Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League table with a Luis Suarez-inspired 3-1 win over Cardiff after an enthralling 90 minutes of action at Anfield.
Two first-half goals from the Uruguayan – who penned a mega money contract extension at the club yesterday – either side of a Raheem Sterling tap in (also set up by Suarez) saw the Reds enter interval with a comfortable lead. The second period was a completely different affair, as Malky Mackay’s men enjoyed the better of the final 45 minutes, pulling a goal back through Jordon Mutch.
Despite the comfortable scoreline for the home side, it was Cardiff who started the game the brighter of the two sides.
Craig Noone tested Simon Mignolet with a fine curling effort, which the Belgian dived to keep out of his net. Mutch then came close with a free header from the ensuing corner, as the visitors looked threatening.
However, Suarez then provided the moment of magic on 23 minutes to break the deadlock. The deadly South American volleyed home superbly from the edge of the area after Jordan Henderson’s looping cross dropped onto his right boot.
From here the Reds surged into control of the game, with both Philippe Coutinho and Jon Flanagan rattling David Marshall’s right-hand post.
Liverpool then doubled their advantage after 41 minutes, with Suarez this time turning provider. The number seven raced clear from the half-way line, before unselfishly feeding Sterling to tap home.
Then with Cardiff looking to get in for half-time just the two goals down Suarez struck again, curling home from outside the area following a neat exchange of passes with Henderson.
After a bright start to the last 45 minutes, Cardiff pulled a goal back through Mutch, who nodded past the home stopper after a Peter Whittingham free-kick.
The Bluebirds continued to dominate, and despite having a penalty claim turned down looked the more likely side to net the fifth goal of the afternoon, but almost let Suarez secure his hat-trick with an effort that struck the post.
The away side were unable to pull another goal back, as Liverpool held firm to secure a vital three points, which sees them leapfrog Arsenal to take top spot in the Premier League. Meanwhile Cardiff stay 15th, but could drop lower if other results go against them.