Masterclass from Suarez ends the wait

Norwich City 2 Liverpool 5

When it finally arrived, at the sixth time of asking, it came powerfully, thrillingly and without ambiguity. It was first league win of the Brendan Rodgers era at Liverpool. It felt as if the drought was over and the dam had burst, such was the relaxed fluency of their football and the sense of relief at the end that Norwich City had been swamped.

This was a comprehensive and deserved win, and a demonstration of what Rodgers' Liverpool are meant to look like. The attacking football was fluid and confident, driven through the middle by Nuri Sahin, flanked by teenagers Jesus "Suso" Fernandez and Raheem Sterling, and culminating, thrillingly, in the brilliance of Luis Suarez.

Whatever Liverpool achieve under Rodgers, Suarez will be crucial to it. Five months ago, under Kenny Dalglish, he scored a remarkable hat-trick here, climaxing in a lob from the half-way line. Even after a summer of change, under a different manager, with different team-mates, he was just as compelling yesterday. Suarez scored three, made another and should have been awarded a penalty.

"I remember his goals last year," Rodgers said afterwards, "but this was a masterclass in finishing. It was a special day for him, for him and for us. The quality of our game and play was very, very good."

It took 68 seconds for Suarez to assert himself. Glen Johnson ran down the left and tried to play in Sahin, breaking forward. The ball came back to Suarez on the edge of the box. A perfect judge of space around him, he held off Leon Barnett, spun and shot into the near bottom corner.

"We knew before the game we were up against a Liverpool team in good form," said Chris Hughton, who must have known at 1-0 it was going to be a difficult afternoon. "You cannot afford to give them the opportunities. We came up against Suarez at his most clinical. We made life very difficult for ourselves."

This was not the same Norwich defence as that 3-0 defeat five months ago. It was not Ryan Bennett and Elliot Ward at centre-back yesterday, but Barnett and Michael Turner. But the test was the same and the bafflement was the same and so were the futile solutions.

Barnett's next attempt at stopping Suarez was desperate, clumsy and strangely unpunished. Suarez ran onto a goal-kick, Barnett ran into Suarez. It was an obvious foul. Some referees, though, are less keen to give Suarez penalties than others and Mike Jones decided against it.

"It was a stonewall penalty," said Rodgers. "I feel for the guy, everyone in the ground knew it was a penalty."

Pressing from the front is important to Rodgers, and it soon brought Liverpool's second. Turner was unaware when Suarez stole the ball from him. Suarez spun, put the ball through Turner's legs and curled it into the far bottom corner. The fact that he had missed a much easier chance one minute before did not bother him, as Rodgers observed: "He doesn't get disappointed."

Norwich needed a quick goal after half-time. When the ball fell to Robert Snodgrass two feet from goal, it should have come, but, somehow, Snodgrass bounced the ball over the bar with his thigh. One minute later the game ended as a contest.

Sterling, the quickest player on the pitch, surged through the middle on the break.

He passed left to Suarez, who had his first cross blocked but found Sahin with his second. Sahin was unmarked and finished easily.

Another 10 easy minutes later, Sahin repaid the courtesy. He rolled the ball to Suarez on his left, Russell Martin stood off him and Suarez curled the ball into the corner for his third of the day and his sixth here this year.

There was still time for Pepe Reina to spill a shot for Steve Morison to pull one back before Steven Gerrard's deflected shot made it 5-1.

The final 20 minutes were – Grant Holt's consolation aside – a Joe Allen-orchestrated exercise in keep-ball, to the joy of the travelling Liverpool fans.

They sang for and applauded Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, the two most important men in the club's recent past. But they sang louder for Rodgers and Suarez, the two most important men in the club's immediate future.

Norwich City (4-4-2): Ruddy; Martin, Barnett, Garrido; Snodgrass, Howson, B Johnson, Surman (Hoolahan, 55); Jackson (Holt, h-t), Morison (Tetty, 79)

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, G. Johnson (Carragher, 73); Gerrard, Allen; Suso (Assaidi, 59), Sahin (Henderson, 66), Sterling; Suarez

Man of the match: Suarez (Liverpool)

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Mike Jones

Man of the match: Fellaini (Everton)

Match rating: 7/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent