x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

High five as Liverpool thrash Norwich City at Anfield

Daniel Sturridge on score sheet on his Anfield debut as the home side crush Norwich.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates after his sides fourth goal, of five, against Norwich City. Phil Noble / Reuters
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates after his sides fourth goal, of five, against Norwich City. Phil Noble / Reuters
LIVERPOOL // When Brendan Rodgers signed Daniel Sturridge, he cited pace as one of the striker's major attributes and he has certainly been quick off the mark.
Three Liverpool games have brought as many goals and a place in the club's record books.
Sturridge's Anfield debut brought Liverpool's biggest win under Brendan Rodgers and him a spot alongside Ray Kennedy in their history.
The triple European Cup winner, signed on the final day of Bill Shankly's long reign in 1974, was the last newcomer to score on each of his first three appearances.
Against contrasting opposition in Mansfield, Manchester United and Norwich City, the £12 million (Dh69.9m) signing from Chelsea has emulated him. Sturridge has started superbly.
It is no coincidence that having finally bolstered their forward line, Liverpool are proving more prolific.
A strike partnership was all but impossible in the three months when Luis Suarez was the lone attacker available. Now Liverpool have one and they are a duo with an immediate, encouraging understanding.
"They linked very well," said Rodgers. "Suarez has been incredible for us for this season but we have now got a recognised goalscorer up alongside him. It gives them someone else to really worry about. They were both on the score sheet, which is great."
They were joined by Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard and Norwich's Ryan Bennett, who put the ball in to his own net.
It meant pressure and possession were converted into goals and Norwich, their favourite opponents, were thrashed.
Liverpool have scored 10 times against the Canaries this season. Suarez, who notched their second yesterday, now has seven in three games against them.
Yet the latest was a goal that said more about Sturridge that the one he did score. It showed that Liverpool's quicksilver forwards are kindred spirits.
Officially the assist for Suarez's 20th goal of the season goes to Lucas Leiva. Yet it was made by Sturridge who, when the Brazilian picked him out, spotted Suarez sprinted past him and dummied, allowing the ball to run through for the Uruguayan to steer his shot past Mark Bunn.
"It was a wonderful demonstration of how players can link together," Rodgers said. "It was great vision from Daniel."
It doubled Liverpool's lead. Sturridge was signed to be a scorer but while Henderson is another expensive English addition, the similarities end there.
The £16m midfielder had been derided and disparaged for much of his Liverpool career. He was unwanted in August, offered to Fulham in part-exchange. But having remained at Anfield, he is being rehabilitated.
A wonderful strike was evidence of the ability he showed too rarely in a difficult first year at Anfield.
When Elliott Bennett challenged Suarez, the ball spun towards Henderson. It sat up invitingly for the sweetest of shots, hooked past Bunn from 20 yards.
"What a strike it was," Rodgers said. A second fierce long-range strike was saved by Bunn, but proof of his technique nonetheless.
"We have been beaten by a very, very good side," said Chris Hughton, the Norwich manager. "They were clinical in everything they did."
And as snow blew around Anfield in the second half, the floodgates opened. Liverpool scored three goals in 15 minutes as Norwich capitulated.
First Henderson picked out Stewart Downing with a cross-field ball. His volleyed cross was placed perfectly to give Sturridge a tap in to maintain his goal-a-game return.
Then Steven Gerrard, proving prolific after a barren start to the season, unleashed a shot that nestled in the net when picked out by Glen Johnson, to provide him with a reward for another authoritative performance.
"He used every club in his bag," Rodgers said. "He was phenomenal."
As Sturridge went off to a standing ovation, Raheem Sterling was introduced and the substitute's low cross was turned into his own net by Bennett.
It was a five-goal hammering for Norwich and a fifth defeat in six games.
"We weren't good enough," said Hughton. "We have to be better than that."
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