Premier League
Liverpool3Cardiff1

Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff City

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez (right) volleys in against Cardiff at Anfield

Luis Suarez helped Liverpool move top of the league with a win over Cardiff, as doubts remain over the future of Bluebirds manager Malky Mackay.

Mackay is in conflict with owner Vincent Tan and saw his side go behind through an 18-yard Luis Suarez volley.

Suarez, who signed a contract extension on Friday, set up Raheem Sterling for a tap-in and curled in a shot before Jordon Mutch headed in for Cardiff.

Cardiff manager Malky Mackay

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Support 'humbles' Cardiff boss Mackay

The visiting fans stayed after the game to chant their support for Mackay.

The Bluebirds boss stood on the Anfield pitch for some time after the final whistle and applauded his side's supporters, many of whom were holding up banners against Tan.

There had been doubts as to whether Mackay would be in the dug-out for the game after being told in the week to resign or face being sacked by Tan, who was at the match.

But despite the owner discussing his manager's future with chairman Mehmet Dalman at a meeting on Friday night, Mackay was in charge for a game which resulted in Cardiff's eighth defeat of the campaign.

The home side made sure they did not get distracted by the sideshow surrounding the game, and Suarez's performance came on the back of the 26-year-old signing a new four-and-half-year deal with the in-form Reds.

Liverpool have scored 17 goals in their last four league games and, depending on the result between Arsenal and Chelsea on Monday, they could head the top flight at Christmas for the first time since 2009, when they went on to finish second. The last time the Reds were top at Christmas and won the league was in 1987-88.

Cardiff started the game promisingly and went close early on when a swift counter attack resulted in Mutch playing a ball though to Craig Noone, whose 22-yard shot was palmed over by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool responded with a Suarez shot being deflected wide and a well-struck Sterling effort being blocked before they eventually broke through the Bluebirds blockade.

Joe Allen laid the ball off to Jordan Henderson on the left side of the area and he crossed for Suarez, who had initiated the move, to volley past keeper David Marshall for his 18th league goal of the season.

The Reds almost doubled their lead only to be twice denied by the post. First, Philippe Coutinho gathered a short Suarez corner, burst into the area and saw his angled shot come back off the woodwork.

Right-back Glen Johnson's cross then found left-back Jon Flanagan and his first-time side-foot came off the face of the same post before Marshall cleared.

The chances began to flow for Liverpool and after Henderson released Suarez with a piercing outside-of-the-boot pass, the Uruguayan squared for Sterling to tap in.

Suarez added an impressive third just before the break, latching on to the tireless and improving Henderson's backheel to curl a low shot into the bottom corner.

Cardiff reacted by putting the Anfield side under pressure in the second half and were rewarded with a goal when Mutch was left unmarked to steer in a header from Peter Whittingham's free-kick.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

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Suarez is a remarkable man - Rodgers

The visitors might have had a penalty for Reds centre-back Martin Skrtel holding Steven Caulker but referee Lee Probert saw no foul.

Liverpool regrouped and regained their grip on the game and, after Sterling's shot was saved, Suarez struck the follow-up against the outside of the post as the home side claimed an 11th league win of the season.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers:

"Luis Suarez was outstanding again in a very good team performance. The fluency of our football in the first half was excellent, and our pressing is now at a really high level.

"We started the second half brightly, but are disappointed with a slack goal.

"I do not think about the title. I still believe it is for Manchester City to lose. We stay calm."

See a photo gallery of all the action from Saturday's Premier League matches on the BBC Sport Facebook site.

Line-ups

Liverpool

  • 22Mignolet
  • 2Johnson
  • 38FlanaganSubstituted forKellyat 55'minutes
  • 21Lucas
  • 37SkrtelBooked at 41mins
  • 17Sakho
  • 24Allen
  • 14Henderson
  • 7Suárez
  • 31SterlingBooked at 72mins
  • 10CoutinhoSubstituted forAggerat 83'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Jones
  • 4K Touré
  • 5Agger
  • 6Luis Alberto
  • 9Iago Aspas
  • 12Moses
  • 34Kelly

Cardiff

  • 1Marshall
  • 28Théophile-Catherine
  • 3A Taylor
  • 8MedelSubstituted forCampbellat 55'minutes
  • 4Caulker
  • 6Turner
  • 16Noone
  • 18Mutch
  • 11OdemwingieSubstituted forKim Bo-kyungat 55'minutes
  • 17GunnarssonSubstituted forCorneliusat 80'minutes
  • 7Whittingham

Substitutes

  • 5Hudson
  • 9Cornelius
  • 10Campbell
  • 13Kim Bo-kyung
  • 19Cowie
  • 32Lewis
  • 42John
Referee:
Lee Probert
Attendance:
44,621

Match Stats

Home TeamLiverpoolAway TeamCardiff
Possession
Home69%
Away31%
Shots
Home27
Away10
Shots on Target
Home7
Away3
Corners
Home9
Away5
Fouls
Home11
Away13

Live Text

Match ends, Liverpool 3, Cardiff City 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Liverpool 3, Cardiff City 1.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Ben Turner.
Attempt missed. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Luis Suárez following a corner.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Craig Noone.
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Kévin Théophile-Catherine (Cardiff City).
Foul by Raheem Sterling (Liverpool).
Kévin Théophile-Catherine (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jordan Henderson.
Attempt saved. Luis Suárez (Liverpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Raheem Sterling with a through ball.
Glen Johnson (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Kévin Théophile-Catherine (Cardiff City).
Attempt missed. Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Craig Noone with a cross.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Daniel Agger.

Substitution

Substitution, Liverpool. Daniel Agger replaces Philippe Coutinho.
Attempt missed. Luis Suárez (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jordan Henderson following a fast break.
Attempt missed. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Luis Suárez.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Kévin Théophile-Catherine (Cardiff City).
goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLGDPts
1Liverpool1711332336
2Man City1711243135
3Arsenal1611231635
4Chelsea1610331433
5Everton168711231
6Newcastle17935230
7Man Utd17845828
8Tottenham16835-627
9Southampton16664524
10Stoke17566-421
11Swansea16556120
12Hull17557-620
13Aston Villa17548-619
14Norwich17548-1419
15Cardiff17458-1217
16West Brom17377-516
17West Ham17359-814
18Crystal Palace174112-1613
19Fulham174112-1713
20Sunderland172411-1810
View full Premier League table

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