LIVERPOOL, England (AP) After dashing across England through the night to see the birth of his son, Norwich captain Russell Martin made it back to Liverpool in time to play on Sunday – and scored to secure a 1-1 draw.
Martin’s goal after a sleep-deprived day canceled out Danny Ings’ first goal for Liverpool, which is now winless in four games.
The 29-year-old defender traveled from eastern England to the northwest on Saturday with his third child not due until next week.
But Martin received the call at 8 p.m. on Saturday that his wife was going into labor. He left three hours later to make journey of around 230 miles by road to Norwich and arrived at the hospital around 4 a.m. His wife gave birth at 9 a.m. to a boy and he immediately hitched a lift with the club owners on a plane back to Liverpool.
”There are more important things than football and I wanted to be there for the birth of my son, but it would have hurt to miss the game,” he said. ”I’ve not slept a wink. I tried to sleep on the plane but it was a bit choppy. So I’m pleased to get through the game. I was running on empty towards the end.”
But Martin was alert enough to react in the 61st minute to flick the ball into the net after goalkeeper Simon Mignolet flapped at a corner. It took the gloss off Ings’ first goal for Liverpool since joining from Burnley in the summer transfer window, three minutes after coming on as a halftime substitute.
”To get a goal as well was obviously a very special day for me and something to tell my little boy when he’s older,” Martin said.
The draw kept promoted Norwich level on points with Liverpool but two places higher in 11th due to its superior goal difference.
After taking seven points from its opening three matches, Liverpool has just one from the last three in the league to sit seven points adrift of leader Manchester City.
It’s been equally frustrating in the Europa League, opening against Bordeaux with a 1-1 draw on Thursday.
One bright moment for Liverpool on Sunday was Daniel Sturridge playing for the first time since April following hip surgery.