Liverpool lost ground in the race for a top four Premier League finish on Saturday after being held to a 1-1 draw by promoted Norwich City at Anfield.
The Reds looked to be on course for a comfortable victory after a one-sided first half which saw them hit the woodwork twice, before a Craig Bellamy goal on halftime put them 1-0 up.
However, a superb goal on the counter-attack from Grant Holt in the 60th minute stunned Liverpool.
Liverpool could have snatched victory in the fourth minute of injury time, but Luis Suarez was denied by a magnificent John Ruddy save and Paul Lambert’s Canaries held on for a deserved share of the points.
“We [goalkeepers] don’t get much to cheer about, but when you make a save like that at the end the buzz is massive. It’s like scoring a goal,” Ruddy said. “I was pleased to make the save because I was at fault from a cross just before so thank god for that. We were terrific in the second half. We were a different animal and showed what we are about. We don’t fear anybody.”
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish admitted his side were punished for not making the most of their opportunities.
“If you don’t convert your chances you will give other people a chance and they took it,” he said. “We’re disappointed with the result, but I’m sure we’ll play worse than that and win.”
The draw left Liverpool four points adrift of fourth-placed Newcastle United, who cemented their place in the top four after a late goal from Yohan Cabaye handed them a 1-0 victory over struggling Wigan Athletic at St James’ Park.
For long periods Alan Pardew’s men were frustrated by a disciplined Wigan side until Cabaye struck in the 81st minute to the delight of the Toon Army.
“Yohan is a really class player and he brings an elegance to us that everybody really appreciates,” Pardew said. “He’s hit a real cracker to get up and running.”
The win left Newcastle level on points with Chelsea, but trailing the Londoners on goal difference ahead of their derby with Queens Park Rangers.
The defeat saw Wigan slump to the foot of the table with only five points from nine matches this season.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Sunderland eased the pressure on manager Steve Bruce with a hard-fought 2-0 win at relegation-threatened Bolton Wanderers.
Sunderland’s victory at the Reebok Stadium came courtesy of goals in the final eight minutes from Stephane Sessegnon and on-loan Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner.
At Villa Park, West Bromwich Albion came from behind to down 10-man Aston Villa 2-1 for a win which lifted Roy Hodgson’s side into the top half of the table.
Darren Bent fired Villa ahead on 23 minutes with a penalty after the Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster tripped Gabriel Agbonlahor.
However, Villa were reduced to 10 men when Chris Herd was sent off for a straight red card offense in an off-the-ball tangle with Jonas Olsson which also saw West Brom awarded a penalty.
Northern Ireland international Chris Brunt missed the resulting spot-kick, but atoned for his howler on the stroke of halftime, when his corner was headed in by Olsson for 1-1.
Austrian international Paul Scharner put West Brom 2-1 up on 57 minutes when he hooked in past Shay Given.
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