Liverpool edged closer to the Premier League title with an unconvincing 3-2 victory against the struggling Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday.
The Reds made a dream start in Norfolk, with Raheem Sterling blasting home from 25 yards after just four minutes.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have made a habit of seizing a very early initiative in games this season, as journalist Miguel Delaney revealed:
Liverpool have scored 10 goals inside the first five minutes of games this season.— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) April 20, 2014
Luis Suarez then notched his customary goal against the Canaries seven minutes later, before a second-half strike from Sterling in between Gary Hooper and Robert Snodgrass goals put Liverpool over the line.
It was Suarez’s 12th goal against Norwich, and it saw the Uruguayan reach the landmark of 30 goals for a single Premier League season, as Opta Joe reported:
7 - Luis Suarez is only the 7th player to hit 30+ goals in a single Premier League season (Shearer did it three times). Bounty.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2014
30 - Luis Suarez is the first player to reach 30 goals in Europe's big five leagues this season. Elite.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2014
With Neil Adams’ side fighting for their Premier League lives, Sunday’s match was a potential banana skin on Liverpool’s road to the title, but Rodgers got the result that he needed.
Following the match, the 41-year-old manager revealed that his side’s performance this season has succeeded all expectations, and praised another vital win—as BBC Sport reported:
The most important thing was to get three points and also the performance level. We are on 96 goals now and our idea is to get 100 plus - that would be an incredible effort. The objective at the start of the season was to qualify for the Champions League—that was always going to be an incredible task but now we know we cannot finish lower than third. We will go into the next three games looking to perform well. We want to continue to fight and now look to Chelsea next week—where it will be an incredible atmosphere at Anfield.
With Chelsea suffering a shock loss to Sunderland on Saturday, Liverpool now have some breathing space at the top of the Premier League.
The Reds will welcome Jose Mourinho’s side to Anfield on April 27, where even a defeat will see them remain in above the Blues with two generous fixtures remaining, though Manchester City will undoubtedly be hot on their heels.
They’ll need to improve on Sunday’s performance if they’re to avoid a last-minute slip up in their quest for glory, though, with Norwich looking the stronger side in the second half.
Meanwhile, at the wrong end of the table, Norwich have three more all-or-nothing fixtures against tough opposition as their Premier League status hangs in the balance.
Adams knows he has a real task on his hands in keeping the Canaries in the top flight, but praised the second-half performance of his players against the champions elect in his post-match interview—per BBC Sport:
First half was not good enough, Liverpool are a top side but we were off the pace. Second half was a great effort, I couldn't ask for any more of the players and hopefully that will give them belief going into the final three games. We have to get more points, the performances in the past two games have been first class, but we have to get the points. The belief is there and we are 100 per cent committed to staying in the division.
Norwich face away trips to Manchester United and Chelsea before welcoming Arsenal to Carrow Road in their remaining fixtures; and they’ll have to pick up points sitting just two points out of the relegation zone.
For Liverpool, though, the sky’s the limit. Steven Gerrard is just three games away from getting his hands on the trophy that a man of his legendary status deserves to hold, as his dream gets closer and closer to being reality.