Kenny Dalglish bemoans Liverpool profligacy as Norwich City hold firm

• Kenny Dalglish says Liverpool must learn to finish teams off
• Grant Holt comes on to secure point for Norwich

Screams from the front row of the directors' box told of a torturous finale for Delia Smith and the Norwich City board. Then, once Andy Carroll headed wide from six yards and John Ruddy foiled Luis Suárez once again, came euphoric release and handshakes with the Liverpool supporters whose ear-drums she had assaulted. One year ago Blackpool were the newly promoted entertainers accepting the congratulations of Anfield. Norwich may not have emulated their success but nor do they look on course to repeat their ultimate failure.

Kenny Dalglish spoke of an all-too-familiar hard luck story for Liverpool on Saturday and he had a point. Up to a point. His side created 29 attempts on goal, struck the woodwork three times and Suárez endured the kind of game that shows even the finest strikers are not immune from despair. Yet if fortune favoured Paul Lambert's team, which is questionable as the only attempt Liverpool managed to convert owed plenty to a deflection, then it was earned.

Ruddy, the former Everton reserve goalkeeper, was inspired. Bradley Johnson and the outstanding Wesley Hoolahan formed a midfield axis reminiscent of Blackpool's heartbeat of David Vaughan and Charlie Adam last season. The relentless movement of Suárez and Dirk Kuyt may have stretched the Norwich defence to breaking point at times, as that pairing can do to most Premier League teams, but a combination of strength, spirit, luck and quality kept it together. Most impressive, however, was Norwich's composure and adventure in possession throughout, traits that did their manager no harm during his European Cup and title-winning days at Borussia Dortmund and Celtic.

"There is a belief in this group," said Lambert. "We have a team of very good players. They were lower league players but they are earning the right to play in this league. They've got ability, that's for sure. They are not lower league players now. They were two years ago but they are not now. They have to sustain that, though, and not take anything for granted because football has a habit of coming back and biting you. There is an awful long way to go but if they stay humble and keep their desire then these lads will hopefully make names for themselves."

Few epitomise the rise better than Grant Holt and Ruddy. Lambert responded to Craig Bellamy's first league goal for Liverpool since his return on deadline day, converted after Suárez had beaten Russell Martin to a long ball and via a deflection off Marc Tierney, with a bolder second-half display and the introduction of the former non-league striker. Three minutes after his arrival, Holt beat Jamie Carragher, Glen Johnson and José Reina to provide a true centre-forward's header to Anthony Pilkington's perfect cross, and Norwich had the reward they had threatened on their visits to Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford.

"I've never played at Anfield before and it was an incredibly special moment to score a goal like that, especially at the Kop end," said the former Workington, Halifax and Barrow striker. "The manager has instilled in us the idea that we have to go and get wins to do well in this division, so we'll try that, even at places like Anfield and Old Trafford."

Ruddy twice denied Suárez superbly, leaving Lambert to press the England credentials of a goalkeeper who made just one substitute appearance in five years at Everton but who, at only 24, is on his 12th club following nine loan moves while on the books at Goodison Park. The first permanent, first-team spell of his career is paying clear dividends but only added to the frustration for Dalglish.

Seven days previously a 1-1 draw at home against a team managed by a European Cup-winning Scot – Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United – was seen as a mark of progress. Not this one. Anfield was bewildered by its team's profligacy and the manager's substitutions, with both wide men, the dangerous Bellamy and the disappointing Stewart Downing, withdrawn before Carroll appeared with 10 minutes remaining, sufficient time to add his name to a catalogue of damaging misses.

The Liverpool manager reflected: "We've got to be careful we don't get into the habit of saying we are playing well but we've got a point. We've got to start finishing teams off. The reason why we didn't get three points was in our own hands."

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