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Grant Holt: The Wrestler

Toe Poke
 By Paddy Davitt

Norwich City defence spoil Steven Naismith's dazzling debut vs. Liverpool

Norwich City imploded to gift Liverpool a remarkable Premier League win in an epic 5-4 tussle at Carrow Road.

The Canaries were 3-1 up early in the second half when Wes Hoolahan coolly slotted a penalty, earned by Alberto Moreno's nibble on Steven Naismith. Roberto Firmino had opened the scoring in the first half, but Dieumerci Mbokani's cheeky back heel and Naismith's debut strike had put Alex Neil's men in front at the interval.

Jordan Henderson replied within two minutes of Hoolahan's goal before Firmino was afforded the freedom of Norwich's penalty area to level. Russell Martin's calamitous back pass was pounced on by James Milner, who guided his close range finish beyond Declan Rudd, but there was more drama to come.

Seb Bassong looked to have salvaged a stoppage time point when he lashed home 18 yards out, until the Canaries were heavily punished for more defensive hesitancy when Adam Lallana hooked home a 95th minute winner to spark wild scenes of celebration that swept up Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and his backroom team.

The contrast in emotions at the final whistle was never more stark. Norwich's players trooped away as the Reds savoured their triumph in front of their supporters. Neil struggled to find the words to explain his side's surrender when he spoke to the media afterwards, but after conceding 11 goals in their last three Premier League games, the Scot must find the answers to halt an alarming slide.

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

GK Declan Rudd, 5 -- Left badly exposed too often but could have made himself a bigger target on Firmino's two goals and Milner's cool slot in one-on-one duels.

DF Ivo Pinto, 5 -- Decent and progressive going forward, but suspect defensively against the pace of Jordan Ibe. Liverpool's first and third goals came down his side of the pitch. The Reds also exploited his positional uncertainty in the midst of the second half.

DF Russell Martin 3 -- Fortunate to retain his place after a shaky display last week at Bournemouth. Moved into central defence and his howler of a back pass was punished by Milner.

DF Seb Bassong, 5 -- Looked to have scored a remarkable stoppage time equaliser when he lashed home from the edge of the penalty area. But had no answer to Firmino's movement and trickery. Left the striker unattended with damaging consequences for Liverpool's third goal.

DF Robbie Brady, 5 -- Poor attempt at a clearing header deep in stoppage time was hooked home by Lallana to seal a dramatic win. Played Firmino onside for Liverpool's first goal. Did produce one last-ditch block to foil Milner.

MF Graham Dorrans, 4 -- Failed to track the run of Henderson for Liverpool's second goal just moments after Norwich had surged into a 3-1 lead. Failed to offer any defensive protection.

MF Jonny Howson, 6 -- Energetic and forceful in Norwich's best spells. One surging run turned defence into attack but Lucas got back for a timely block.

MF Nathan Redmond, 5 -- Glimpses of attacking potential but culpable for Liverpool's first goal after failing to close down Moreno. Needed to offer Pinto more assistance.

MF Steven Naismith, 8 -- Looked to be enjoying a debut day to remember when he rifled low past Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Was then hauled down by Moreno for Hoolahan's penalty. Quality in possession and showed plenty of appetite for the battle.

Steven Naismith's goal gave Norwich City a 2-1 first half lead vs. Liverpool.
Steven Naismith's goal gave Norwich City a 2-1 first half lead vs. Liverpool.

MF Wes Hoolahan, 7 -- Assist for Naismith's fine goal and the coolest of penalties to lift the spot kick over Mignolet.

FW Dieumerci Mbokani, 7 -- Instinctive brilliance for his goal with a cheeky back heel from seven yards that went through the legs of Mamadou Sakho. Constant menace to the Liverpool backline.


FW Matt Jarvis, 5 -- Brought on for Redmond in the 70th minute to add experience but never really got on the ball to threaten Liverpool.

DF Martin Olsson, 5 -- Came on for Hoolahan in the 70th minute. The Swedish international was unable to stem the tide in a frantic finale.

FW Cameron Jerome, NR -- Replaced the tiring Naismith in the 82nd minute as Norwich tried to rally.

Paddy is the chief Norwich City correspondent for media group Archant. He has covered the Canaries for more than 10 years. Twitter: @paddyjdavitt.


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