Photo Gallery: Norwich City survive toughest of tests at Liverpool
Liverpool 1, Norwich City 1: Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart. And you'll never walk alone. The most famous footballing anthem of them all felt entirely appropriate to reflect on a day when those outside of Norfolk perhaps finally realised Norwich do belong in the Premier League.
Not for a brief tenure on the back of a remarkably rapid rise from the Football League; grateful for nine months in the spotlight and a few million in parachute payments.
Make no mistake, Paul Lambert's men were pummelled by the five-time champions of Europe. Taken into the trenches in an opening salvo of almost surgical precision, such was the pace and ferocity that Liverpool pinned Norwich back in front of the massed ranks sat in the Kop. But they survived.
For those unfamiliar with the footballing miracle cultivated by a Glaswegian in a sleepy backwater – to pander to the national stereotype – hope appeared in miniscule supply heading to Anfield.
A view reinforced as Craig Bellamy and Stewart Downing searched for Luis Suarez at every opportunity with Steven Gerrard and Charlie Adam supplying the ammunition.
Yet for all Liverpool's aristocratic artistry, Norwich's collective resolve and commitment to a unifying cause carried the day.
More than once during what felt like a season-defining display, the red tide threatened to submerge. Norwich could have gone under at numerous points; shipped a confidence-puncturing number of goals. Woodwork, mixed with last ditch defending and inspired keeping, ensured they didn't.
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Lambert offered a rare glimpse into the inner workings of what happens on the shop floor when he revealed afterwards belief was the half-time theme after Bellamy's late strike had given Liverpool the barest return for their undoubted domination.
The City chief had smelled fear amongst his players during an early assault triggered by Martin Skrtel's header from Adam's vicious corner that cracked John Ruddy's bar. No wonder. Gerry Marsden's call to arms that rang around Anfield prior to kick-off carried an added note of poignancy.
The Kop morphed into one giant, impeccably choreographed mural reaffirming the desire for justice to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy in the wake of last week's historic parliamentary debate.
It's the indelible tie that binds supporters to a club that remains, despite a barren search for a 19th league title, one of British football's most impressive institutions. Embodied in the modern day presence of fit-again captain Steven Gerrard. A Huyton-bred lad to whom the word talisman feels woefully insufficient. Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett stood at the end of the Norwich line as Gerrard led his men in the obligatory pre-match rituals as thousands of Liverpool scarves – and more than the odd Norwich one – were held aloft to embellish Marsden's refrain.
Try imagining what was running through the minds of City's wide boys when Gerrard thrust out his hand. Pilkington was ten years old, Bennett nine, when Gerrard first burst onto the Premier League scene. Surreal does not cut it.
Gerrard is still finding his way back from a long term groin injury. That much was clear from his latest shift. The explosive bursts from midfield and the routine superman cameos will return in due course.
If less frequently as he reaches the later years of a decorated career – but Gerrard is still the heartbeat of Kenny Dalglish's red masterplan.
City's own version emerged from the shadow of the Main Stand 56 minutes into a televised contest that underlined why the Premier League is the most popular sporting spectacle on the planet. Grant Holt is his name.
The Canaries' reigning double player-of-the-year may have been usurped by Steve Morison in recent weeks as Lambert and his staff searched for a formula that extracted the most from his unproven top flight cast list – but be in no doubt Holt is still the leader.
Lambert wanted belief. Norwich fans packing the Anfield Road End and those watching from further afield craved renewed hope. Holt provided both.
A man who wears his superhero pants on the inside. City abandoned the formation that had brought three wins in the last four. Bennett made way. Wes Hoolahan switched to the left. Pilkington moved to the right. Holt was introduced to partner Morison. All three were involved in the equalising goal on the hour mark. Fresh evidence were it needed City have a manager at the helm with the tactical nous and cool head to flourish even in the whitest heat of battle. Holt bravely only had eyes for Pilkington's inviting centre as Pepe Reina and Jamie Carragher converged in a mid-air meeting of muscle.
There was almost a sense of inevitability regarding the outcome as the ball thudded against Holt's forehead and rippled the empty net in front of the Kop.
A raised-bat-to-the-pavilion of a moment for Norwich's number nine to bring up a century of outings in the green and yellow.
Holt will know himself he could have had a second when Pilkington appeared on the opposite flank to pick out the unmarked striker at the back post. Reina's parry earned none of the headlines lavished on Ruddy.
Rightly so. Lambert labelled it world class in his post-match press briefing.
A phrase over used in football these days. Lambert, however, is not given to hyperbole. He employed it again during the pre-match build up to describe the playing career of the man facing him across the technical area on Saturday.
Dalglish was the scourge of defences at home and abroad in a devastating partnership with Ian Rush.
Suarez and Andy Carroll might command the price tags, but they don't have the pedigree of the men who went before. Substitute Carroll's horribly miscued close range header flew wide from Gerrard's driven cross in stoppage time. City had been able to repel the Uruguayan's threat all evening.
When the excellent Leon Barnett was slipped, Suarez found Ruddy in his path. When the big man was beaten, the paintwork came to Norwich's aid. After a week when Suarez found himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons the script was surely written.
Gerrard again delivered when it mattered with a cross so precise Suarez simply had to lift his right foot to re-direct goalwards. Ruddy thrust up an arm to change the trajectory.
Not just of the shot but the game. Maybe even the season. Maybe even the St Ives' man's short term career path.
Should Ruddy maintain his current level of performance in City's upcoming Premier League games against Blackburn and Aston Villa it would take negligence bordering on the criminal from England manager Fabio Capello to omit him for the November friendlies against Spain and Sweden.
Turkish-based Scott Carson and Fulham's Ipswich loanee David Stockdale were the Italian's chosen understudies to undisputed first choice Joe Hart for the recent Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro. Ruddy and his Norwich team mates continue to flourish on the Premier League stage.
On this form he deserves a chance for his country. Capello may have been absent at Anfield. Blackburn's Steve Kean was not, although the Rovers' chief had already departed before Ruddy's piece de resistance.
Lambert's fellow Glaswegian had no doubt seen enough. Kean will arrive at Carrow Road this weekend needing more than hope in his heart to arrest a slide that sees his side propping up the rest.
Norwich under Lambert right now look a match for anyone in the Premier League.