Neil Adams - Norwich City paid for sluggish first half in 3-2 Premier League defeat to Liverpool
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Norwich City boss Neil Adams saluted his players second half response but admitted the Canaries were below-par prior to the interval in Sunday’s 3-2 Premier League defeat against Liverpool.
City threatened to stage an improbable comeback when Gary Hooper struck following two goals inside the first 12 minutes from Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez but England starlet Sterling punished Bradley Johnson for a weak pass to slot his second and Robert Snodgrass’ glancing late header was not enough to ease their relegation fears at Carrow Road. Norwich remain two points clear of the bottom three ahead of league games against Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
“I thought we deserved something from the game, particularly with the second-half performance. The first-half performance wasn’t good enough. We were playing against a top team and you can’t give these types of team an inch or they will punish you,” said Adams. “They are at the top of the table and that’s why they’ve got top-class players in their side and we didn’t get close enough in the tackles. We were a little bit shy with our passing and maybe a bit off the pace. Certainly in the second half I couldn’t ask any more of them.
“The application from the players (in the second half) was precisely the response that you want. What you don’t want is Liverpool running all over you and dominating the game and from the first whistle in the second half you could see we were about it.
“We had that belief we could go on and do something against a top side and the key message from that is that we’ve got three key games coming up. The second half performance is what we need in those three (games) and if we can do that we’re still very confident we can get enough points to stay in the division.”
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hailed Sterling’s sparkling display as the Reds moved five points clear at the top in their bid for a first Premier League crown.
“He is the best young player in European football at the moment,” said Rodgers. “At 19 years of age you don’t see anyone better. His intelligence with the ball, his movement and he’s scoring goals. His first goal was a wonderful strike. He’s just shifted it, got his shot off; to beat a goalkeeper of John Ruddy’s quality shows you the quality of the strike. His pass for Luis’ goal was like a top midfield player, so there’s an assist, and his position for the counter attack when he broke away and obviously gets a bit of luck on the deflection but his overall performance he’s shown so much maturity.”
The Northern Irishman also revealed how he inspired his side ahead of kick-off following an emotional week for the club.
“We’ve come off the back of the week where we held the memorial service for Hillsborough,” said Rodgers. “We used Margaret Aspinall (chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group), one of her quotes she made on the day as a real motivation for us going into the game and real encouragement for us and the players are helping themselves. They’re winning games and they are very hungry. We have qualified for the Champions League. That was the objective and we can finish no lower than third which is an incedible achievement for the team and the squad.”