Liverpool jumped out to a 2-0 lead only to see Norwich City come back and cut the gap to 2-1. The Reds scored to make it 3-1 only to have the Birdinhos make it close 3-2. In the end Liverpool hung on for a wild and thrilling 3-2 win. The Reds are five points clear of second place Chelsea.
Liverpool and Chelsea have a huge encounter next Sunday at Anfield. Raheem Sterling started the Reds off on the right foot with a strike in the fourth minute. Luis Suarez scored in the eleventh minute for a quick two nil lead. It stayed that way until Gary Hooper tickled the twines in the 54th minute to give the Canaries some hope. This made it 2-1. Sterling added his second gal in the 62nd minute to complete his daily double. The reds lead three one. Robert Snodgrass close range header in the 77th minute creped the Birdinhos to 3-2. It was nut-cutting time the rest of the way as Norwich City applied the pressure but couldn’t get the final goal for the tie.
This was a huge road win for Liverpool at the Birdinhos house. The Reds are in the catbird seat with 80 points. Chelsea is second with 75 and Man Shitty is third 71 points however the Citizens will play late today and we will see if they win or not.
The Guardian’s Simon Burnton summed the match up this way on their live report- “and relax. A wild, intense second-half, from which we learned two things: 1) Norwich could still get the points they need for probable safety, even with their ludicrous fixture list; 2) Liverpool need serious squad-strengthening sharpish. Allen came in and did well, Lucas was less impressive, and Moses didn’t contribute much once he came off the bench. This isn’t news, but it is a worry – there are still three results to claim, two of them without Henderson. Eleven wins on the spin suggests an unstoppable force; successive desperate stoppage-time narrow-victory-protecting rearguard actions do not.
Henry Winter The Telegraph- “If the sign of champions elect is grinding out wins, showing strength of mind to resist pressure, standing tall in the face of a storm, then Liverpool moved even closer to their first title since 1990. They can almost touch the trophy now.
Nobody said it would be easy for Liverpool. Nobody said it would be a procession, even with the wobbles of Chelsea and Manchester City in recent days. Norwich City, fighting hard for survival, were never going to be obliging hosts for Steven Gerrard and company. Inspired by Robert Snodgrass, Norwich made Liverpool sweat for the victory that takes them five points clear of Chelsea with three games remaining.
Liverpool led early through Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez, conceded to Gary Hooper, but restored their two-goal edge through Sterling’s second deflected strike. When the tireless Snodgrass then headed in with 13 minutes remaining, Liverpool were clinging on before matching a club record of a sixth successive away league win. Gerrard steadied them and the final whistle was greeted rapturously by the Liverpool fans.
They had been singing “poetry in motion” early on. Within four minutes, Liverpool fans were also singing about the league. Chelsea’s surprising defeat by Sunderland, and the rattled behaviour of Jose Mourinho and his back-room staff, had delighted the Liverpool supporters. So did their team’s start.
Sterling was magnificent, scoring with a wonderful finish. Even the deflection off Michael Turner could not detract from the majesty of Sterling’s touch and movement, cutting in from the left, taking a couple of touches to guide the ball past Bradley Johnson. Sterling’s next touch sent the ball flying past John Ruddy, albeit via Turner, for his eighth league goal of the season. Sterling immediately raced to Rodgers, leaping into his manager’s arms, a sign of gratitude for that inspiring guidance earlier in the season.
Sterling then played the creator after 11 minutes, crossing from the left for Suarez, who was running in, adjusting his body to meet the ball to deadliest effect. The Uruguayan cleverly turned the ball across Ruddy and in. Suarez’s 12th goal against Norwich in five games was his 30th league goal of the season, matching Ian Rush’s return in 86-87.
The record books were updated all game. Sterling’s strike broke Liverpool’s record for 56 first-half goals set in 1895-96. Liverpool have now found the mark in 25 successive league games, equalling their top-flight record set between April-December 1933 and March-December 2001. Only Southampton (at Anfield) and Arsenal (at the Emirates) have stopped Liverpool from netting in a league game this season.
Norwich had their first-half chances, Hooper heading over, and the lively Nathan Redmond testing Simon Mignolet but Liverpool were so in control. Such is Liverpool’s commitment to the possession, and they enjoyed the ball’s company for two-thirds of the opening half, that Mignolet and Jon Flanagan calmly passed the ball around Hooper to launch another attack. Martin Skrtel was in typically imposing mood for almost an hour.
Gerrard was sitting in front of the back-four, taking the ball off the centre-halves, building moves. Liverpool initially did not seem handicapped by the absence of the suspended Jordan Henderson or the injured Daniel Sturridge. Joe Allen delivered one of his best displays in a Liverpool shirt, passing and moving, a force in both boxes, repelling an attack one moment and then speeding forward to bring a good save from Ruddy.
For 45 minutes, there was movement and menace all over. Philippe Coutinho was on the left but moving inside, linking and creating. Lucas was tucked in on the right. The full-backs, Glen Johnson and the left-sided Flanagan, helped provide the width. Sterling’s movement particularly bemused Norwich. It was not simply the speed which had Norwich players diving in to vacated space, Sterling having spirited the ball away. It was the intelligence of Sterling’s movement, the youngster appearing everywhere in the final third, collecting the ball, turning and running at Norwich.
Suarez was Suarez, the PFA Player of the Year in waiting, the most prolific goalscorer amongst the leading leagues in Europe, such a constant whirl of technique and movement that Norwich’s players risked dizziness. Some lost their self-restraint. Snodgrass clattered Allen. Turner caught Sterling.
The pause for half-time slowed Liverpool’s momentum. They needed to kill off Norwich, who were fighting for their lives. Sterling wasted a superb chance, shooting over from Coutinho’s cut-back. Norwich refused to yield, charging forward, chasing hope. Skrtel headed clear from Hooper. Gerrard emerged briefly hobbling from a block-tackle on Redmond.
Norwich broke through after 54 minutes. Mignolet has never fully convinced dealing with crosses this season, and he faltered under pressure from Bradley Johnson. The ball fell to Hooper, who stroked home his first goal in 17 hours and 23 minutes.
This surely would be a test of Liverpool’s character. Norwich fans were raucous, believing that they could get back into this game, that they could stay up. Rodgers switched to 4-3-3, pushing Sterling wide. The England youngster briefly soothed Liverpool’s nerves after 62 minutes, seizing a loose ball from Bradley Johnson and accelerating 50 yards through the middle. Johnson managed to cover back but his attempted interception merely diverted Sterling’s shot, sending it looping over Ruddy.
Norwich never gave up. Martin headed a Snodgrass corner over. Their fans kept believing, kept railing against injustice. Norwich fans were furious at the way Suarez responded to a Leroy Fer challenge, rolling around, clutching his ankle, before realizing the move was going on and jumping up, fully recovered.
Norwich scored again with 13 minutes left. Again, Liverpool looked vulnerable under the aerial ball and this time Snodgrass swooped, heading in at the far-post.
The managers made their moves. Neil Adams sent on Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Josh Murphy. Rodgers, seeking to absorb Norwich pressure, went to a back-five. Allen came off for Daniel Agger. Yet even with the extra centre-half, Liverpool still lacked conviction at the back. Redmond’s cross was missed by Mamadou Sakho, presenting Van Wolfswinkel with a glorious chance but he headed straight at Mignolet.
Liverpool celebrated a victory rooted in grit and determination. Chelsea now visit Anfield next weekend in the middle of their Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid. It will be interesting to see whether Mourinho rests any of his stars for the second leg. The Premier League trophy is surely destined for Anfield.
This is it from Bobby Gee in The De Futebol Zone.