"You have to say that's magnificent," went Barry Davies's famous piece of commentary after Diego Maradona followed up his Hand of God swindle against England in 1986 with one of the greatest goals of all time. A similar sentiment could have been expressed at Carrow Road after Luis Suárez's performance. This, of course, was merely a mid‑table Premier League skirmish rather than a World Cup quarter-final but the South American's display made it a special occasion and even those who dislike him – and the chants directed at him by Norwich City fans suggested that many such people were present here – had to acknowledge he is a delightful talent.
Even if he had not been embroiled in a racial abuse scandal with Manchester United's Patrice Evra this season, Suárez would be unpopular among rival fans. He is a player who unashamedly pushes limits – of the laws of the game and of the powers of defences. His gleeful last-minute handball for Uruguay against Ghana at the last World Cup was denounced as immoral, as is his perceived penchant for luring referees into giving him free-kicks. Alongside that, however, is his ability to confound defenders with skills they cannot legislate against. If he had not been guilty of bad finishing so often this term - and if he had had more reliable support - then he would surely have been challenging to be the Premier League's top scorer. As it transpires, he seems to be finding his shooting form just in time to antagonise Chelsea in the FA Cup final on 5 May .
Suárez's ninth and 10th league goals of the season were splendid, as he fired emphatic shots past John Ruddy after Liverpool capitalised on Norwich blunders. His 11th league goal, which gave him his first hat-trick for Liverpool since joining from Ajax in January 2011, was simply extraordinary. Elliott Ward erred on halfway to gift Suárez possession but the striker still had more than 45 yards to go to reach the goal: to the bewilderment of Ruddy, he made the ball do all the work by lobbing it over the goalkeeper and into the net. It was a perfect finish, to give Liverpool fans hope of a triumphant end to the season. "He's a fantastic footballer, nothing he does surprises you," said Kenny Dalglish. "Whether it's his vision, a pass, a shot, a goal or a cross, it doesn't surprise you. People of his ability are blessed."
Before the Wembley showdown, the outcome of which will go a considerable way towards determining whether this has been an acceptable Liverpool season, Dalglish's team must host Fulham in the league on Tuesday night and Dalglish has to judge whether the temptation to play Suárez is stronger than the temptation to rest him for Saturday. It is a decision he does not think he should have to make, just as Chelsea's Roberto Di Matteo should not be required to select a side to take on Newcastle on Wednesday. "I think someone needs to have a look at the fixture schedule because the only people that don't seem to be taken into consideration are the players and the demands on them," said Dalglish, who insisted, nonetheless, that he will deploy a strong lineup against Fulham. "We'll pick a team that will do this club justice. We've conducted ourselves with a great deal of dignity and commitment to every cup competition and league game we've played in and I don't see why we'd change that."
As for Norwich, their thoughts are beginning to turn to next season. Their manager, Paul Lambert, anticipates another long battle to stay in the league. "I don't know how far Norwich can go, I really don't," he said. "We've had a lot of success over the last three years but we're competing in a different ball game in this league because the finance dictates everything. You have to try to compete with everybody else – on a given day you can compete with them but over the course of the season you can't, that's the reality of it. We're always playing catch up."