The Uruguayan bagged a quickfire double in the first half before a moment of pure inspiration late on put the icing on the cake of a very comfortable win for the RedsA maiden hat-trick by Luis Suarez, sealed in some style with a 45-yard effort, was enough for Liverpool to comfortably see off Norwich City and maintain eighth place in the Premier League.
A lacklustre opening period was pierced by Suarez twice in quick succession, first profiting from Steven Gerrard’s smart interception and pass to coolly strike, then capitalising on an Elliott Ward mistake before unerringly depositing home.
Norwich were improved but unpenetrative in the second half and Suarez killed the game with a sensational long-range chip from just inside the opposition half.
Paul Lambert reverted to one up front, with Grant Holt dropping to the bench and Steve Morison leading the line, with David Fox, Anthony Pilkington and Bradley Johnson also returning in a five-man midfield.
|LUIS SUAREZ | PLAYER RATING
"The Uruguayan bagged a simply brilliant hat-trick. His chances may have come courtesy of Norwich mistakes but he still had plenty to do in order to take advantage of them, his first finish in particular superbly taken on his left foot. Saved his best, though, for last, chipping Ruddy from just inside the Norwich half to complete a wonderful treble."
Norwich immediately lost Adam Drury to a groin injury but it took until the 17th minute for anyone to find a chance in a very slow start. Suarez advanced down the inside-left channel and aimed a pass towards the far post, but Stewart Downing was wrong-footed and clumsily failed to control his touch.
Midway through the half, the drabness was suddenly punctured by Suarez. Gerrard made the chance, pouncing on the lax Fox and playing the Uruguayan through the middle, who dispatched a left-footed effort with little fuss.
In a quick follow-up, the Reds broke forward again, with Gerrard this time the man trying to pull the trigger from the edge of the area, but Ryan Bennett deflected it away from danger.
Suarez capitalised again shortly after on another defensive lapse from the hosts, Elliott Ward meekly letting the forward dart past him on the Liverpool right. The 25-year-old arrived at the corner of the box and took aim, finishing with the utmost precision.
Liverpool kept pushing the wounded Norwich and wanted a penalty when Ward appeared to hold Suarez back in the area, but Mark Halsey turned it down. The centre-back was booked shortly after as the Uruguayan cleverly played it past him, having been let in by another loose ball, this time from Ryan Bennett.
Five minutes after half-time the Canaries finally had their first shot, Elliott Bennett producing a slightly swerving long-range effort that Pepe Reina turned away.
The Reds pushed back the next minute, though. Downing cut the ball back for Suarez in the area, the forward’s shot ricocheting into the path of Shelvey, who nodded it against the bar.
The youngster was involved again straight away and should have made it three as he arrived in the middle to reach a delivery from the left but, from a very small distance, he slipped slightly on the wet pitch and hit it glaringly wide.
Norwich were growing into the match, Morison firing wide with a deflection before Elliott Bennett again tried his luck, this time failing to get it on target.
Suarez might have killed them off, though, if he had elected to shoot conventionally rather than flamboyantly chip over when he made space with a perfect nutmeg to bypass Ryan Bennett.
Half-time substitute James Vaughan nearly made him regret the miss, too, when he turned and fired not far past the post, whilst Ryan Bennett's more physical counter was to heftily and blatantly crash into the forward, perhaps lucky only to be booked.
Vaughan caused trouble again when, having sought a gap to shoot from outside the area, he played in Russell Martin on the right. The full-back's cross was a good one but the former Everton striker stretched and nodded waywardly.
As Norwich bustled ineffectively, though, Liverpool broke, with Suarez nabbing the ball on the halfway line and, spying Ruddy slightly off his line, launching an inch-perfect shot from an enormous distance to put the finishing touch on his first hat-trick for the Reds and a convincing three points, keeping Dalglish's side two behind Everton in the table.
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