Premier League
LiverpoolLiverpool3CardiffCardiff City1

Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff City

By Mandeep SangheraBBC Sport
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.

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.

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."

Line-ups

Liverpool

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

Substitutes

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

Cardiff

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

Substitutes

  • 5Hudson
  • 9Cornelius
  • 10Campbell
  • 13Kim
  • 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

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Liverpool 3, Cardiff City 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Liverpool 3, Cardiff City 1.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Ben Turner.

  4. Post update

    Attempt missed. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Luis Suárez following a corner.

  5. Post update

    Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Craig Noone.

  6. Post update

    Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Kévin Théophile-Catherine (Cardiff City).

  8. Post update

    Foul by Raheem Sterling (Liverpool).

  9. Post update

    Kévin Théophile-Catherine (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jordan Henderson.

  11. Post update

    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.

  12. Post update

    Glen Johnson (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Kévin Théophile-Catherine (Cardiff City).

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Craig Noone with a cross.

  15. Post update

    Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Daniel Agger.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Liverpool. Daniel Agger replaces Philippe Coutinho.

  17. Post update

    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.

  18. Post update

    Attempt missed. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Luis Suárez.

  19. Post update

    Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Kévin Théophile-Catherine (Cardiff City).

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Liverpool17113342192336
2Man City17112451203135
3Arsenal16112333171635
4Chelsea16103332181433
5Everton1687127151231
6Newcastle179352422230
7Man Utd178452820828
8Tottenham168351521-627
9Southampton166642015524
10Stoke175661721-421
11Swansea165562221120
12Hull175571420-620
13Aston Villa175481723-619
14Norwich175481529-1419
15Cardiff174581325-1217
16West Brom173771823-516
17West Ham173591422-814
18Crystal Palace1741121127-1613
19Fulham1741121734-1713
20Sunderland1724111230-1810
View full Premier League table

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