Dove Magazine

Liverpool let lead slip to Norwich as Martin cancels Danny Ings’ opener

Russell Martin had driven through the night to attend the birth of his son in Norfolk, caught a plane back to Merseyside with Delia Smith and other Norwich City directors shortly before kick-off and then, after a sleepless 24 hours, scored to give Alex Neil’s team a merited point at Anfield. Yet it was Liverpool who laboured and their supporters who were taken to the point of exhaustion.

Liverpool’s returning striker Daniel Sturridge cannot hide his frustration after John Ruddy holds firm in the Norwich City goal. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

Liverpool’s returning striker Daniel Sturridge cannot hide his frustration after John Ruddy holds firm in the Norwich City goal. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

Half-hearted boos rang from the Kop on the final whistle after Brendan Rodgers’ desperate wait for a victory extended to a fifth game. Familiar failings undermined a display that was an improvement on recent offerings, a low benchmark admittedly. Weak goalkeeping from Simon Mignolet and a lack of concentration at a set piece enabled the Norwich captain to equalise Danny Ings’ first goal for his new club, while poor finishing and fine goalkeeping prevented Liverpool adding a second for the 18th time in their past 20 outings. Anfield’s patience is being stretched.

Ings’ tireless, aggressive contribution as a second-half substitute was the main plus for Rodgers but, despite changing personnel and formation, and the return of Daniel Sturridge, his wait for the return of Liverpool’s identity goes on. Norwich were composed, well-drilled and, though indebted to John Ruddy on occasions, well worth their point on the road.

“We created enough chances to win the game,” the Liverpool manager lamented. “That disappoints but the most disappointing factor was the goal.

“That was their first corner. We lost concentration and Russell Martin hooks it in. That shouldn’t happen but there were a lot more positives from the game. Today was a step forward for us in terms of the creativity and hopefully progress will come from that.”

Anfield was flat, the opening half-hour especially so, but it would have been much worse for Rodgers had the referee, Anthony Taylor, applied the strict letter of the law and dismissed James Milner after four minutes.

Liverpool’s captain in the absence of the injured Jordan Henderson received an early booking for a foul on Cameron Jerome and then tumbled theatrically inside the Norwich area having evaded a challenge from Robbie Brady. Taylor did not fall for Milner’s attempt to win a penalty nor did he book the midfielder for a dive that prompted a furious response from Brady. The polite interpretation was that Taylor adjudged Brady’s tackle to have affected Milner’s balance and gave the England international the benefit of the doubt. Or he just avoided making a huge call.

Neil said: “If you are going by the letter of the law, then it may have been the case [for a second yellow card] but I would be really disappointed if my player had been sent off for that. It would have been harsh.”

Sturridge’s first start since 8 April and the overdue selection of Mamadou Sakho in place of Dejan Lovren enthused the home crowd more than Liverpool’s first-half display. Despite his touch being inevitably rusty after so long out, Sturridge’s pace and movement brought more intent to Liverpool’s game, although Philippe Coutinho was often strangely overlooked in the No10 role. Sakho followed his performance in Bordeaux with another accomplished outing as Norwich enjoyed sustained spells in the final third without seriously testing Mignolet until their equaliser.

Liverpool were slow in possession until the introduction of Ings for Christian Benteke, nursing a tight hamstring, sparked some urgency. Ings’ running and alertness suited the home side’s approach better than their £32.5m summer signing from Aston Villa and, within three minutes of entering the fray, the former Burnley forward had his first Liverpool goal.

Martin played his team into trouble with a careless pass to Alberto Moreno, who swept a first-time ball over the top. Ings had read the Spaniard’s intentions perfectly; taking the ball on his chest, the 23-year-old ran clear of Sébastien Bassong and rolled a fine finish under the otherwise commanding Ruddy.

It should have been the platform that Liverpool craved. Instead they handed Norwich an equaliser when Mignolet made a hash of dealing with a Brady corner and allowed Martin to atone for his earlier error. The Liverpool keeper came for the cross but punched weakly to the visiting defender who lofted a cool shot over the stranded Belgian. Matt Jarvis should have edged Neil’s men ahead but shot straight at Mignolet from close range and Coutinho squandered a glorious chance when sent clear by Emre Can. The Brazilian was caught in two minds as Bassong backed off to cover Ings and ultimately he sent a poor shot straight at the Norwich keeper.

Neil said: “I am pleased not just with the result but with the performance too. We were brave, we tried to put our foot on the ball and play out from the back. You need to ride your luck at a place like this and rely on your goalkeeper who made some great saves, but we could have nicked it at the end when Matt Jarvis had his chance. I thought we deserved the draw.” – the guardian –

Man of the match John Ruddy (Norwich City)

 

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