Although referee Mike Jones did little to alter the officials’ image of giving Liverpool a hard time, Suárez certainly enhanced his own reputation. There had been question marks over his ruthlessness in front of goal and whether or not he goes to ground too easily. He addressed both issues in positive fashion by taking advantage of most of his openings, while staying on his feet in the box – apart from when he was fouled.
The only blip for Suárez was when he dragged wide a one-on-one attempt while it was still 1-0, but he responded by finishing clinically a minute later, teeing up another later and then completing his hat-trick. He richly deserved a second successive Carrow Road treble, having scored all their goals in the 3-0 win here last season.
“I thought it was another master class in finishing apart from the one-on-one,” said Rodgers. “It was a special day for him and for the team.”
The penalty incident came when Suárez was brought down by Leon Barnett. Discussing the moment, which came in the week in which he expressed concerns to Mike Riley about decisions going against Liverpool, Rodgers said: “It was a stonewall penalty. I think everyone in the ground knew. Antonio Valencia got one for hardly any contact but Leon Barnett elbowed him and we got nothing.
“I spoke to Mike Riley during the week and put over my concerns. Maybe one day we’ll get the decision.”
That was a side issue on a celebratory day for Liverpool though. Across the team, they had reasons for optimism though as they passed the ball cohesively and built attacks from the back, albeit with the assistance of some loose defending. Nuri Sahin and Raheem Sterling both gave encouraging displays again with their running and vision, while the likes of Suso and Andre Wisdom coped well on their first Premier League starts.
For Liverpool, it was the most convincing of ways to secure their first league victory of the season. Suárez’s first goal was created by Glen Johnson, who ventured forward towards the edge of the 18-yard box and then threaded the ball forward towards Sahin. Michael Turner, horribly exposed in this match, intercepted but could only clear as far as Suárez and the Uruguayan controlled well before scoring.
Liverpool continued to look threatening, but Norwich showed their own ability when Russell Martin struck the ball towards goal and Simeon Jackson connected on the way, forcing Pepe Reina into a low save.
Rodgers had more reason to be aggrieved with referees in the 23rd minute. Suárez slipped clear of Barnett, who appeared to impede him with an arm on his right shoulder, leading the Uruguayan to go down in the area, but Jones did not award a spot-kick.
Suárez was soon the centre of attention again. First, he burst clear and
somehow dragged a dire shot wide. The
Norwich missed an excellent chance to cut the deficit early in the second half as Andrew Surman struck a fierce effort towards goal and Robert Snodgrass diverted the ball over the bar from two yards. Norwich were left to rue the miss further when Sterling raced forward and picked out Suárez on his left. He crossed at the second attempt, allowing Sahin to tap in.
Surman dragged another great chance wide as Norwich looked to restore some pride. Suárez piled on more agony though, curling in another from 20 yards to complete his hat-trick.
Norwich had a rare moment to cheer when Reina spilt a Russell Martin shot, allowing Steve Morison to lash in a consolation goal. But Liverpool were not dropping their attacking standards and Sterling dashed down the right to set up Steven Gerrard who finished with the assistance of a hefty deflection off Barnett. Grant Holt scored a late second for Norwich, punishing a mistake by Martin Skrtel. It was Norwich, though, who were left regretting their mistakes.
“We came up against Suárez at his most clinical,” admitted Norwich manager Chris Hughton.