58 Substitution

Substitution Chris Martin replaces Wesley Hoolahan.

83:58

Steve Morison takes a shot. Rio Ferdinand gets a block in.

82:28

Andrew Crofts takes a shot. Save by Anders Lindegaard.

81:48

Lobbed right-footed shot by Wayne Rooney. Save made by John Ruddy.

81:07

Wesley Hoolahan fouled by Ji-Sung Park, the ref awards a free kick. Bradley Johnson takes the free kick.

80:44

Andrew Crofts fouled by Ryan Giggs, the ref awards a free kick. Russell Martin takes the free kick.

79:26

Effort from deep inside the area by Wayne Rooney misses to the left of the target.

78:41

The official flags Antonio Valencia offside. John Ruddy takes the indirect free kick.

77:29

Danny Welbeck concedes a free kick for a foul on Bradley Johnson. Russell Martin takes the free kick.

76:48

Centre by Phil Jones.

75:37 Substitution

Substitution Rio Ferdinand comes on in place of Oliveira Anderson.

74:04

Anthony Pilkington takes a shot. Blocked by Oliveira Anderson.

73:51

The ball is sent over by Kyle Naughton, Phil Jones makes a clearance.

73:11 Substitution

Substitution Andrew Crofts comes on in place of Elliott Bennett.

73:11 Substitution

Substitution Simeon Jackson is brought on as a substitute for David Fox.

71:23

Corner taken right-footed by David Fox to the near post, Ryan Giggs manages to make a clearance.

70:47

Direct free kick taken by John Ruddy.

70:47 Booking

Booking Danny Welbeck receives a caution.

70:39

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Marc Tierney by Danny Welbeck.

70:12

The ball is delivered by Darren Fletcher, Leon Barnett manages to make a clearance.

67:36

The assist for the goal came from Wayne Rooney.

67:36 Goal scored

Goal! - Oliveira Anderson - Man Utd 1 - 0 Norwich Oliveira Anderson finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close in. Man Utd 1-0 Norwich.

67:22

Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs from the left by-line.

67:10

The ball is sent over by Ryan Giggs, Bradley Johnson gets a block in.

66:16

Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Bradley Johnson gets a block in. Oliveira Anderson takes the inswinging corner, Russell Martin manages to make a clearance. Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Ryan Giggs, Leon Barnett manages to make a clearance.

66:09

Ryan Giggs sends in a cross, clearance made by Russell Martin.

64:58

Anthony Pilkington has an effort at goal from the edge of the box that misses to the right of the target.

63:34 Substitution

Substitution Javier Hernandez goes off and Danny Welbeck comes on.

63:34 Substitution

Substitution Luis Nani goes off and Ryan Giggs comes on.

62:54

The ball is delivered by Patrice Evra, David Fox gets a block in.

62:03

Effort by Wesley Hoolahan from a long way out goes over the crossbar.

61:02

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney by Leon Barnett. Direct free kick taken by Oliveira Anderson.

59:20

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Bradley Johnson by Jonathan Evans. John Ruddy restarts play with the free kick.

58:43

Ji-Sung Park takes a shot. Russell Martin gets a block in. Luis Nani delivers a pass corner to short.

56:45

Free kick awarded for a foul by Luis Nani on Wesley Hoolahan. John Ruddy takes the free kick.

54:59

Handball decision goes against Patrice Evra. Direct free kick taken by John Ruddy.

53:22

Anthony Pilkington takes a shot. Jonathan Evans gets a block in. Centre by Javier Hernandez, Kyle Naughton makes a clearance. Luis Nani takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Russell Martin.

52:45

The ball is sent over by Luis Nani, Marc Tierney gets a block in.

51:45

Javier Hernandez is caught offside. John Ruddy takes the free kick.

49:31

Shot by Wayne Rooney from outside the box goes high over the crossbar.

49:22

The ball is swung over by Javier Hernandez, clearance made by Marc Tierney.

48:35

Shot by Oliveira Anderson from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.

47:45

Centre by Antonio Valencia, clearance by Elliott Bennett. Short corner worked by Oliveira Anderson.

46:57

A cross is delivered by Patrice Evra, John Ruddy makes a clearance.

46:10

Steve Morison gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Evans. Jonathan Evans restarts play with the free kick.

45:01

The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.

45:00 +1:08 Half time

Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.

45:00 +0:44

The official flags Javier Hernandez offside. John Ruddy takes the free kick.

44:49

Shot from just outside the box by Luis Nani misses to the left of the goal.

44:38

Oliveira Anderson sends in a cross, Russell Martin manages to make a clearance.

43:16

The offside flag is raised against Javier Hernandez. Indirect free kick taken by John Ruddy.

41:33

The ball is sent over by Antonio Valencia.

39:13

Bradley Johnson concedes a free kick for a foul on Luis Nani. Direct free kick taken by Oliveira Anderson.

38:15

Shot from just outside the area by Wayne Rooney misses to the right of the target.

34:33

Patrice Evra sends in a cross, Kyle Naughton gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Luis Nani, Wayne Rooney produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the crossbar.

34:13

Ji-Sung Park produces a cross, Russell Martin manages to make a clearance.

33:43

Anthony Pilkington produces a right-footed effort from long distance that goes harmlessly over the bar.

33:07

Antonio Valencia challenges Wesley Hoolahan unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by John Ruddy.

32:46

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Luis Nani from the left by-line to the near post, Kyle Naughton manages to make a clearance.

32:08

Ji-Sung Park takes a shot. Blocked by Leon Barnett. Luis Nani takes a inswinging corner to the near post.

23:41

Patrice Evra sends in a cross, clearance by Russell Martin.

22:34

The assistant referee flags for offside against Javier Hernandez. John Ruddy takes the free kick. Steve Morison concedes a free kick for a foul on Patrice Evra. Direct free kick taken by Anders Lindegaard.

20:12

The ball is delivered by Luis Nani, save by John Ruddy.

19:20

Ji-Sung Park crosses the ball, clearance by Leon Barnett.

18:07

Anthony Pilkington takes a shot. Blocked by Phil Jones.

17:09

The ball is delivered by Kyle Naughton, clearance by Phil Jones.

16:07

Steve Morison produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the goal.

14:21

Wayne Rooney produces a cross, Javier Hernandez takes a shot. Blocked by Marc Tierney.

12:34

Foul by Steve Morison on Antonio Valencia, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Antonio Valencia.

11:51

Marc Tierney fouled by Antonio Valencia, the ref awards a free kick. Marc Tierney takes the direct free kick.

11:21

Wayne Rooney produces a cross, Oliveira Anderson takes a shot. Blocked by David Fox.

10:43

A cross is delivered by Luis Nani, Kyle Naughton makes a clearance. Corner taken by Luis Nani from the left by-line, clearance made by Bradley Johnson.

9:20

Unfair challenge on Luis Nani by Bradley Johnson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Darren Fletcher. Effort from long range by Luis Nani goes wide right of the target.

8:38

Wesley Hoolahan takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.

4:24

Short corner taken by David Fox from the right by-line. Bradley Johnson takes a shot. Save by Anders Lindegaard.

3:27

Centre by Luis Nani, Marc Tierney gets a block in.

2:35

Marc Tierney produces a cross. The assistant referee flags for offside against Steve Morison. Indirect free kick taken by Anders Lindegaard.

2:05

Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save by John Ruddy.

0:00

The referee gets the game underway.

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