Norwich City 2, Liverpool 5
17:15 29 September 2012
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Luis Suarez produced another Carrow Road hat-trick as Norwich City were swept aside by Liverpool, conceding five goals for the second time this season.
The Uruguayan international, who bagged a treble in the corresponding fixture last season, scored three more and might have had four or five as Brendan Rodgers’ team romped to their first league victory of the campaign and left Chris Hughton’s Canaries still searching for theirs.
Steve Morison and Grant Holt each scored their first goals of the season for City but it gave the scoreline a rather flattering look, for the home side were chasing shadows for much of the afternoon and looked ill-equipped to take three points off anyone in the near future.
The tone for the afternoon was set as early as the second minute when Suarez had far too much time to squeeze a shot past goalkeeper John Ruddy.
He might have had a penalty when he went down under challenge from defender Leon Barnett and Suarez missed a golden chance before adding his second goal on 38 minutes, beating Ruddy again after Michael Turner was caught in possession.
Within seconds of the restart, City’s Andrew Surman had a goalbound shot diverted over the bar by a team-mate, but they were swiftly made to pay after 47 minutes when Suarez set up Nuri Sahin for goal number three.
Suarez completed his hat-trick 10 minutes later with another clinical finish and it was hardly any consolation for the Canaries on the hour when Steve Morison reduced the arrears with his first goal of the season after Russell Martin’s shot was fumbled by goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Midway through the half, however, it was 5-1 as Steven Gerrard’s shot took a wicked deflection off Barnett.
Half-time substitute Grant Holt also bagged his first goal of the campaign with a cool finish three minutes from time to give the scoreline a touch more respectability, but there was no disguising the fact that City had been hammered for the second time in six Premier League games.
Hughton made two changes to the side that started the 1-0 defeat at Newcastle six days earlier. Turner replaced defender Sebastien Bassong, ruled out by a hamstring injury, while Wes Hoolahan was dropped to the bench with Simeon Jackson brought in to partner Steve Morison up front.
Midweek goalscorer Alex Tettey was named among the substitutes, with Elliott Bennett also on the bench after returning from injury in the Capital One Cup victory over Doncaster.
Liverpool showed three changes from the 2-1 Premier League home defeat by Manchester United with a debut in defence for Andre Wisdom and places for midfielders Sahin and Jesus Fernandez Saez, otherwise known as Suso.
Before kick-off, a minute’s applause was held in tribute to former City manager John Bond following his death at the age of 79.
Liverpool, wearing not their traditional red but a hideous purple, orange and white away kit, kicked off in bright sunshine attacking the Barclay goal, which meant the sun was in City keeper Ruddy’s eyes.
It was not the reason, however, that the Canaries fell behind after just 67 seconds, Suarez adding to his Carrow Road hat-trick from five months earlier with a goal in the first attack of the game.
Glen Johnson made rapid progress down the left before finding Suarez just inside the Norwich area and the Uruguayan was given far too much space and time to run parallel with the edge of the box before squeezing a right-foot shot past Barnett’s outstretched leg and beyond Ruddy just inside the post.
Agger headed over from a free-kick moments later, under pressure from Russell Martin, as Liverpool looked to increase their lead.
In the eighth minute, there was almost an equaliser as Russell Martin fired across the area and Jackson struck a first time effort that Reina did well to keep out.
Skrtel was very lucky to escape punishment for barging Garrido into the hoardings behind the River End goal and the full-back needed attention before he was able to continue.
Midway through the half, Liverpool felt they should have had a penalty as Suarez went down under challenge from Barnett, who appeared to catch the striker’s shoulder with his elbow, but referee Jones was unimpressed.
With 25 minutes gone, Jackson raised the temperature when he volleyed over after Morison nodded back a cross from Garrido.
Wisdom needed attention for a cut after ducking low to head the ball and catching Surman’s boot in the head.
Ruddy produced a splendid save to keep City in contention after 33 minutes when he kept out a header from Gerrard at point-blank range after Suarez created the chance by floating the perfect ball into his captain’s path.
At the other end, Jackson deflected a Johnson shot wide, though the flag was up for offside, and Surman had a powerful shot blocked as City at last sparked into life.
It was almost 2-0 after 37 minutes when Agger strode through the Norwich ranks and played the perfect ball through to Suarez, but the striker missed an easy chance, sidefooting wide as Ruddy closed him down.
Suarez was still being treated to the crowd’s derision, however, when less than a minute later he made it 2-0. Turner, getting caught in possession as he tried to control Garrido’s pass, handed the Uruguayan a slightly less simple opening but he made no mistake this time as he beat Ruddy with the outside of his right foot.
Barnett was booked a minute later for a foul on Suarez as City continued to chase shadows.
• Half-time: Norwich City 0, Liverpool 2
Hughton made a change at half-time by bringing on Holt for Jackson and City should have pulled a goal back in the opening seconds.
Morison did splendidly tight on the byline and his cross beyond the far post was met by a Surman volley that seemed certain to go in but was diverted over the top by Snodgrass from a yard out.
City paid the price less than two minutes into the half when they went three goals down.
It looked as if Suarez may complete his hat-trick as he burst into the left side of the penalty area but he chose to cross and Garrido only succeeded in diverting the ball back to Suarez whose second low cross was sidefooted home by Sahin.
The Canaries might have cut the deficit following a Surman corner when Holt’s shot was blocked by Johnson – leading to appeals for handball – and rebounded for Surman, who somehow screwed his shot across the face of the goal when it seemed much easier to hit the target.
Bradley Johnson fired over from long range as City continued to try to force their way back into the match.
Ten minutes into the half, Hoolahan was sent on in place of Surman, to huge cheers, but any remote hope of a fightback was extinguished on 57 minutes when Suarez completed his hat-trick. The angle did not look promising but he curled a brilliant right-foot shot out of reach of Ruddy.
Liverpool made their first change after 59 minutes when Assaidi was sent on for Suso, but two minutes later, the Canaries reduced the deficit through Morison’s first goal of the season.
Russell Martin struck a powerful shot that Reina fumbled horribly and Morison pounced to drill the rebound home.
Henderson replaced Sahin as Liverpool made another change after 66 minutes, and two minutes later it was 5-1.
A slip by Garrido allowed Sterling to run clear on the right and his low cross was met with a shot from Gerrard that took a sharp deflection off Barnett, giving Ruddy no chance.
Suarez might have had his fourth when he wriggled through and struck the side netting, and shell-shocked City were struggling to get the ball at all at this stage.
Liverpool’s last change came when Carragher replaced Glen Johnson.
With 11 minutes left, Tettey was introduced for his Premier League debut, Morison making way.
Three minutes from time, a good finish by substitute Holt gave him his first goal of the season as Howson’s clever pass left Skrtel floundering and the striker beat Reina with a well-placed shot.
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Barnett, Turner, Garrido; Snodgrass, Howson, Bradley Johnson, Surman (Hoolahan, 55); Morison (Tettey, 79), Jackson (Holt, 45). Subs (not used): Bunn, Tierney, Ryan Bennett, Elliott Bennett.
• Liverpool: Reina, Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger; Suso (Assaidi, 59), Gerrard, Allen, Glen Johnson (Carragher, 74); Sahin (Henderson, 66); Suarez, Sterling. Subs: (not used) Jones, Coates, Downing, Borini.
• Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
• Attendance : 26,831
• Goals: City: Morison (61), Holt (87). Liverpool: Suarez (2, 38, 57), Sahin (47), Gerrard (68)
• Bookings: City: Barnett (39)