By Tom Maston at Anfield
With Anfield emptying as home supporters aimed to beat the post-match traffic, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers decided to give those still inside the ground the opportunity to show their appreciation to Luis Suarez by substituting the striker. The fact that a less-than full stadium was still able to create the loudest cheer of the evening says much about the performance of the Uruguayan.
With seven goals in his previous three appearances against Norwich, the Canaries defence knew they would be in for a difficult night, but not even Chris Hughton and his side could have prepared themselves for the attacking masterclass they were about to witness from Suarez.
Missing strike partner Daniel Sturridge, he was lively from the outset, running at the visiting defence and looking to bring others into play at every opportunity. When it became clear that many in the Liverpool line-up were lacking any composure, he began to take it upon himself to deliver the goods.
Hitting a bouncing ball from 40 yards past the hapless John Ruddy 15 minutes in set the tone for the evening, and when he jinked past three Norwich defenders to register his hat-trick ten minutes from half-time the whole stadium was reverberating to the home fan’s very own version of Depeche Mode’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. Urged to shoot by the home faithful whenever he found himself in possession, his first half display was a one-man show akin to nothing the Premier League has seen since Cristiano Ronaldo was strutting his stuff down the M62.
VIEW FROM ANFIELD
By Tom Maston
"One name was on everyone's lips at Anfield after Luis Suarez lit up a chilly evening in Liverpool. The Uruguayan was simply unstoppable as he scored four, including three Goal of the Season contenders.
"Anyone who doubted he would miss strike partner Daniel Sturridge were certainly put to rights by this showing, though tougher defences than that of Norwich City will face up to the striker in the coming weeks. For now, however, he looks unstoppable."
His first stunning long range effort brought the 44,541 strong crowd to their feet just as frustration was beginning to set in. Misplaced passes and shakes of the head from Rodgers were a common occurrence.
Suarez changed all that with one swing of his magical right boot. The team performance was by no means vintage, but when a world-class talent takes control of a match they can be very difficult to stop.
His second strike was by no means as dramatic, but equally as effective, sweeping home a low corner to again send the home fans into raptures. Not every strike needs to be replayed time after time, and though Suarez has an eye for the spectacular, his striking nature as a fox in the box remains.
By the time his wonderfully crafted third went in there was anticipation in the air with every touch. A delicate flick over Leroy Fer before a vicious strike from the edge of the box had even the most ardent Norwich fan purring. When the free-kick that brought him his fourth crashed into the top corner there was an expectation he would score with every touch.
Not many players are given a standing ovation at half-time. But when Suarez - naturally the final man to leave the field at the break - made his way down the tunnel, those who had foregone beating the queues for a cup of tea showed their admiration for a quite extraordinary display.
Rodgers called it a “remarkable individual performance,” in his post-match press conference. On very few occasions can such a rave review be dubbed an understatement. This may well be one of them.
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