Fresh from the news out of Anfield Friday that Liverpool had signed star forward Luis Suarez to an improved long term contract, the Uruguayan went on to put in a virtuoso performance as he led his club to another solid victory.
Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff City
Suarez 25', 45' Mutch 58'
Equally intriguing was Cardiff City's managerial situation, with Malky Mackay taking his place in the dugout despite rumours of Saturday being his last day in charge. It all provided an incredible backdrop for the early Premier League kick off.
Some good early pressure came from Liverpool, twice threatening through captain Suarez, after good work from midfielders Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling.
Cardiff looked bright themselves though, counter attacking through Craig Noone, and the winger cut back on to his left from range to force Mignolet into a save.
Liverpool maintained good tempo and pressure throughout the first few minutes with Suarez, Henderson and Sterling looking particularly bright on the ball. On 25 minutes, Liverpool broke into the box, Jordan Henderson found the time to look up and find Suarez just outside of it, and the Uruguayan volleyed expertly home.
Five minutes later, Cardiff could have had a penalty when Steven Caulker was held back by Martin Skrtel as he threw himself at a Peter Whittingham free kick, only for Lee Probert to wave play on.
Coutinho then hit the post following a corner, producing an outstanding piece of skill to beat his man from wide before a snap shot saw David Marshall saved by his near post.
Skrtel then headed just over following a free kick from the left, as Liverpool continued to push Cardiff back. Another chance came from a counter attack down the right, that found a rampaging run by Jon Flanagan whose shot was just cleared off the line by a desperate Marshall.
Raheem Sterling was destroying his left-back for the second week in a row, tormenting Andrew Taylor with his pace and quick feet.
And it was no surprise when Liverpool added a quick fire double just before half-time, essentially killing the game off as a contest, with both strikes created through the brilliance of Luis Suarez. First of all, he ran from his own half to get on the end of a decent Jordan Henderson through ball, before unselfishly cutting back to Raheem Sterling to tap in. There were, however, suspicions of offside as the England winger may have been just ahead of Suarez when he laid the ball off.
And just three minutes later, and with Cardiff looking all at sea, Suarez scored again, curling the ball into the far corner as the ball broke to him just outside the area.
Liverpool start the second half well, pinning Cardiff back immediately and seeing several opportunities fall just short.
But the flow of the game soon changed. A raft of substitutions came as early as the 55th minute from both clubs, and this diffused some of the impetus and drive of the Liverpool play. Before the new players could settle, a Cardiff free kick found Jordan Mutch unmarked, and his header bounced past Mignolet.
The goal and the disruptions injected a new lease of life into Cardiff's game, with one of the substitutes, Frazier Campbell, causing plenty of problems for the Liverpool defence. The Welsh club continued to look threatening from set-pieces, which they were winning plenty of, and Skrtel again held back Caulker for what looked like a stonewall penalty.
For the last few minutes, Cardiff pushed forward looking for another goal, while Liverpool changed their approach to try and benefit on the counter. Suarez and Sterling had several chances to re-establish their 3 goal lead, but their was to be no fifth goal in the match, and both Suarez and Mackay could leave Anfield proud of their team's performance.
The win took Suarez and Liverpool top, who knows where the result will leave the Cardiff manager.
image: © Viking-