Audio: Norwich City’s John Ruddy says late Liverpool save was special
Birthday boy John Ruddy acknowledged it felt special to pull off the injury-time save that booked Norwich City a superb point at Premier League big guns Liverpool.
With only seconds remaining of four added minutes at Anfield, Uruguayan international Luis Suarez swivelled to catch a sweet volley that seemed destined to break Canary hearts.
That was until the City number one reacted with a flying arm to tip the effort over the bar and earn Paul Lambert’s Canaries the point their bravery and endeavour more than deserved.
“He struck it well to be fair and he’s taken it early as well, but it wasn’t as if it was in the top corner,” said the modest keeper, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Monday. “It still had to be made, and after the way the lads had worked in front of me, to do that for them really is special for me and we can take a lot of positives out of this game.
“It was a good job too because that cross before, I had my heart in my mouth a little bit. I’ve gone up for it and probably just stayed in the air a little too long and misjudged it, but I got away with that one.
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“And then the free-kick at the end they have taken it quickly and Suarez managed to get a shot off, but that’s what I’m there for.
“The lads in front of me worked their so-and-so’s off for 90 minutes and as long as I can keep doing stuff like that, we’ll be absolutely fine because the lads in front of me are superb.
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“You’re not expected to come to places like Anfield and get anything. It was definitely a hard-fought point but a point we thoroughly deserved I felt.”
City defended admirably – and at times benefited from Reds profligacy and the odd rub of the green – against a home side clearly not treating their visitors lightly.
Indeed, Ruddy’s tip on to the post from Suarez’s first-half effort was just as impressive as his late save.
Ex-City star Craig Bellamy deservedly put Liverpool ahead seconds before the half-time whistle – but it was substitute Grant Holt who levelled things within minutes of coming off the bench after a wonderful leap on the hour, thanks to Anthony Pilkington’s superb centre.
“They came right out of the traps at us and it startled us a little bit to be fair,” said Ruddy.
“Obviously we turned them round to put them in front of the Kop first half, and they seemed vitalised by that. They created a lot of chances. To concede – and when we did as well – was a bitter blow but we came out in the second half and we were a different team. We really showed what we were about.
“I think we were all disappointed with the way we performed in the first half, we probably sat back a bit too much and let them come on to us. But the second half we really put it to them.
“Although they did still have some chances, I thought we had more chances in the second half and probably put them on the back foot more than they did us.
“We said at half-time if we are going to play like that again in the second half we might as well just roll over and let them score four or five.
“But that’s not what we’re about. The team spirit in the squad and the desire to do well for each other is up there – it’s the best I’ve ever seen.
“I think to put in a performance like that in the second half shows what great character we have got in the dressing room.”
Liverpool produced 25 shots at Ruddy’s goal in Saturday’s late kick-off – with season-high 11 of them from Suarez – in a game that tested City in a way Chelsea and Manchester United had not managed on home soil.
“I think in terms of chances the other teams have created, it was the most in the firing line I’ve felt,” said Ruddy.
“No other team has really opened us up, but the front two were in a different gear. Suarez is strong and his movement is very good.
“But for all the chances they did create, our defenders did very well against a very good front line and the rest of the lads – against arguably one of the best midfield player in the world in Gerrard and another very good player in Charlie Adam – competed well and didn’t really give them the time they wanted.
“All over the pitch we were superb second half.”
The result left City seventh in the table on Saturday night – with Arsenal overtaking them on Sunday – and Ruddy added: “It’s great, but the main aim is just to stay in this league, as it is for almost every team. You can’t afford to come out and we’re doing our utmost to make sure we stay in it.
“We’d take one above the relegation zone at the end of the season, as long as we’re in this league. Anything above that is a bonus, but if we keep playing like we are at the moment we’ll be fine.”