Norwich City reach last 16 of League Cup, and goals galore as Liverpool eviscerate Canaries
This was a week of two halves for Norwich City. On Wednesday evening Hughton picked a much changed side which not only beat Doncaster Rovers 1-0 and advanced the club to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup, but both kept a clean sheet and secured a home match with Spurs in the next round.
Before the game there was a moment’s silence in tribute to former City manager John Bond. For this tie the Canaries had several players making their first team debuts this season, and other fringe players were given a chance to show what they could do. They lined up; Bunn, Elliott Bennett, Ryan Bennett, Ward, Tierney, Butterfield, Tettey, Fox, Chris Martin, Holt, and Kane.
The team had clearly been ordered to shoot on sight in an attempt to remedy the paucity of goals for this season, and Kane, Tierney, Holt, Butterfield and Tettey all missed with long range efforts. The goal came in the 26th minute when Tettey took a pass from Holt and scored with a spectacular curling shot from 25 yards out. During the second half Hoolahan and Jackson came on for Kane and Chris Martin, but the Canaries failed to add to their score. This is the first time City have reached the last 16 of the League Cup since 1995-96. Job done in front of a crowd of nearly 14,000. One step nearer Wembley, and I felt that John Bond would have approved, and was applauding silently from the sky. RIP Bondy, a great character and a great servant of our club.
On Saturday there was a minute’s applause for Bond before the game. To their credit the Liverpool fans joined in enthusiastically, and to the credit of the Norwich fans there were no songs about victims, murderers, Hillsborough, or whose fault it was. This time Hughton rang the changes and City recalled Ruddy, Russell Martin, Turner (in place of the injured Bassong), Garrido, Barnett, Johnson, Howson, Surman, Snodgrass, Jackson, and Morison. The Liverpool team included a smattering of young players as manager Rodgers continued his rebuilding process.
Whatever game plan the Canaries had hatched to contain Liverpool became irrelevant after just one minute when Glen Johnson raced down the wing and squared for Suarez to squeeze in a shot between Ruddy and the post. Suarez might have had a penalty minutes afterwards after clashing with Barnett, but after 38 minutes he scored a second after dispossessing Turner. So 2-0 at the interval.
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Holt replaced Jackson at half-time, much to the displeasure of the home support who were appreciative of the effort Jacko had put in. City threatened briefly but Surman’s shot hit Snodgrass and soared over the bar. Suarez caused havoc in the City penalty box yet again, and when given a second bite at the cherry squared the ball nicely for Sahin to sidefoot home. Ten minutes later Hoolahan joined the fray to tumultuous applause in place of Surman, but almost immediately Suarez completed his hat trick by curling a right foot shot past Ruddy. Not to be outdone, Russell Martin fired in a powerful shot that Reina could only palm out, and Morison drove home the rebound for his first goal of the current campaign.
The action was coming thick and fast now. Sterling ran through on the right wing, and his cross was met by Gerrard, whose shot took a wicked deflection off Barnett to give Ruddy no chance. Three minutes from time Holt too opened his account for the season when he placed a shot precisely into the corner of the goal.
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So at the final whistle Liverpool had beaten Norwich 5-2 and a thoroughly comprehensive and well deserved victory it was too. Make no mistake, the Canaries were outplayed by a better team. Luis Suarez may be rebarbative for a number of reasons, but he proved on Saturday that he is an excellent player with clinical finishing ability.
Brendan Rogers put his faith in youth, and they responded with the sort of performance which he must have been praying for. Maybe Hansen was wrong; maybe Rogers will win something with kids. He certainly will not win many admirers for Liverpool’s new away strip, which managed to combine orange, purple and blue. Yes it looked as bad as it sounds. What would have been wrong with Liverpool playing in their traditional red strip?
Both sides went into Saturday’s game without a win to their names this season. City are still winless and firmly ensconced in the relegation places. Looking on the bright side at least Holt and Morison got off the mark, and City doubled their goal tally for the season. Unfortunately it was defensive frailties which cost us. Bassong was sorely missed in the centre of the defence. At least three of the Liverpool goals were preventable.
Would John Bond have approved? He would certainly have approved of the goals and the drama. No one could say that the game was not an exciting spectacle. I suspect he would approve even more if the Canaries and their manager can silence their growing number of doubters and critics by getting a result at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. That would be a perfect occasion to register our first win of the season. I shall be there with other Capital Canaries willing them to win. Come on you Yellows! Or maybe Come on you All Blacks! if we too are wearing our new away strip.