Manchester United have surrendered top spot in the Premier League to Manchester City, after a surprisingly poor performance and a 1-0 defeat to Norwich City at Carrow Road. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was understandably dissatisfied with the way his side played and admitted Chris Hughton and the Canaries deserved the win.
"We're disappointed to lose the game but we have to give credit to Norwich for the way they fought and battled for every ball on the pitch. They defended fantastically well and the goalkeeper also had a really good night so it's disappointing," Ferguson said after the game.
Norwich, who are now 13th in the league (14 points from 12 games), scored the only goal of the game when former Manchester City defender Javier Garrido's cross from the left was headed into the far corner by Anthony Pilkington. The 24-year-old Blackburn-born winger gave United keeper Anders Lindegaard no chance to react or make a save.
"It was a marvellous cross and a marvellous touch for their goal so our goalkeeper could do nothing about that. They deserved the win just because they worked so hard for it. The players are used to making comebacks and we're always a threat in the last minutes of matches. We had a lot of half-chances but it just wasn't our night," the Scot added.
In United's defence, they were without star striker Wayne Rooney. The England international was also dropped by national team coach Roy Hodgson for the midweek friendly against Sweden, but Ferguson told the club's website he was hopeful the former Everton striker would be ready for Tuesday's Champions League game at Galatasaray in Turkey.
However, the defeat was still a poor performance. United did start with top scorer Robin van Persie, Mexican youngster Javier Hernandez, Antonio Valencia and the English-Welsh duo of Ashley Young and Ryan Giggs up front, with Anderson, Paul Scholes and Danny Welbeck coming on in the second half.
Meanwhile, this defeat by Norwich means the Red Devils drop to second in the league, a point behind Manchester City; the defending champions recorded a thumping 5-0 home win over Aston Villa to overtake United on goal difference as well as points.