Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Liverpool 1 Norwich 1

This game began like it ended, with Liverpool players’ heads in their hands. After just two minutes Martin Skrtel thumped a header against the bar; deep in stoppage time John Ruddy pulled off a remarkable save from Luis Suárez’s volley. In between came 27 more attempts at goal by Liverpool, two of which hit the woodwork, one via another extraordinary save from Ruddy.

Norwich showed courage, even when they were left sucking for air as wave after wave of Liverpool attacks rolled over them. “We were a bit frightened in the first half,” said manager Paul Lambert. “They put us under immense pressure.”

What is remarkable about Norwich is the tenacity with which they stuck to their own style. Even when Liverpool were piling into them at the death, they kept trying to pass their way out of difficulty. Considering that every member of the team was playing outside the Premier League last season it showed admirable self-belief.

What Liverpool could not believe was that this game ended all-square. Kenny Dalglish was gracious towards Norwich and he was right to say that they “will play a lot worse and get three points” but Liverpool fans do not need reminding that the last time they seriously competed for the title in 2008-09, their challenge was undermined by home draws against Fulham, West Ham, Hull and Stoke. Come the end of the season, these dropped points could prove similarly expensive.

Dalglish had certainly sent out a team to try to roll over Norwich and, in the first 20 minutes, that is exactly what appeared to be happening. With Craig Bellamy scampering down the left and Stewart Downing cutting in from the right, Liverpool were playing an all out 4-2-4 at times.

Playing into the Kop, the chances came thick and fast. Suárez was causing chaos but his finishing was erratic and, when he did get his shot on target – such as a side-footed effort from a Bellamy pass, Ruddy went hurtling through the air to deny him, pushing the ball on to the post.

Norwich did manage to break out of their own half after the initial barrage, with Steve Morrison’s aerial ability proving tricky for Jamie Carragher and Skrtel but Liverpool were soon back on the front foot, with Suárez missing two more decent chances.

Just when Norwich thought they had made it to half-time, Bellamy struck. José Enrique played a ball into Suárez who got the wrong side of Russell Martin. The pair tangled but referee Peter Walton played the advantage. The ball hit Martin and dropped for Bellamy who, when he finally hit his shot, saw the ball ricochet off Marc Tierney and into the net.

Soon after the break, Liverpool hit the woodwork for a third time. Suárez spun with his first touch, then shifted past Leon Barnett’s lunge but saw his attempt deflect off Martin and onto the post.

There was only one way this game seemed to be going when Lambert made a bold substitution which changed the game. On came the burly Grant Holt, to partner Morison in a physically intimidating strike pairing.

After just five minutes on the field, Holt equalised. Anthony Pilkington’s cross tempted Reina off his line and with Holt getting above Carragher, the Norwich striker headed into an empty net.

Holt might even have scored a second, his far-post header well saved by Reina moments later. From then on, though, Liverpool pushed in search of the winner. In their hurry they made a few bad decisions: Suárez should have squared for Gerrard instead of shooting, Dirk Kuyt shot when substitute Andy Carroll was better placed.

A contentious decision raised the noise levels inside Anfield. Charlie Adam was somehow punished for being well tackled by Barnett in the area while Suárez appeared to be tripped by Tierney as he tried to break clear.

Then came the game’s dramatic finale. In stoppage time, Carroll sent a header wide of the near post after Gerrard had picked him out and then Suárez met the ball with a crisp volley to which Ruddy got a flailing glove. “That was a world-class save,” Lambert said. “I hear England are looking at him and they could do a lot worse.”

Liverpool must be relieved they don’t have to play him every week.

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