ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Norwich City 4 Liverpool 5
LONDON • Now that is entertainment, Norwich and Liverpool-style.
A match that hurtled breathlessly between break-neck attacking and comical defending at Carrow Road yesterday reached an incredible finale, when Adam Lallana scored a stoppage-time winning goal for the visitors moments after Sebastien Bassong had equalised for the hosts.
Steven Naismith marked his Norwich debut with a goal, Roberto Firmino struck two beauties and Dieumerci Mbokani, Wes Hoolahan and Jordan Henderson also found the net as Liverpool took three points and Norwich were left perilously close to the relegation zone.
Those are the bare facts from Liverpool's first win of 2016, a match with enough incident to last a year.
Liverpool's best performances in the three months since Klopp took charge have involved bold starts but here they began rather aimlessly. Instead Norwich seized the initiative from the first minute, as if energised by the deployment of two January recruits, Naismith and the right-back, Ivo Pinto.
Liverpool looked weak and muddled until the 18th minute when they suddenly conjured a goal utterly at odds with their display up to that point.
WE NEVER GAVE UP
It was ridiculous at times. To show the character to come back, and then the disappointment of conceding in stoppage time, it would have been easy to roll over but we went again and got the result.
''JAMES MILNER , Liverpool midfielder, on his team's fighting spirit.
The visitors cut their way down the left, before James Milner nudged the ball through to Firmino.The Brazilian shot across the advancing Declan Rudd, who got a foot to the ball but could not prevent it bobbling in off the far post.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Norwich City 4 Liverpool 5
Crystal Palace 1 Tottenham 3
Leicester City 3 Stoke City 0
Manchester United 0 Southampton 1
Sunderland 1 Bournemouth 1
Watford 2 Newcastle 1
West Bromwich 0 Aston Villa 0
West Ham v Manchester City
Everton v Swansea City - Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, 9.30pm
Arsenal v Chelsea - Ch102 & Ch227, midnight
Liverpool's play was infused with new energy and briefly they showed their vaunted pressing skills. But their well-established difficulty with defending set-pieces re-emerged in the 29th minute.
The visitors floundered as they tried to clear a delivery, and, when Robbie Brady nodded the ball back into the box, Mbokani collected it with his back to goal, held off Mamadou Sakho and then backheeled the ball smartly into the net.
Norwich attacked with gusto thereafter, though not always with precision. The move in the 41st minute was, however, a beauty.
A rapid advance down the right culminated with Wes Hoolahan slipping a lovely pass through to Naismith, who lashed a low shot into the far corner from an acute angle.
It was a tidy finish by the striker but a goalkeeper who has just signed a new five-year contract at Anfield should have stopped it.
Simon Mignolet got the chance to showcase his shot-stopping ability - and atone for a ludicrous foul on Naismith by Alberto Moreno - when Norwich were awarded a penalty in the 54th minute. Hoolahan, though, dinked the penalty down the middle of the goal as Mignolet dived left.
The Carrow Road faithful were still crowing about their two-goal lead when Liverpool replied via Henderson and Firmino.
The visitors made it 4-3 when Norwich's Russell Martin inadvertently put Milner through on goal with a reckless back pass, and the Liverpool midfielder took the chance, slotting past Rudd to trigger jubilation among the away players and fans.
But it was not time for them to celebrate just yet. Because two minutes into stoppage time, it was the home crowd's turn to explode with joy as Bassong plundered an equaliser with a ferocious low shot from 20 metres.
A madcap match still had another twist in store. After Klopp introduced Steve Caulker up front again, the makeshift striker made a nuisance of himself in the Norwich box and one of his shots was cleared only as far as Lallana, who hit a first-time volley into the net.
"That (scoring) was one of those moments in your career that just happens, you go with your flow," Lallana told BT Sport.
Now Liverpool could celebrate in style. Manager Juergen Klopp's glasses were accidentally knocked off by Christian Benteke in the melee. "Unbelievable game," said the German after complaining bitterly to the fourth official about the five added minutes earlier.
"We had a lot of problems today but we played football and scored beautiful goals.
"I think we were the deserved winners in a spectacular game. Of course we were lucky, but we were not too lucky when they equalised in added time. It is very emotional."
It was only the fourth Premier League match ever to finish 5-4.
"Defensively it was very poor and that is what cost us. If 11 men can't defend for two minutes, then you will get punished," said Naismith.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE