The Welsh legend’s goal ensured a fairytale finish to his special day and kept United within two points of league leaders City.
Substitute Ashley Young delivered an in-swinging cross from the left, which Giggs met at the far post, poking the ball in between Ruddy and the upright with his left foot, before racing to celebrate the goal with the United fans packed in the away end.
Norwich will feel sorry for themselves has they had looked to have earned a fully deserved draw courtesy of Grant Holt’s fantastic finish six minutes from time, but this was another impressive performance by Paul Lambert’s men.
Jones and Evra partnered Evans and Ferdinand at the back, with DeGea in goal.
Norwich have arguably been one of the stories of the season and looked to provide a stern test of United’s title credentials, but it was the visitors that had the better in the early stages of the game.
After just seven minutes, Nani’s cross from the right caused havoc in the Canaries’ defence as Paul Scholes was allowed to run unmarked at the far post for the simplest of headers.
The veteran midfielder was rolling back the years with another excellent performance following his return from retirement, partnered in midfield by the brilliant Michael Carrick.
United could have had a second minutes later, when some brilliant interplay between Welbeck, Nani and Hernandez saw the Mexican square the ball for Welbeck, whose effort was brilliantly saved by Ruddy.
United were guilty to take their foot off the pedal, allowing the home side into the game but they were rescued by an excellent David DeGea.
Rock solid when tested by high balls, the Spaniard denied Norwich twice within minutes with half an hour gone in the first half.
Pilkington had looked set to score after being played through by a brilliant ball over the top from Kyle Naughton, only for DeGea to save with his right leg outstretched.
Hernandez wasted a good opportunity to double the lead as his shot lacked power to trouble Ruddy after yet more good work from Welbeck.
United took control of the tempo in the second half and looked to close the game down, but Giggs could only flick the ball against the bar from close range.
Ferguson then replaced Hernandez with Young, moving Giggs closer to Welbeck, but Norwich looked threatening, despite excellent performances by Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans at the heart of the United back four.
The game remained dangerously poised for Ferguson’s men and when Holt controlled a loose ball before turning and smashing a ferocious left footed strike into the top corner, Norwich looked to have denied United.
The Welshman was having none of it, however, as he got on the end of Ashley Young’s cross to fire home the winner.
Today’s result might well prove a pivotal day in the title race and should United retain the title, a large slice of it would be down to Ryan Giggs’ late winner on a day where he marked his 900th appearance for the club.
Some things are just meant to be.