Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff: Sadio Mane brace and strikes from Mohamed Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri send Jurgen Klopp’s side top of the Premier League table
- Liverpool survive a scare against Cardiff to move back to the top of the Premier League table
- Mohamed Salah scored his fourth goal in three games from close range to give Liverpool a 10th minute lead
- Adam Lallana almost doubled the score on the stroke of half-time but his header was cleared off the line
- Sadio Mane finally gave Liverpool a two-goal cushion with a fierce left-footed strike into the bottom corner
- Cardiff halved the deficit after Callum Paterson pounced on a low cross played into the penalty area
- But late strikes from Xherdan Shaqiri and a second for Mane made sure of the three points for Liverpool
Before the season began, Neil Warnock said he was looking forward to meeting Jurgen Klopp when his Cardiff City team visited Anfield.
He thought for a second about what he had said and then qualified it. ‘I’m looking forward to meeting him,’ he said, ‘but I’m not particularly looking forward to playing his team.’
Warnock has been perfecting nice lines in self-deprecation this season as Cardiff fight for scraps but on Saturday his fears about playing Liverpool were confirmed. His team fought and fought to keep Klopp’s unbeaten side within reach but in the closing stages, Liverpool cut loose and leapfrogged Manchester City to go top of the table.
Sadio Mane scores his second goal of the game to put the icing on the cake for Liverpool in their win over Cardiff
Sadio Mane is embraced by Xherdan Shaqiri after scoring his second goal of the afternoon in the 4-1 win over Cardiff
Xherdan Shaqiri makes space for himself in the Cardiff penalty area before slotting the ball into the bottom corner
Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates with a delighted Mohamed Salah after latching onto the Egyptian’s ball into the area
Xherdan Shaqiri receives the acclaim of the Kop after scoring his first goal for Liverpool as they went back top of the table
Sadio Mane lets fly with his left foot to double Liverpool’s lead against Cardiff in the 66th minute of the game
Sadio Mane celebrates in front of the Kop after firing his sixth goal of the season with a blistering shot into the bottom corner
Mohamed Salah slams home from close range for Liverpool to give them a 10th minute lead over Cardiff
Mohamed Salah celebrates with his arms outstretched after scoring his fourth goal in his last three games
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND MATCH ZONE
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson 6: Alexander-Arnold 7, Lovren 7, Van Dijk 7, Moreno 6.5: Lallana 6 (Shaqiri 61mins 7), Fabinho 7, Wijnaldum 7: Salah 8, Firmino 6 (Milner 71mins 6), Mane 7.5
Subs not used: Mignolet, Gomez, Sturridge, Robertson, Matip
Goalscorers: Salah 10, Mane, 66, 87, Shaqiri, 84
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 7
Cardiff (4-4-2): Etheridge 7: Manga 6, Morrison 6, Bamba 6, Bennett 6: Hoilett 6, Camarasa 6.5, Gunnarsson 6.5 (Damour 73mins 6), Murphy 6 (Harris 74mins 6): Reid 6 (Zohore 83mins), Paterson 6.5
Subs not used: Smithies, Connolly, Cunningham, Madine
Goalscorers: Paterson 77
Manager: Neil Warnock 6
Referee: S Attwell 6
Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah
Season at a glance
- Live tables
- Premier League
- Premier League
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
Xherdan Shaqiri nets his first Liverpool goal from Mohamed Salah’s through ball .CLICK HERE for more from MATCH ZONE
Cardiff did manage to score the first league goal at Anfield since Michail Antonio scored for the visitors in the 59thminute of a 4-1 victory over West Ham on February 24.
That ruined Liverpool’s hopes of establishing an outright top-flight club record of 10 consecutive home clean sheets. Another 4-1 win against Cardiff softened the blow.
And so Liverpool march on, locked in an enthralling top of the table battle with the other unbeaten sides, City and Chelsea, who play on Sunday and Monday. Their defence, which has only conceded four goals all season, was majestic once again. And when the attack exploded into life, as it almost always does, the match was over.
For most of the game, this was football as a formality. Liverpool were so dominant, the result was never in doubt and the best of the entertainment came in moments of flair and odd statistics.
For flair, it was hard to beat Firmino lying on the floor near the Liverpool corner flag and still managing to nutmeg an opponent with a backheel.
And for the statistic, how about this: Wijnaldum completed more than twice as many passes (69) as the whole Cardiff team (34) in the first half.
One other is worth thinking about: Liverpool have completed more than a quarter of their season now and so are, technically at least, on course to beat the record of only 16 goals conceded by their Liverpool predecessors in 1978-79.
It’ll be a stretch but even to be thinking about it shows how far this Liverpool defence has come.
Jurgen Klopp and Neil Warnock embrace on the touchline ahead of kick-off at Anfield between Liverpool and Cardiff
Cardiff’s Victor Camarasa looks to get the visitors going as Adam Lallana tracks his opponent’s run
Mohamed Salah is almost in on goal for Liverpool but Neil Etheridge gets out quick to smother his effort
Liverpool felt they should have had a penalty shortly afterwards when Sean Morrison brought Salah down in the area
Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren stands his ground as Victor Camarasa looks for a way through for Cardiff
Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno was making his first Premier League start of the season ahead of Andy Robertson
Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum looks to twist away from Cardiff’s Bruno Ecuele Manga in the first half
Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk captained Liverpool for a second game in succession on Saturday afternoon
Roberto Firmino performs a remarkable backheel nutmeg through Victor Camarasa while down on the ground
Liverpool put Cardiff under pressure from the start and it was only 10 minutes before they took the lead. Salah started the move, backheeling the ball to Alexander-Arnold and when Cardiff failed to clear his fiercely driven cross, it bounced around the area before falling to Salah, who sidefooted it past Etheridge.
Liverpool sensed Cardiff’s vulnerability and three minutes later, Salah drove a long pass forward to Van Dijk, Liverpool’s skipper for the day, and his header beat Etheridge but cannoned off the outside of a post.
Etheridge had to rush from his line to deny Salah again and a minute later, Salah had an appeal for a penalty turned down. Cardiff were under siege.
The rest of the half turned into a stalemate. Liverpool attacked, Cardiff defended. Liverpool dominated possession, Cardiff broke it up on the edge of their own box. Very occasionally, Cardiff counter-attacked but never with quite enough conviction to endanger the Liverpool goal.
It was only in the closing seconds of the half that Liverpool came close to extending their lead. Moreno, in the side to give Robertson a rest, curled a ball into the box and Lallana met it unmarked at the back post. He headed it back across Etheridge towards the corner of the net but it was nodded off the line by Morrison.
When the second half began, though, Morrison gave Liverpool a scare at the other end when he helped to bundle the ball into the home side’s goal. As the Cardiff fans in the Anfield Road End celebrated, the linesman’s flag ruled the goal out for offside.
The match resumed its familiar pattern but midway through the half, as Liverpool appeared to be heading into a dead end of Cardiff challenges, they got the goal that seemed to have put the match out of reach.
Trent Alexander-Arnold looks to take the ball past Cardiff’s Aron Gunnarsson before getting a shot off on goal
Trent Alexander-Arnold nips in to try and win the ball ahead of Cardiff’s Aron Gunnarsson in the second half of the game
Jurgen Klopp issues instructions to Xherdan Shaqiri as he prepares to bring on the Swiss winger for Adam Lallana
Callum Paterson celebrates with his team-mates after pulling one back for Cardiff with 13 minutes left on the clock
As Liverpool tried to find a way through the forest of defenders’ legs, Mane broke one tackle and then another before unleashing a vicious left foot drive past Etheridge.
Liverpool threatened to cut loose again briefly but after a flurry of substitutions, Cardiff startled Anfield by pulling a goal back. They got a touch of luck when Hoilett’s cross was deflected into the path of Paterson by the outstretched boot of Van Dijk but Paterson steered it past Alisson with aplomb and Cardiff, improbably, were back in the game.
Salah should have done better with an attempted chip when Etheridge was caught way off his line but six minutes from the end, another assist from the Egypt forward finally put an end to Cardiff’s resistance.
He cut in from the right and played a short ball to substitute Shaqiri. A lovely swerve from Shaqiri sat Morrison on the turf and Shaqiri passed the ball into the corner.
A minute later, Liverpool were further ahead. Fabinho won the ball inside his own half and freed Mane. Mane fed Salah who slid the ball back to him and Mane lifted it deftly over Etheridge to finish Liverpool’s afternoon with a flourish.
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