Lambert looks on the bright side of defeat

Norwich City boss Paul Lambert admitted Premier League football is a cruel business after the Canaries left the Theatre of Dreams pointless.

Lambert insisted his men had passed the ultimate test against the reigning champions on their own turf following a fearless display from his young side.

Anderson and Danny Welbeck secured the victory for the Reds in the final quarter of a thrilling contest.

'I'm gutted for them but I'm not going to be too downhearted,' he said. 'The players are disappointed like everyone else because they knew we had some great chances to score before they did. That is football.

'I thought we played ever so well and we had chances to score before Manchester United.

'You can't keep them out for 90 minutes the way they play the game and with them being at home, but I was as proud as anything. I think for every negative you have to try and look for the positive.

'That is my view on football and there was a load of positives here but the game is about winning. You have to win as many as you can but you must remember the type of team we were playing against.'

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City defended resolutely before the interval with United's deadly predators Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez restricted to sporadic sights on John Ruddy's well-guarded goal. The visitors then boldly carried the fight on the resumption with Anthony Pilkington denied another goal back in the north-west due to a combination of bad luck, brave defending and a right-footed clip that rolled narrowly wide of Anders Lindegaard's left-hand upright after latching onto Antonio Valencia's mistake. City's lone frontman Steve Morison also had two clear sighters of the Dane's goal as Norwich refused to go away meekly.

'That is the game. It's the same all over the world if you don't take them, it can come back to haunt you,' said Lambert.

'There is no blame attached to anyone today because those lads gave me absolutely everything.

'They were running on empty with the heat and against a team that are going to be there or thereabouts – not just domestically but in European football. I think when you come here you have to try and score.

'When you have a chance like that (Pilkington) perhaps it does go through your head that if you come to places like this and you get opportunities you have to take them because as I said before you can't keep them out.'

Anderson pounced for the decisive breakthrough on 68 minutes when City failed to clear a Ryan Giggs corner.

'They took eight off Arsenal here. We were in League One two years ago so I can't fault my players for what they have done,' said Lambert.

'You switch off for the slightest millisecond here and you can get hurt. That is what happens when you go to massive clubs but I never come thinking damage limitation. I think if you do go to a place like this thinking that, that's what can happen. If you sit back, wait, wait then they will eventually score. In the time I've been here we have always tried to get a foothold in the game and try to win it ourselves.'

Giggs was just one of the galaxy of talents populating United's bench alongside the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen – proof if any were needed of City's rapid rise under Lambert.

'You look at their bench and see the names there but that is where we are,' he said.

'They are one of the best teams in Europe – let alone Britain. The magnitude of the club is huge. Sir Alex Ferguson has built it and they are a fabulous club.'