REPORT: LIVERPOOL 5-1 CITYNORWICH City were on the wrong end of another Luis Suarez masterclass at Anfield as they fell to a 5-1 defeat on Wednesday night.
The Uruguayan striker scored four and set up Raheem Sterling for the Reds' fifth in an extraordinary individual display in the clubs' Premier League meeting.
City were much improved after the break and netted through the influential Bradley Johnson with a glancing header in the closing stages.
Suarez became the first Premier League player to score three hat-tricks against the same team as he inflicted yet more misery on the Canaries.
Chris Hughton made one change to the team that beat Crystal Palace at Carrow Road on Saturday, with the goalscorer from that match Gary Hooper being left out – Bradley Johnson came in as his replacement to shore up the midfield.
Liverpool made three alterations from their surprise 3-1 reverse to Hull City at the weekend, with Philippe Coutinho returning to the fray. Suarez started up front.
City made a positive start with Leroy Fer sitting in a deeper midfield position – Jonny Howson powering a shot just over the bar on the two-minute mark.
Some sloppy work in possession let Coutinho in on six minutes and City had skipper Sebastien Bassong to thank with a well-timed block, before Wes Hoolahan’s trickery at the other end led to an effort that Simon Mignolet saved easily.
Nathan Redmond was then on hand to block a Glen Johnson drive, before a moment of magic from Suarez gave Liverpool the lead on the quarter hour.
The Uruguayan picked up the ball in a seemingly unthreatening position 35 yards out, but after allowing it to bounce once he unleashed an incredible effort that looped over a helpless Ruddy into the far corner.
It was Suarez’s eighth goal against the Canaries and left Reds boss Brendan Rodgers applauding in admiration alongside raucous cheering from the home support.
City’s heads didn’t drop and Johnson produced a superb pass on 25 minutes to feed Hoolahan at the back post, but the Republic of Ireland international couldn’t quite get a clean connection.
Liverpool’s second on 29 minutes was much more preventable from the Canaries’ point of view.
Coutinho’s corner was nothing special but somehow it made its way into the six-yard box where a grateful Suarez was on hand to steer the ball home.
Johnson, one of City’s better performers in the opening half, drilled a left-footed drive just wide soon after, and the combative midfielder then earned a free-kick 20 yards after being felled by Joe Allen.
Redmond took the set-piece but it was a comfortable hold for Mignolet, but the hammer blow was dealt moments later as Suarez became the first Premier League player to score three hat-tricks against the same club in stunning fashion.
The rampant forward flicked the ball around Leroy Fer, before delaying his shot – finally firing a half volley past Ruddy into the right corner and taking the adulation of the Kop.
HALF-TIME: Liverpool 3-0 Norwich City
Hughton opted to not make any changes at the break, and on 49 minutes they could have scored – Bassong should have done better when rising to meet Redmond’s free-kick, his header going well over.
City escaped on 52 when Steven Gerrard’s stooping header was swept away from danger by Ryan Bennett, and Ruddy extended himself expertly to deny Allen’s swerving shot from distance on 58.
Redmond pulled an effort wide before Hughton introduced Josh Murphy to try and push some momentum into his side’s play – the Academy product replaced Hoolahan.
Ruddy was on hand once more to parry a Suarez effort from a narrow angle wide on 63, and then he easily collected a Gerrard moments later.
Liverpool’s performance was certainly less potent in the second period and as a result City were having more plays in the home team’s half, if not fashioning clear-cut opportunities.
Their fourth goal came from a set-piece with fifteen minutes left on the clock – Russell Martin was adjudged to have fouled Gerrard, and that man Suarez curled in from 25 yards.
Gerrard then powered wide after a brilliant move as Liverpool searched for a fifth, but up the other end the effervescent Redmond again proved City’s main outlet, poking an effort wide after being picked out by Johnson.
Johnson then capped a solid individual display in the middle of the park with City’s goal – the former Leeds man rose to flick home Redmond’s excellent cross into the far corner.
Liverpool regained control though, and after Gerrard had found the post with an audacious volley on the turn, they got their fifth two minutes from time.
This time Suarez turned provided, squaring to Sterling who finished clinically past Ruddy - with the Uruguayan's final bow a standing ovation in the final minute as he was replaced by Iago Aspas.
FULL-TIME: Liverpool 5-1 Norwich City
GOALS: Liverpool: Luis Suarez (15, 29, 35, 74), Raheem Sterling (88) – Norwich City: Bradley Johnson (83)
LIVERPOOL: Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Flanagan; Allen, Gerrard (c); Henderson (Alberto 69), Coutinho, Sterling; Suarez (Aspas 90). Subs not used: Jones (GK), Toure, Moses, Sakho, Lucas.
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Martin, R Bennett, Bassong (c), Olsson; Fer (Whittaker 72), Johnson, Howson; Hoolahan (Josh Murphy 62), Redmond, Elmander (Hooper 69). Subs not used: Nash (GK), Turner, Garrido, Becchio.