Danny Ings impresses but Liverpool make it five without a win

Russell Martin’s equaliser earns Norwich a well deserved point at Anfield

Russell Martin celebrates after  scoring  Norwich’s equaliser in the premier league game against Liverpool at Anfield. Photograph:   Phil Noble/Reuters/Livepic

Russell Martin celebrates after scoring Norwich’s equaliser in the premier league game against Liverpool at Anfield. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters/Livepic

 

Liverpool 1 Norwich 1

Liverpool would have a new dimension with Daniel Sturridge back in the side, according to Brendan Rodgers, but only old failings were in evidence at Anfield as Norwich City claimed a merited point to deepen the misery for the manager.

Weak goalkeeping from Simon Mignolet enabled Russell Martin to cancel out Danny Ings’s first goal for his new club and extended Liverpool’s winless streak to five games in all competitions. Ings’s lively, aggressive contribution as a second-half substitute was the main plus for the Liverpool manager, who shifted his team’s shape, changed personnel but was still left searching for a convincing overall display. Alex Neil’s team were composed, well-drilled and well worth their point on the road.

Anfield was flat, the opening half-hour was especially so, but it would have been much worse for Rodgers had referee Anthony Taylor applied the strict letter of the law and dismissed James Milner after only four minutes. Liverpool’s captain in the absence of the injured Jordan Henderson received an early booking for dragging Cameron Jerome to the ground in the centre circle.

Moments later, latching on to a Sturridge flick, the former Manchester City midfielder evaded Robbie Brady’s challenge inside the penalty area before tumbling theatrically with the ball lost. Taylor did not fall for Milner’s attempt to win a penalty, nor did he book the midfielder for a dive that prompted a furious response from Brady. The polite interpretation was that Taylor adjudged Brady’s tackle to have effected Milner’s balance and gave the England international the benefit of the doubt. Or he just avoided making a huge call.

Sturridge’s return to the starting line-up for the first time since April 8th and the overdue selection of Mamadou Sakho in place of Dejan Lovren enthused the home crowd more than Liverpool’s first-half display. Despite his first touch being inevitably rusty after so long out, Sturridge’s pace and movement brought more intent to Liverpool’s game than witnessed in recent matches although Philippe Coutinho was often strangely overlooked in the No 10 role.

Sakho followed his performance in Bordeaux with another accomplished outing as Norwich enjoyed sustained spells in the final third without seriously testing Mignolet until their equalising goal.

After his early reprieve Milner had the game’s first chance when the recalled Alberto Moreno controlled Emre Can’s long ball superbly on the left and picked out the midfielder lurking on the edge of the area. Brady of all people blocked Milner’s goal-bound shot. Nathaniel Clyne also went close from distance and John Ruddy saved well from Sturridge when Lucas Leiva, making his 200th Premier League appearance, capitalised on a poor ball out of defence by Martin and played the striker through on goal. The Norwich captain would not escape punishment for slack distribution later on.

Milner had two further chances before the interval but Liverpool were slow and laboured in possession until the introduction of Ings for Christian Benteke at half-time belatedly sparked some urgency.

Ings’s running and alertness suited the home side’s approach better than their €46.5 million summer signing from Aston Villa and, within three minutes of entering the fray, the former Burnley forward had his first Liverpool goal.

Martin again played his team into trouble with a careless pass to Moreno, who swept a first-time ball over the top. Ings had read the Spaniard’s intentions perfectly. Taking the ball on his chest, the 23-year-old ran clear of Sébastian Bassong and rolled a fine finish under the otherwise commanding Ruddy.

It should have been the platform that Liverpool craved. Instead, they gifted Norwich an equaliser when Mignolet made a hash of dealing with a Brady corner and allowed Martin to atone for his earlier error. The Liverpool goalkeeper came for the cross but punched weakly to the visiting defender who lofted a cool shot over his head as he scrambled backwards.

Matt Jarvis should have edged Neil’s men ahead but shot straight at Mignolet from close range, while Coutinho squandered a clearer chance when put through by Can. The Brazilian was caught in two minds as Bassong backed off to cover Ings and ultimately sent a poor shot straight at the Norwich goalkeeper.

(Guardian service)

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