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

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence