City boss Paul Lambert admitted he was “proud” of his team, after substitute Grant Holt – making his 100th appearance in a yellow shirt – gave the Canaries a magnificent point at Anfield this evening.
Norwich were outstanding in the second-half, after Liverpool dominated the opening period, but they had John Ruddy to thank after the ‘keeper made a world class save from the lively Luis Suarez in the dying moments. Even though City rode their luck at times, however, it would have been cruel had they not claimed a share of the spoils in the end.
The Reds took the lead in first-half stoppage time through former City trainee Craig Bellamy but the Norfolk club levelled the contest with a trademark Holt header on 60 minutes and it was as brave a performance as you’ll see.
While Norwich were nervy and at times, negative, in their last Premier League adventure, this time around they are gutsy, determined and fearless.
And Lambert was clearly delighted with his team’s showing at one of world football’s famous grounds. Oh, and another thing, the Canaries are up to seventh. Not a bad day, all in all.
“What we’ve done at this football club has been huge,” the Scot told BBC Radio Norfolk. “To come to Anfield, with the history and tradition surrounding this football club, and to play the way we did means I’m delighted.
“Those players in the dressing room have been colossal. We’ve got to remember what we’re up against here but we’re thriving on it; we’re enjoying it and I’m proud of them.
“But we’ll go one game at a time. I never get too up or too down but at the moment, with the way we’re playing, we’re certainly a match for teams.”
The home side flew out of the traps and to be brutally honest, they could have been 3-0 up with just 11 minutes gone, with Suarez in particular proving a real nuisance.
There were barely two minutes on the clock when Martin Skrtel headed a corner onto the Canary bar and just three minutes later, the ever-impressive Suarez turned the defence inside out on the edge of the box to set himself free. His shot, however, was wide of the City goal.
On 11 minutes a superb crossfield ball from Charlie Adam found former Norwich hero Bellamy, whose neat pass was met by that man Suarez again. This time, his effort looked to be headed goalwards, only for Ruddy to make a stunning save onto the post.
After a nervy opening for Lambert’s men, they grew into the contest and started to create some chances of their own. On 16, Steve Morison nodded it on to Wes Hoolahan – who found himself free on the left-hand side of the box – but he shot straight at Pepe Reina.
Five minutes later, some superb build up play ended in a near-perfect cross from Elliott Bennett almost finding the head of Anthony Pilkington, only for it to be bundled behind for a corner. From the set piece, a bullet header from Morison was well caught by Reina.
But there was still time for some drama and in first-half stoppage time, Adam played a long punt up the field catching Russell Martin off guard, with the ball falling to Bellamy who slotted home via a deflection.
Norwich started the second-half brightly though and Pilkington had an excellent chance after Steve Morison played him in on the edge of the box. His powerful shot – like Hoolahan’s earlier – was hit straight at Reina in the Reds goal though.
City were bright and breezy at this point but they could easily have gone two down when the majestic Suarez twisted, turned and went clear in the box. Luckily, a Martin toe poke managed to divert the ball onto the post.
But it all changed on the hour mark when a perfect cross from Pilkington found the substitute Holt, who nipped ahead of Reina to head home. Cue wild celebrations from the travelling Canary faithful.
They had possibly the best chance of the half when Pilkington again found Holt at the back post but when, in truth, he should have scored, the City talisman could only find the hands of Reina.
Norwich probed and pressed and looked threatening but Liverpool still had the X Factor of Suarez and he could have broke Canary hearts in the final seconds of the contest, after sub Andy Carroll headed wide from close range moments earlier.
A pinpoint Steven Gerrard cross found the Uruguayan and he twisted and shot goalwards, only for the magnificent Ruddy to tip over. It really was some save.
City: Ruddy; Naughton, R. Martin, Barnett, Tierney; Bennett (Holt 56), Johnson, Fox, Pilkington (Crofts 90); Hoolahan (c); Morison.
Subs not used: Rudd, Jackson, Surman, Wilbraham, De Laet.