Daniel Sturridge marked his Anfield debut with another goal as Liverpool conjured up a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Norwich City at Anfield on Saturday.
The new signing netted his third goal in as many games for the Reds shortly after half-time as Brendan Rodgers‘ men secured an impressive victory in freezing conditions.
Jordan Henderson’s 26th minute strike gave Liverpool the reward it deserved for its early pressure, with the midfielder finding the target with a well-executed volley from 20 yards.
Luis Suarez doubled the lead soon after, finishing neatly after being sent through on goal when Sturridge cleverly stepped over Lucas Leiva’s pass.
Sturridge then netted from inside the six-yard box following a fine cross by Stewart Downing after the break, and Steven Gerrard fired the fourth when he drilled into the bottom corner from distance.
Norwich’s day went from bad to worse when Ryan Bennett turned substitute Raheem Sterling’s low cross into his own net to complete the rout.
The pregame team news contained one or two surprises with Brad Jones starting in place of the injured Pepe Reina. Jamie Carragher also returned to the side in place of Martin Skrtel, while Sturridge was handed his Anfield debut alongside Suarez and Downing in attack.
Liverpool dictated the early tempo, putting the visitors’ goal under pressure from the first whistle — and after Downing had struck narrowly wide from distance, Sturridge drew a low stop out of Mark Bunn after encouraging link-up play with Suarez.
A home goal appeared inevitable — and Norwich was finally unlocked in the 26th minute with a goal well worth the wait.
Ever tenacious, Suarez attempted to wriggle beyond three Norwich defenders on the edge of the box. The Uruguayan was eventually halted, but the ball bounced invitingly for Henderson, who hooked a first-time volley into the top corner with aplomb.
10 minutes later and Liverpool went further ahead. Sturridge intelligently dummied Lucas’s through pass allowing Suarez to go bearing down on goal and the end result was never in doubt as the Uruguayan found the bottom corner for No. 20 of the season so far.
Norwich threatened to cut the deficit almost instantly, but Grant Holt’s angled volley following a goal-mouth scramble was headed away from danger by Andre Wisdom.
But the second half continued where the first had ended — with Liverpool applying heavy pressure to Bunn’s goal.
The third of the afternoon duly arrived with 59 minutes on the Anfield scoreboard. A slick passing exchange resulted in Henderson lifting a pass into Downing on the right corner of the box. The winger delivered a first-time center allowing Sturridge to tuck home from close range.
In doing so, the striker became the first player since Ray Kennedy in 1974 to score in each of his first three Liverpool appearances and only the seventh ever to achieve the feat for the club.
Gerrard added the Reds’ fourth shortly after, arrowing into the bottom corner from 25 yards, before Bennett diverted Sterling’s cross into his own net on the slide to put the seal on a good afternoon’s work for Rodgers and co.
Liverpoolfc.com journalists’ man of the match: Luis Suarez
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com