Liverpool snatched the most dramatic of wins in the 95th minute to beat Norwich in a NINE-goal thriller, writes Sam May.
Maybe the team talk collectively from both camps was “let’s play, and first to five wins”. The professional standards of both defenses went missing – and they all could have been playing on the local park with jumpers for goalposts such was the ebb and flow of the game.
The result, 5-4 to the redmen doesn’t tell half the story. There were more twists and turns in this 95 minutes of Premiership Football than any Ski Sunday slalom- with an even tighter finish!
A drab opening 15 minutes belied what was to come. The only excitement in the first encounters was a crunching tackle on Lucas by the ex Everton Naismith. Late and over the top – was it because he was ring rusty having not played for a while, or an old score settled from a Merseyside derby encounter?
On 18 minutes a well-worked move on Liverpool’s left enabled Firmino to scuff a side foot shot in off a post. Firmino and Ibe celebrated with play shooting of guns – I think they shot the defenders of both sides- as the game went into another sphere.
Milner should have made it 2-0 with a one on one but hesitated and the chance was gone. Norwich had a corner – and you guessed it- they scored. A half cleared ball was allowed to bounce on the six yard line- and MBOKANI back healed in through Sakho’s legs – who then through himself to the ground in despair- maybe if he had done this with the ball in play he may have helped keep it out!
Norwich with tails up had success through simple one twos in midfield as Can, Lucas and Milner of Liverpool simply watched on. Naismith made it 2-1 to the home side on 41 minutes as again the Liverpool midfield did what it did best – watch on – to allow the debutant to smash in a low cross shot to Mignolet’s right. Keeper at fault as he was slow to go down to push it away?
Half time came early for Norwich but not early enough for the Anfield side. The second half started as the first – both teams playing as if it was a Saturday morning chore.
Naismith was lively though and found space on the Liverpool left. Moreno caught the wrong side of the attacker dived in and brought him down – penalty surely. No to the surprise of all – including Moreno, who then kicked him again to make sure Lee Mason didn’t miss it this time and the penalty was awarded. Moreno stood arms outstretched as if to say, “what have I done” Crazy defending.
Wes Hoolahan stepped up and tried his best to chip it to Mignolet in the Liverpool goal, but the keeper dived out of the way 3-1 Norwich. Game Over? You must be joking! Within 90 seconds Liverpool were back in it as an unmarked Henderson side footed from 14 yards.
Now Liverpool had the initiative – which was rewarded on 63 minutes when Bassong went walkabout and allowed Lallana who had come on for a subdued Ibe, to cross from the left to Firmino who had time to take a controlling touch before coolly pushing the ball past the on – rushing Rudd to the delight of the travelling Kop. Now it really was game on.
A flurry of substitutions saw Olsen and Jerome for Norwich and Benteke for Liverpool join this crazy game. On 75 minutes Russell Martin the Norwich skipper gifted Milner with a blind back pass, which went straight to the Liverpool man. Milner had learned from his earlier miss and coolly slotted in to the keepers left. Liverpool were in dreamland and the traveling faithful went mental – probably as much as in disbelief – Liverpool were now ahead 3-4.
Surely the class of Liverpool and the organisation practiced on the training ground would now see them see out the game? None of it. The defences of both had forgotten why they were on the pitch. Norwich pressed. Caulker was brought on to protect the back four for Liverpool- he didn’t.
As the fourth official showed 5 minutes added time, and Klopp in deep discussion with the official showing his disgust and disbelief Norwich equalised, and what a strike it was.
Benteke caught offside for the umpteenth time allowed Rudd to pump a hopeful ball forward to the edge of the box. Jerome won it and it bounced to Bassong who had gone up. His left foot sweep rifled the ball into the right corner of the net from 20 yards on 90+2 minutes and Norwich were level 4-4.
Only 3 minutes left, again surely the game wouldn’t have yet another twist? – But it did.
Caulker was pushed up with Benteke. Liverpool pressed. Can put in a left foot hopeful cross, Benteke challenged, Caulkers goal bound shot was blocked, he headed the resulting ricochet forward, Hoolahan headed away desperately but only straight into the path of the onrushing and unmarked Adam Lallana who hit a sweet left foot shot into the ground, and more importantly for Liverpool into the top corner of the net. His shirt now off he ran to Klopp- who was now on the pitch running to Lallana – with all of the Anfield team following suit.
Hugs and high fives all-round. Christian Benteke even managed to break Klopp’s expensive designer glasses in the celebration. Relief, excitement, and disbelief from the Reds, and disbelief and despair for Norwich, and the home fans. There was only time for the restart before Lee Mason brought this craziest of games to an end.
Stating the obvious, Klopp later admitted that they need to learn to defend from set plays and that the defending in his team today was rubbish. The only way he can improve this – is to change the personnel. Mignolet today wasn’t at fault even though four goals were put passed him .The defence let him down. The midfield let the defence down as nobody took charge.
Henderson is not a captain and neither is Milner. They are armband wearers. They are certainly no Stevie G and he is sorely missed as Emre Can also flatters to deceive. Norwich were Kamikaze today. 3-1 at home up having been 1-0 down should have seen them hold their well-earned lead. They didn’t and paid the price.
Post-match Alex Neil – the only Scotsman managing in the Premiership was despondent obviously having thrown away a good lead. He stated “we turned a good performance into a bit of a shambles”. The crest fallen Manager left Carrow Road in angry mood having nothing to show for scoring four goals.
The result leaves both with too many wrongs to put right. Liverpool cannot turn out a similar performance on Tuesday night when they take on Stoke City in the second leg of the Capital One Cup, having won 1-0 at Stoke.
If this Liverpool turns up then it will be Stoke who will make the trip to Wembley. Norwich are in a perilous position – just above the drop zone, and need to tighten up defensively if they are to avoid the drop. Today though the winner was the neutral watching the craziest game ever in the Barclays Premier League.
One to watch, over and over again – but not if your name is Neil or Klopp.