Yaya Toure’s late penalty kept Manchester City on top of the Premier League as they secured a dramatic 2-1 victory over Norwich on Saturday.
Nicolas Otamendi looked to have put Manuel Pellegrini’s side on course for victory when he powered in a header from Kevin De Bruyne’s corner midway through the second half.
City goalkeeper Joe Hart stumbled backwards as he tried to gather a Robbie Brady cross, allowing Cameron Jerome to tap in an equaliser with seven minutes left.
But Pellegrini’s side grabbed the win in the closing minutes as Russell Martin handled Raheem Sterling’s goalbound shot and was sent off, before Toure drove in the resulting penalty.
Aleksandar Kolarov missed a second penalty in stoppage-time, but City did enough to stay ahead of Arsenal on goal difference as they prepare for a crucial Champions League Group D trip to Sevilla on Tuesday.
Norwich slipped to a fourth successive league defeat, but turned in a much better performance than they did in losing 7-0 on their last visit to Eastlands two years ago.
In an attempt to halt their losing run, Norwich manager Alex Neil fielded a back five supported by four in midfield with Jerome asked to play as a lone striker.
For a long time, the plan succeeded in frustrating a City side who had scored 18 goals in their previous four home matches.
Kelechi Iheanacho, given his first league start in attack, showed some nice touches but was only rarely able to threaten, and was replaced by Sterling early in the second half.
His strike partner Wilfried Bony did get closer to goal, with an early shot on the turn beaten out by John Ruddy.
Lack of Composure
Norwich did create the odd first-half chance themselves, with Sebastien Bassong glancing a Matt Jarvis cross wide under pressure from Hart after the home side had struggled to clear a corner.
Bony, asked to shoulder City’s goalscoring burden in the continuing absence of hamstring injury victim Sergio Aguero, twice blasted wide with good chances when a little composure might have been more effective.
Hart needed to tip over a fierce shot from Jarvis, who broke well on to Brady’s pass, but Pellegrini’s team ended the half on top.
Ruddy turned aside a Toure free-kick and captain Vincent Kompany heading wide from De Bruyne’s corner.
Bony was left appealing unsuccessfully for a penalty early in the second half as he went down under a Bassong challenge.
Sterling’s pace on the break did give the home side an added threat once he came on, with one burst upfield ending as he played in Jesus Navas, who set up Toure to bend a shot wide.
But it was thanks to a centre-back that they finally broke through, as Otamendi powered in his first City goal with an unstoppable header.
Bony nearly added a second moments later, bundling Bacary Sagna’s cross just wide.
But with seven minutes left, Hart dropped a Brady cross right at the feet of Jerome, who turned the loose ball into the net for the equaliser.
There was further drama to come, with two City penalties in the closing minutes.
First Ruddy fumbled a Navas cross, was caught out of position as he chased the loose ball and saw Sterling’s shot handled by Martin.
With the Norwich captain dismissed, Toure lashed in the penalty.
Deep into stoppage-time, Sterling broke into the area and was fouled by Brady but, with Toure having been substituted, Kolarov blasted the penalty wide with the last kick of the game.