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Adam Lallana struck a very late winner as Liverpool secured a dramatic 5-4 Premier League victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road.
Roberto Firmino’s first-time finish from a James Milner pass gave the visitors the lead but Norwich, having survived a very strong case for a Liverpool penalty, hit back through Dieumerci Mbokani’s excellent, clever strike from eight yards.
After equalising, it was the Canaries who were denied what ought to have been a spot-kick, though the home fans cared little about the refereeing error when debutant Steven Naismith smacked a fine shot past Simon Mignolet to send Norwich ahead prior to the interval.
Referee Lee Mason did point to the spot 10 minutes into the second half, as Alberto Moreno fouled Naismith, with Wes Hoolahan converting from 12 yards.
However, Jordan Henderson swept in Nathaniel Clyne’s cross to give Liverpool hope, before Lallana delivered for Firmino to level the affair.
James Milner collected Russell Martin’s ill-advised back-pass to move Liverpool ahead but, over two minutes into injury time, Sebastien Bassong struck from 20 yards to score what appeared to be the goal that would see the points shared.
There was still time, though, for Lallana to bounce home an effort that sickened the home faithful and sent Jurgen Klopp wild.
Victory would have moved Norwich five points clear of the drop zone. Instead, Alex Neil’s relegation worries will be as prominent as ever following the heartbreaking defeat.
The hosts had started brightly but fell behind when Milner received Moreno’s square pass and played in Firmino, who found the net from a difficult angle despite goalkeeper Declan Rudd getting his left boot to the effort.
Milner wasted a fine opportunity to double the Reds’ lead from Firmino’s through ball, taking too long to strike and being denied by Robbie Brady.
The visitors should have had a penalty through a pull by Bassong on Firmino, but Mason felt that the foul had occurred outside of the area.
Norwich struck back just prior to the half-hour through Mbokani, who took down a Graham Dorrans header into the box and powerfully heeled the ball past Mignolet, after Liverpool had failed to properly clear a corner from Brady.
Former Everton man Naismith, a few minutes after being shoved over in the box by Milner but receiving nothing for it, secured the lead for his new side by receiving Hoolahan’s short pass and driving an angled shot across Mignolet from close to the corner of the six-yard area.
Hoolahan secured a two-goal advantage for Norwich early in the second half, narrowly beating Mignolet with a clipped strike from the spot, after Moreno had hacked at Naismith on the Reds’ by-line.
Liverpool, though, responded when Firmino accidentally provided the ideal flick-on to Clyne’s low cross, allowing Henderson to strike a shot that gave Rudd little chance.
Parity was restored with over a quarter of the game still remaining, as Lallana got in behind the very advanced Norwich back-line and centred for Firmino, who took a neat touch and side-footed the ball home.
The visitors moved ahead with 15 minutes to go thanks largely to Martin’s blind back-pass, which Milner latched to before shifting to his right and finishing well.
Liverpool appeared to have shut down the game but when substitute Cameron Jerome bullied the visiting defence to give Bassong an opportunity, the defender drove in an accurate shot from outside of the box.
Incredibly, however, Lallana pounced at the death to strike Brady’s attempted clearance back towards goal, with the ball bouncing off the turf and into the corner of the net.
The stunning win will certainly have eased accusations of Liverpool being too defensive under Klopp, whilst improving the Merseysiders hopes of securing European football for next season.
By David Maher