Sterling stepped into the boots vacated by the injured Sturridge as Norwich succumbed to the SAS parternship.
Raheem Sterling scored twice as Liverpool took a stranglehold of the Premier League title race with an 11th consecutive league win against Norwich at Carrow Road.
The young England starlet’s blistering shot was followed by Luis Suarez’s 30th goal of the season as the Reds opened up a 2-0 lead inside 11 minutes.
Gary Hooper halved the deficit momentarily before Sterling’s deflected finish seemed to have put the game beyond the Canaries.
Robert Snodgrass’ header provided a nervy finish for Brendan Rodgers’ side, but they managed to hold on to move five points clear at the summit following Chelsea’s surprise 2-1 home defeat to Sunderland.
Buoyed by that helping hand at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool began the game as determined as Norwich were drowsy.
Sterling jinked inside Bradley Johnson and unleashed an unstoppable 30-yard drive via Michael Turner’s shin inside four minutes.
Seven minutes later, Sterling turned provider for Luis Suarez to stroke his 11th goal in five games against Neil Adams’ side.
The magnitude of the task facing the home team only seemed realised nine minutes into the restart as Hooper tapped into the unguarded net following Simon Mignolet’s poor punch.
The reprieve lasted eight minutes as Sterling latched onto Johnson’s slack pass before a heavy deflection sent his shot looping over the hapless Ruddy.
Snodgrass rose above Jon Flanagan with 13 minutes remaining to restore Norwich hope but Ricky van Wolfswinkel couldn’t complete the turnaround as his point-blank header was saved.
Victory against Chelsea next Sunday would leave Liverpool on the brink of their first title since 1990, while Norwich remain perilously placed above the relegation zone with a trip to Manchester United next.