Liverpool in Sterling form to stay on league title path

Sport360 staff 17:42 20/04/2014
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Two-goal hero: Raheem Sterling (l) celebrates his second goal with Lucas Leiva.

Liverpool nervously edged closer to a first league title in the Premier League era with a nail-biting 3-2 success over Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday.

Brendan Rodgers's side now boast a five-point advantage over second-place Chelsea, who had surprisingly lost 2-1 at home to bottom club Sunderland on Saturday and who will be their next opponents at Anfield next Sunday.

Manchester City are also in the equation and have two games in hand, but Liverpool know that a first title since 1990 will be theirs even if they draw with Chelsea, provided they win their two other fixtures.

Raheem Sterling scored two of Liverpool's goals at Carrow Road, with Luis Suarez bringing his total for the season to 30 with the other.

The result was a huge setback for the home side, who remain out of the relegation places but are in danger of being overtaken by any of the three clubs below them.

There were two changes to the Liverpool side that beat Manchester City 3-2 last week, with Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen replacing the suspended Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, who has a hamstring injury.

Norwich had lost 1-0 at relegation rivals Fulham the previous weekend and made a single change, up front, with Gary Hooper coming in for Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

It took Liverpool just four minutes to take the lead in sensational style through Sterling, who celebrated it by running to the touchline and hugging Rodgers.

The winger received the ball from Philippe Coutinho and used his skill to slip past Bradley Johnson before unleashing a 25-yard drive that deflected off defender Michael Turner on its way past goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Norwich replied with a Hooper header that cleared the bar, but it was not long before Ruddy had to make a smart stop to deny Allen.

Norwich exploit Mignolet blunder

Goal number two was coming and this time Sterling was the provider in the 11th minute, sending in a low cross from the left for Suarez to poke home his 12th goal in just five games against the Canaries.

Liverpool survived a goal-mouth scramble involving Hooper and Leroy Fer, but the fluidity of their passing and their movement off the ball meant that they remained in the ascendancy.

The second half began with Sterling firing over to end an excellent move that had seen Suarez find Coutinho with a 60-yard crossfield ball, but suddenly, in the 54th minute, Norwich were back in it.

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was to blame, flapping at a cross under pressure from Johnson, and Hooper got there before Mamadou Sakho to put the ball into the empty net for his first goal since December 26.

That woke Liverpool up and Suarez fired a good chance across goal before Sterling restored their two-goal cushion in the 62nd minute in circumstances that Johnson will not want to remember.

The Norwich midfielder gifted possession to the Liverpool man with a square pass, but managed to get back to block his resulting shot, only to see it loop up over Ruddy and land in the net.

Fer was fortunate not to be booked for a late tackle on Suarez, who went down clutching his leg but suddenly sprang from the turf once he realised that an advantage was being played.

Robert Snodgrass, Nathan Redmond and Russell Martin all came close to Norwich replies before Snodgrass headed home Martin Olsson's cross with 13 minutes remaining.

Norwich instantly made a double substitution, sending on attackers Van Wolfswinkel and Josh Murphy, with Rodgers responding by swapping Allen for extra defender Daniel Agger.

The home side threw men forward and Mignolet had to get down to keep out van Wolfswinkel's header, but they were relieved when Suarez unselfishly set up Lucas, who saw his first effort saved by Ruddy and then put the rebound wide.

Ruddy then went up for a free-kick, but the final whistle confirmed that Liverpool had hung on to bank three more precious points.

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