Norwich City 4-5 Liverpool
TIA Man of the Match: Roberto Firmino
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Toure, Sakho, Moreno (Caulker 90′); Lucas, Henderson (Benteke 76′), Can; Milner, Ibe (Lallana 59′), Firmino
Substitutes: Ward, Caulker, Flanagan, Allen, Teixeira, Lallana, Benteke
Norwich City: Rudd; Pinto, Martin, Bassong, Brady; Dorrans, Howson; Redmond (Jarvis 70′), Hoolahan (Olsson 70′), Naismith (Jerome 82′); Mbokani
Substitutes: Ruddy, Jerome, Jarvis, Klose, Mulumbu, Olsson, Odjidja
Adam Lallana’s last-minute strike gave Liverpool an astonishing first Premier League win of 2016 in a nine-goal thriller at Norwich.
Jurgen Klopp’s men had trailed 3-1 with under 30 minutes to go, then led 4-3 before Sebastien Bassong’s stoppage-time strike levelled matters.
But there was still time for substitute Lallana to mishit a shot into the ground and secure a 5-4 victory as Liverpool’s own defensive failings were eclipsed by Norwich’s at Carrow Road.
Klopp celebrated on the pitch with a shirtless Lallana, but there is much work to do if the Reds are to advance to the Capital One Cup final at the expense of Stoke, visitors to Anfield for the semifinal second leg on Tuesday night.
It had looked like new signing Steven Naismith would be an instant hero for the Canaries after Dieumerci Mbokani cancelled out Roberto Firmino’s opener with a brilliant backheel.
Naismith struck again to give the Canaries a 2-1 half-time lead.
Poor defending allowed Norwich to further extend their advantage when Alberto Moreno felled Naismith in the box and Wes Hoolahan converted the resulting penalty.
Hoolahan made no mistake from 12 yards to put Norwich 3-1 ahead, but their two-goal advantage was short-lived as Liverpool skipper Henderson pulled one back 96 seconds later.
A right-wing cross from Nathaniel Clyne was flicked by Firmino onto his captain, Henderson expertly sweeping the ball past Rudd.
Liverpool were level in the 63rd minute when Firmino calmly lifted the ball over the advancing Rudd for his second of the afternoon, and Milner then capitalised on a dreadful backpass from Russell Martin to race clear and put the visitors ahead.
The contrast in emotion on the touchline was as pronounced as anything the season has delivered so far and Norwich – who could be in the bottom three by the end of the day – will have to recover before Tuesday’s trip to Tottenham.
Their record now stands at 32 Premier League games without a win in matches where they have fallen behind – but few will sting like this.
The first five shots on target in this game found the net and neither side could claim to have deserved a win, with each guilty of lapses which at times led to chaos and resulted in just the fourth 5-4 result in Premier League history.
Russell Martin will feel worse than most after gifting Milner the chance to put Liverpool 4-3 up with a weak backpass.
And though Bassong’s crisp strike from 20 yards appeared to have reprieved his fellow defender, substitute Lallana’s first league goal of the season capped a frenzied finish.
“When you concede five goals you deserve to lose the game,” concluded Norwich boss Alex Neil after the match.
The Scot admitted defensive errors have been his side’s “downfall” this season and the 43 goals they have leaked in 23 games paints a damning picture – and only Sunderland (45) have let in more.
However, the performance of Naismith at the other end does offer something positive to take forward.
Making his debut alongside full-back Ivo Pinto – who had a tough afternoon – Naismith showed quality throughout.
He managed 18 goals in 52 league starts at Everton but may need to adopt the role of talisman rather than impact substitute at Norwich if they are to survive.
That said, they have now conceded 11 goals in three games – a stat which must improve if any Naismith contribution is to prove telling.
Facts of match
- Steven Naismith has now scored his first Premier League goal for both Everton and Norwich against Liverpool.
- Liverpool have conceded from their first shot on target faced in all four of their Premier League games in 2016.
- The Canaries have conceded a league-high 21 Premier League goals in the last half hour of games this season, six more than any other team.
- This is only the third time in Premier League history that Liverpool have recovered from two goals behind to win an away game – also against Man City in October 2008 and Fulham in October 2004.
Norwich City manager Alex Neil: “We were the architects of our own downfall. When you score four goals and don’t win, it’s a big problem. It’s really frustrating. We had the game in our hands but it turned into a bit of a shambles.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “We were deserved winners in a spectacular game. But it is crazy what we are doing there [at set-pieces] we have to solve this problem because it is not always possible to score five goals.”