Audio: Anthony Pilkington admits disappointment at Norwich City defending
It was a shocking start for the Canaries as the Premier League champions led 2-0 after just four minutes – and it threatened their hosts with another Carrow Road thrashing from the blue half of Manchester.
Thankfully Anthony Pilkington's deflected 15th minute free-kick went a long way to settling down the Canaries, providing a platform for what proved to be a seven-goal thriller and a fitting way to round off Norwich's 2012 schedule.
It was the winger's fourth goal of the campaign – and another profitable set-piece from Chris Hughton's men.
But it wasn't enough to ease the pain of the opening exchanges and a lethal start instigated by Edin Dzeko's brace, even though Samir Nasri disappeared for a early bath after his dismissal as half-time approached.
'We are disappointed – I thought we had a chance there to get a point at least, if not all three,' said Pilkington. 'We started really poorly and then we had a mountain to climb.
You may also want to watch:
'The sending off lifted us as well as the goal, but from our point of view we think we've conceded some sloppy goals that were avoidable so we are disappointed. But it does show how far the club has come because they were champions and last year they turned us over here.
'They started at one hell of a tempo and we started poorly, but it was a different game after that. It was them attack, we attack, especially in the second half. So it is a tough one for us because we are a bit disappointed.
- 1 'Vindicated at last' - Pension compensation on the horizon for WASPI women
- 2 Sky broadband issues across Norfolk and Suffolk resolved
- 3 Drug dealer walks free from court for his 145th offence
- 4 Body of man in 20s found at nature reserve near Norwich
- 5 'Is this a wind up?' - Artist's shock as Delia buys 101 of his paintings
- 6 Clean-up operation begins as town 'flooded completely' by heavy rain
- 7 Shocked couple told statue used as doorstop could be worth £1m
- 8 New 20mph speed cameras to tackle NDR rat-runners
- 9 Watch: Woman left bleeding and bruised after e-scooter crash
- 10 Church with 'features to get excited about' for sale for £80,000
'I don't know why we didn't start well. It's just one of those things. I think the last four or five games we have started really well and here we were caught out early. And like I say, we think it's avoidable.'
Nasri's red card was a clear post-match talking point, earned for a headbutt movement as the Frenchman squared up to Canaries centre-back Sebastien Bassong following his strong but fair challenge on the winger.
'I think he had a few of his lads behind him but I'm sure he would have done it if he hadn't been on a football pitch,' smiled Pilkington at Nasri's attempts to confront Bassong.
'I couldn't actually see it but I think Nasri has put his head into Seb's and the linesman has seen it, not the referee. I was concentrating on the tackle, but I didn't think it was a foul to be honest. I thought Seb won the ball and maybe lifted his leg up as he came through. But the surface was really wet out there and I think it all could have been avoided really.'
And as far as Pilkington was concerned, that A-word could also be applied to some of the Canaries' defending on show.
'The goals we think are avoidable, most of them anyway,' he added. 'They are poor goals on our part and we'll probably look at that before we go into the game on Tuesday and look at tightening things up.
'We are disappointed with the goals we have conceded and not to come away from today with anything.'
Pilkington added: 'It's been really tough. In the last three games we have played West Bromwich who are flying at home and played them away from home, and then we've had to play the European champions and the defending Premier League champions.
'So it just shows you how tough this league is. We came in off the back of a 10-game unbeaten run and we've now been beaten in the last three. They've been really tough games and they come thick and fast, so we have got to pick ourselves up and go again on Tuesday at West Ham.'