April 29, 2012
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Suarez treble as Liverpool down Norwich

Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Liverpool warmed up for next week's FA Cup final with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Norwich City on Saturday.

The Uruguay international netted twice in the space of four first half minutes before brilliantly chipping goalkeeper John Ruddy from just inside the Norwich half late on.

A home game with Fulham on Tuesday night represents Liverpool's final dress rehearsal for Saturday's Wembley date with Chelsea.

And with Suarez in such fine form Liverpool will have every chance of adding to their League Cup success earlier in the season.

Beforehand, there had been no sign of Andy Carroll on the Liverpool team-sheet as Craig Bellamy returned to the starting line-up.

Carroll had been left behind as a precautionary measure to get treatment on a groin injury that is not expected to rule him out of the FA Cup final.

The opening exchanges were of poor quality until Suarez fired Liverpool ahead in the 24th minute.

David Fox, the Norwich midfielder, was dispossessed in his own half by Steven Gerrard, who played the Uruguay international in behind the home defence for an emphatic left-foot finish.

Suarez set Gerrard up soon afterwards but the England midfielder's goal-bound shot was deflected behind off Ryan Bennett.

The reprieve was short-lived for Norwich however as Suarez found the net again in the 28th minute.

This time it was all his own work as he evaded Elliott Ward's weak challenge before firing a low drive across Ruddy into the bottom corner.

Suarez then appeared to dive in the hope of winning a penalty before Ward was booked for a poor challenge.

Jonny Howson became the second Norwich man to be cautioned before half time when he needlessly brought down Gerrard.

Norwich, having managed zero shots in the first 45 minutes, sent on a second forward in the shape of James Vaughan at the break, with Fox the man coming off.

Pepe Reina, the Liverpool goalkeeper, was at last called into action to tip round a well-struck effort from Elliott Bennett, and Bradley Johnson headed wide from the resulting corner.

But Liverpool were still the better side and almost extended their lead from their next attack. Suarez's shot looped up off Ryan Bennett to Jonjo Shelvey, who headed against the bar.

The young midfielder should have scored soon afterwards as well when he ballooned Jose Enrique's cross over the bar from all of two yards out.

Liverpool were on top as the game passed the hour mark and Ruddy did well to palm a shot from Stewart Downing, who had neatly turned his marker, round a post.

Suarez passed up a great opportunity to claim a hat-trick when he pushed the ball through Ryan Bennett's legs to go clear but chipped over the crossbar as well as Ruddy.

Daniel Agger saw a header cleared off the Norwich line by Howson before Vaughan was booked for a late challenge on Reina.

Bennett was booked for an elbow in Suarez's face before Vaughan headed a chance wide for Norwich, who then brought Grant Holt on for the final 15 minutes.

It was Suarez's day however and he completed his hat-trick in the 82nd minute in the most audacious way possible.

Again Ward came off second best in a challenge just inside the Norwich half and Suarez, having taken a touch, saw Ruddy was off his line and lobbed him from all of 50 yards for a goal of the season contender.

AFP

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