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5 key matches for Liverpool

Liverpool
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 By Steven Kelly

Roberto Firmino at the double as Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool edge Norwich

Liverpool's wilderness season got even wilder in their 5-4 win at Norwich on Saturday as they seemed to squander all three points, then regain them, frustratingly throw them away again and finally, through a late Adam Lallana strike, secure the win that they'd done their level best to avoid all afternoon.

Two dreadful defences seemed to vie with each other to see which was worse, with Norwich just about securing that dubious accolade. Few Reds stars did themselves justice, but that won't matter to an ecstatic Jurgen Klopp who lost his cool -- and his glasses -- at the end of a pulsating game.

Everyone knows the German has much to do at Anfield in the coming years, but for now the fans won't care as football once again delivered its unceasing gift of excitement and wonder.

Norwich CityNorwich City
LiverpoolLiverpool
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Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Simon Mignolet, 5 -- His alarming slowness in getting down to a low shot once again put Liverpool in trouble. Although a lack of defensive organisation at corners still puts the Reds in needless danger, his lack of command again calls into question the decision to give him a new contract.

DF Nathan Clyne, 7 -- One of the few who could hold his head up at the back, though most of his better work came in Norwich's half rather than his own. Often gets into good crossing positions only to look up and see nobody arriving in the box. That isn't his fault, but at least Jordan Henderson capitalised on one of them to make it 3-2 and start the comeback.

DF Kolo Toure, 5 -- Steady enough, but as a partner with Mamadou Sakho, he seemed unsure and unsteady sometimes. The late, late winner meant all was well in the end, but no defence can concede four and be happy with its afternoon's work.

DF Mamadou Sakho, 5 -- Usually reliable, he became rattled by the chaos around him. Shared the back four's inability to foresee any of Norwich's quick movement and looked asleep at times. A better defensive left-back alongside him wouldn't hurt.

DF Alberto Moreno, 4 -- One of the Spaniard's occasional empty-headed days. One or two forays up front did not disguise a shabby display at the back, culminating in a brainless challenge on Steven Naismith to concede a penalty. On any normal day that was enough for an ignominious defeat, and Moreno's role in it would've been the talking point.

MF Lucas Leiva, 6 -- Most of Norwich's best work was down the flanks, so his usual interceptive work wasn't important on the day. Steady enough and hard to criticise when there were more inept displays from others to get upset about.

MF Emre Can, 6 -- Mixed performance from the German, with his normal pressing game absent especially in a dozy first half. That simply emphasised the flaws in the rest of his game. Responded well to Liverpool going 4-3 up where he then showed the energy that makes him so hard to play against, but up until then was a disappointment.

MF James Milner, 7 -- Like most players, he was a huge letdown in the first half, apart from setting up Roberto Firmino's opener. Awful when put clean through for a chance to make it 2-0, though it's doubtful that would have killed off this game. He was much better in the second half and very alert to latch onto Russell Martin's shocking back pass for a fourth Liverpool goal that should have been the winner. His experience was a major factor in their comeback.

MF Jordan Henderson, 5 -- Strangely quiet match from the captain, who hasn't really come back from injury with the same energy and appetite. Opportunist goal gave his side a vital lifeline, but his substitution wasn't a surprise.

MF Jordon Ibe, 6 -- One or two dangerous runs showed how much Ibe could have influenced this match yet he rarely did. Annoyed at being replaced by Klopp, especially as other players had performed worse, he still hadn't risen to the occasion and rarely helped out a clearly struggling Moreno.

FW Roberto Firmino, 8 -- Perplexing performance, where his lack of real tenacity for a forward role was sometimes evident. He still scored two vital goals and was a threat throughout. Recent goals might instill more confidence in a young player who clearly has bags of ability.

Substitutes

MF Adam Lallana, 8 -- Immediately justified his manager's decision to put him on by setting up Firmino's second goal. He produced the only moment that mattered in the fifth minute of injury time. His ecstatic response shows how much he wants to be an Anfield star and, who knows, this winner could prove to be the decisive moment he began to be one.

FW Christian Benteke, N/R -- Originally coming on to chase a winner, he ended up chasing aimless clearances as the Reds clung to a 4-3 lead. Half asleep for one clearance in which he was given offside, the resultant free kick saw Norwich make it 4-4.

DF Steven Caulker, N/R -- Brought on to clear any aerial danger, he seemed to cause only initial and fatal disarray at the back. He then contributed to the confusion in Norwich's defence that led to Lallana's winner. What a strange Liverpool career it's been so far.


Steven Kelly writes about Liverpool for ESPN FC and has a weekly Liverpool column for The Irish Examiner. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.

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