A SECOND hat-trick at Norwich in consecutive seasons by Luis Suarez helped Liverpool on their way to a comprehensive 5-2 victory over City in the Barclays Premier League.
Suarez took just 72 seconds to open his account and went on to complete a devastating treble, with a goal from Nuri Sahin and a deflected effort from Steve Gerrard ensuring a disappointing day for the majority of a packed Carrow Road.
The only positives City could take from a very tough day at the office was that both Steve Morison and Grant Holt scored their first goals of the season in the second half – but it was Liverpool’s day as they grabbed their first win of the season to leave City still searching for theirs.
After the match City boss Chris Hughton told Canaries Player: "It's a disappointing performance. We're on the back of a decent run where we've been playing well enough to win matches albeit we haven't, but we've been solid enough.
"You can't afford to give Liverpool and a striker as clinical as Suarez was today, that space and opportunities, because you'll come unstuck and we did big time today.
"We did ourselves no favours by conceding so early in the game, and that put us on the back-foot. You can't make the errors that we made either.
"It's tough when you're down, because you have to change things to get back into the game. It was a clinical attacking display from them, and a poor defensive display from us."
Hughton made two changes to the team which started last Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Newcastle, with Simeon Jackson coming in for Wes Hoolahan and Michael Turner replacing the injured Sebastien Bassong.
After an immaculately observed minute’s applause in memory of former Canary boss John Bond, the game started in spectacular fashion with a goal after only 72 seconds.
It went to visitors Liverpool as a slow-starting City defence gave Suarez too much time on the edge of the box and the Uruguayan took a couple of touches before slotting home a precise effort from 18 yards.
A shell-shocked City tried to hit back and were denied an equaliser by a good reaction save from Reina, blocking Jackson’s shot in the eighth minute.
The game entered a quiet phase and the next chance of note didn’t arrive until the 25th minute, when Jackson volleyed just high and wide after a good move involving Javier Garrido and Morison.
In the 32nd minute Ruddy made an excellent reaction parry to keep out a diving header from Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, getting on the end of a useful ball into the box from Suarez.
At the other end Reina made a smart save low to his right to turn another Jackson effort around the post – but the flag was raised for offside anyway against the Canadian international striker.
City fans enjoyed a glaring miss from Suarez in the 37th minute when he was through one-on-one with Ruddy only to shoot horribly wide. But they silenced inside a minute as the Uruguayan robbed Turner and curled home a sumptuous effort into the far corner with the outside of his boot to make it 2-0.
Half-time: Norwich City 0, Liverpool 2
Hughton made a change at half-time as Grant Holt came on to replace Simeon Jackson.
City made a bright start and almost pulled one back inside a minute of the restart as Surman’s cross-shot struck Snodgrass a yard or so from goal and the ball somehow ballooned over the bar.
But within a minute they were undone as Liverpool countered and after Suarez had a shot blocked he picked up the ball and passed into the six-yard area for Sahin to slot home a third for the Reds.
Meanwhile the Canaries’ attacking frustrations continued as they carved out another chance in the 52nd minute following a scramble in the Liverpool box, ending with a shot from Surman which sliced across goal and wide of the far post.
City made a second change in the 55th minute as Hoolahan came on to replace Surman – but within a minute they were 4-0 down as Suarez curled home an excellent shot to complete his second consecutive hat-trick at Carrow Road.
At the other end Bradley Johnson hit a piledriver just wide for City but it was very much a one-sided affair at this stage with Liverpool looking very comfortable for their lead.
But City did at last find the net on the hour when a fierce drive from Russell Martin was spilled by Reina and Morison tucked the rebound into the corner of the net to make it 4-1.
The Canaries’ brief revival was just that though and they were 5-1 down after 67 minutes, when Liverpool skipper Steve Gerrard’s shot found the back of the net courtesy of a cruel deflection off Barnett which left Ruddy totally wrong-footed.
City did manage to score again in the 87th minute, Skrtel’s missed clearance allowing Holt to nip in and curl home a sweet shot low into the corner to make it 5-2.
Full-time: City 2, Liverpool 5
CITY: Ruddy, Martin (c), Johnson, Turner, Snodgrass, Howson, Jackson (Holt 46), Surman (Hoolahan 55), Morison (Tettey 78), Garrido, Barnett. Subs not used: Bunn, E.Bennett, Tierney, R.Bennett.
LIVERPOOL: Reina, Johnson (Carragher 72), Sahin (Henderson 66), Agger, Suarez, Gerrard (c), Allen, Suso, Sterling, Skrtel, Wisdom. Subs not used: Jones, Assaidi, Coates, Downing, Borini.
Referee: Mike Jones