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Pilkington knocks on Trap door as super header sinks United

NORWICH midfielder Anthony Pilkington sent a clear message to Giovanni Trapattoni on Saturday night with a match-winning performance against Manchester United.

Pilkington spoke with Ireland goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly last week and is expected to join up with the Irish team in 2013.

The Red Devils couldn't break through a rock-solid City defence, and when Pilkington's sensational header put Chris Hughton's side in front, the 19-times league champions were unable to respond as they have done on numerous occasions this season.

"I think we're unbeaten in six now and heading in the right direction, and the lads are doing well," Pilkington said.

"It doesn't come any better. They're a massive, massive club, and probably the biggest in the world, so to get the three points against them is great.

"I knew Javier Garrido was going to whip the ball in so I just tried to get across my man and close my eyes! I got on the end of it and luckily it went in the top corner.

"Heading isn't my strong point, it's one of my weaknesses, but if it goes in the back of the net I'm not going to complain."

The result sees the Canaries pick up their third consecutive clean sheet, and stretches their unbeaten run to six games in all competitions - something that has now seen them rise to 13th position in the league.

Pilkington added: "The lads put in a great shift, they always do, whoever we play. They work their socks off, and it's a massive result. I'm sure the fans have gone home happy tonight.

"We're unbeaten and it's another clean sheet. We're all working hard to go in the right direction, and thankfully we're picking up points now.

"The results recently show what we're all about. We've got a great squad in there and everyone believed right from the start even when we weren't picking up points.


"We knew we had a great squad and we could win games and that's what we're doing now. The gaffer has told us to believe in ourselves and we are."

United may be struggling for form in the Premier League, but Michael Carrick has no intention of spending the week trying to work out who they might end up with in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

United are in the happy position of knowing their status as group winners is already assured with two games remaining.

It means Alex Ferguson could rest players for tomorrow night's encounter with Galatasaray in Istanbul, although Saturday's unexpected setback at Norwich may have revised those plans.

In addition, it means United can observe key meetings elsewhere - including Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester - from a detached perspective.

But Carrick sees no merit in working out the best way for results to fall.

"You can drive yourself mad thinking about who you might get and all the various permutations," he said.

"We just have to win our games, which we have done, and see what the draw gives us. Whoever it is, we will be ready in February."

In recent years, United have done rather well in the knockout stages of the competition too, reaching three finals, a semi-final and a quarter-final on the last five occasions they have progressed to the knockout stage.

"That is the big test," said Carrick. "That is when the competition really comes alive."