Saturday 25th September 2004 (3pm)
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Alonso - the new Anfield legend?

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Benitez competitive matches record: Played 8 Won 4 Drawn 1 Lost 3
Liverpool 3-0 Norwich City

» Goals

Baros 23
Garcia 26
Cisse 64

» Match Report

Liverpool began life without injured captain Steven Gerrard with an inspired victory over struggling Norwich.
Spaniards Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia pulled the strings in midfield and the hosts took the lead on 23 minutes, Milan Baros firing home from 25 yards.

The excellent Garcia's deflected shot doubled their lead following a clever through ball by striker Djibril Cisse.

And, as Norwich toiled in vain, Cisse grabbed a third from range before leaving early to nurse a slight strain.

The hosts showed their attacking intent from the first whistle and their opening chance fell to the lively Garcia, who cut in from the right flank and blazed his shot against the post.

Haphazard defending from Norwich almost let in Cisse moments later.

But the Reds did not have to wait long for a deserved goal, the ball breaking to Baros, who beat a man before thumping into the corner from long range.

Alonso had by now taken a firm hold of the match, benefiting from the protection of Dietmar Hamann which allowed him to press forward.

On 23 minutes, the Spain international had a hand in the build-up to the second goal, before a clever through ball from Cisse freed Garcia to slot past Robert Green with the help of a healthy deflection.

Both goalscorers could have added to their tallies before the interval as Liverpool thrilled fans with some cavalier football.

Having contributed little to the first half, Norwich resumed with more purpose and were incensed that Hamann escaped a red card after an horrific challenge on Damien Francis.

But with keeper Jerzy Dudek a virtual spectator, Liverpool still had far too much quality for the visitors.

Enjoying a rare start, Stephen Warnock combined well with John Arne Riise down the left flank.

And Baros would have added his second goal of the game had not a narrow offside decision gone against him.

It fell to the Czech player's strike partner Cisse to put the game away after an hour, thumping home a 25-yarder after being teed up by Alonso from a free-kick.

Manager Raphael Benitez withdrew both Cisse and Alonso soon afterwards to rest them for the Champions League.

His team had already wrapped up the points in impressive style, but outclassed Norwich must wait a while longer for their first Premiership win.

BBC Online

» Teams

Liverpool Dudek , Finnan , Hyypia , Carragher , Riise , Alonso (Diao 63), Hamann , Warnock (Biscan), Garcia , Baros , Cisse (Traore)

Subs not used: Josemi , Kirkland

Norwich Green , Drury , Fleming , Charlton , Edworthy , McVeigh (Jonson), Safri (Bentley), Francis , Holt , Huckerby , Doherty (McKenzie)

Subs not used: Ward , Helveg

Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire)

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Match Report filed: 25th September 2004