It was a clear display of both the best and the worst aspects of this Liverpool team. The Reds' passing was crisp throughout the game. They dominated play, peppered Norwich with shots, but had a solitary goal to show for it in the end. The two points dropped will keep them in fifth place in the English Premier League. Those in front of them can increase the gap between Liverpool and the pacesetters.
Craig Bellamy put the Reds ahead on the stroke of halftime. Grant Holt equalized in the 60th minute, capitalizing on basic errors committed by goalkeeper Pepe Reina and two Liverpool defenders. Allowing opponents to score on one of their few attempts is becoming a hallmark of the Reds' defense.
Liverpool started the game brightly and should have been ahead by at least three goals by halftime. The Reds hit the crossbar twice in the first ten minutes. Martin Skrtel's flashing header and Luis Suarez's shot were both denied by the goalkeeper John Ruddy's best friend.
Most of the hosts' early attempts on goal came from wide areas. Bellamy and Stewart Downing were the creators-in-chief, with their accurate crosses finding their targets.
Bellamy's goal in first-half stoppage team was actually a rare moment of opportunism for the dominant Reds. Suarez collided with a defender while challenging for a long ball. Bellamy picked up the loose ball at the top of the Norwich area, drove forward unchecked, and hit a shot that may have gone wide if not for the deflection it took off defender Marc Tierny. It was the Welshman's first league goal since returning to Liverpool in August.
The Reds went into the break knowing they could have had more from the first half. They opened the second looking for their just desserts and it seemed like they would add to the lead. Suarez hit the post in the 51st minute as Liverpool created chance after chance.
Powerful striker Holt entered the game in the 56th minute and scored four minutes later. Anthony Pilkington had time and space on the right and swung a cross into the Liverpool area. It seemed like a poor decision on his part, as the Reds had numbers (Skrtel, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson) in the area.
The swerving cross was hit with a good amount of pace and Reina left his line to catch it or punch it clear. He hesitated for a moment and it cost him dearly. Holt rose above Johnson, Carragher and Reina and smashed his header into the open net.
Liverpool paid dearly for this momentary lapse in concentration. Norwich grew in confidence for much of the next thirty minutes and seemed like it could leave Anfield with all three points.
Manager Kenny Dalglish countered the visitors by inserting Andy Carroll in the 80th minute. The striker battered the Norwich defense and would have won the game had he put his header on frame.
Ruddy's heroic performance may have been overshadowed by Liverpool's inaccuracy in front of goal. The 24-year-old did a standout job for the Canaries and preserved the draw with a diving save in the 95th minute. Suarez was left unmarked in the area and volleyed a shot on goal. It was a moment of genius that was matched only by the goalkeeper's agility.
Kenny Dalglish summed up the mood in the LFC dressing room after the game.
"I think on the balance of the game we deserved to take three points from it. We played really well up to a point, created an awful lot of chances and there was some great passing and moving," he said. "But when you are only one goal in front it gives them a bit of encouragement. They were hanging on in there. If we don't convert our chances we're always going to give the opposition a chance. They took it."
Liverpool will try and put the disappointment in drawing an utterly winnable game during a busy upcoming week. It travels to Stoke for a Carling Cup game Wednesday. League play continues Saturday at West Bromwich.
See our live blog for a look at the action as it happened.
Photo courtesy of LiverpoolFC.tv
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