A stubborn Norwich City side were beaten 1-0 by league leaders Liverpool at Carrow Road on Saturday thanks to substitute Sadio Mane’s late winner.
Daniel Farke opted to select the same starting eleven that had drawn 0-0 with Newcastle United prior to the winter break, Ben Godfrey returning to the bench the only change following his suspension.
There might have been 55 points separating the two sides ahead of kick-off, but Carrow Road was bouncing as Trent Alexander-Arnold shot wide within the first minute.
The visitors were dominant in the game’s opening exchanges, but City weathered the early storms from Liverpool and Dennis with Kenny McLean showing particular appetite to get on the ball and drive the Canaries forward.
City were forced into an early change just shy of the half-hour mark, however, as Jamal Lewis came on for the injured Sam Byram.
With the Reds still looking to assert their authority, it was Naby Keita who had the next notable effort with a left-footed volley from distance trickling wide in the 33rd minute.
Norwich’s most presentable chance in the first half came when a long, aerial pass from McLean picked out Lukas Rupp behind the Liverpool backline. The January signing found himself in acres of space but opted to give Teemu Pukki the chance to open the scoring instead of going for goal himself.
Either way, Alisson smothered, and the danger was cleared, before replays showed that Rupp was marginally offside regardless.
Trent continued to look dangerous from distance, shooting wide from outside the box following a couple of cleared deliveries with half-time beckoning, before a free-kick was caught comfortably by Tim Krul.
In truth, while City invited Liverpool’s press onto them, clear cut chances never materialised for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the opening 45, despite their dominance of the possession statistics.
City had the first effort after the interval, Todd Cantwell shooting into the side netting from a narrow angle after some lovely linkup play on the right with Rupp and Max Aarons.
Krul was called into action four times just before the hour mark. He tipped over the bar from a Keita long-ranger, gathering the resulting corner’s Van Dijk header easily. The Dutchman between the sticks then made a spectacular double save, first to deny Mohamed Salah who had taken the ball down inside the 18-yard-box, and then showing excellent reflexes to prevent Keita on the rebound.
With City proving a tough nut to crack, Klopp turned to Fabinho and Mane to replaced Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain respectively.
The noise inside Carrow Road intensified around the 72nd minute, as Alexander Tettey was urged to shoot when he found himself teeing up a shot from distance. It looked like the chance had passed him by, but he actually did pull the trigger and smashed the ball onto Alisson’s near post.
City had a couple of corners thereafter, as the belief in the ground began to grow that an opening goal could belong to the home side. It amounted to naught, however, as Mane scored for the visitors moments later.
Gathering an aerial delivery into the 18-yard-box, Mane took the ball down with his first touch well, before swivelling and smashing in a volley with his left-foot.
Farke introduced Emiliano Buendia and Josip Drmic to the pitch with just over five minutes to play, Rupp and Tettey making way as City sought a late equaliser.
Roberto Firmino had a chance to put the result firmly beyond doubt when Trent drilled a deadly cross into him in the 86th minute, but the Brazilian’s cushioned effort went over the bar.
Pukki almost had the equaliser when Buendia set him up in the 89th minute, but the Finnish forward took his shot early and sent it straight at Alisson.
City failed to find the goal they desperately craved, as a battling display against the Champions League winners wasn’t quite enough.
Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Hanley (C), Zimmermann, Byram (Lewis 26’), Tettey (Drmic 83’), Rupp (Buendia 83’), McLean, Duda, Cantwell, Pukki
Unused substitutes: Fahrmann, Godfrey, Vrancic, Hernandez
Booked: Hanley (41’)
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Keita (Milner 84’), Wijnaldum (Fabinho 60’), Henderson (C), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Mane 60’), Firmino, Salah
Unused substitutes: Adrian, Lovren, Lallana, Origi
Goals: Mane (78’)
Booked: Keita (83’), Mane (90’)
Venue: Carrow Road
Half time: 0-0
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Today’s Golden Goal time was:
1st Goal: 77:05
Lucky Number 0714