Luis Suarez celebrated the inking his new long-term deal at Anfield on Friday by following it up with his eighth multi-goal game of the campaign.
The Reds were all over the Welsh visitors from the off, with Malky Mackay’s job at risk after a rather public row between the Bluebirds manager and club owner Vincent Tan, as they came away with nearly 70% possession in a win that turns up the pressure on Arsenal and Chelsea.
Brendan Rodgers’ men now sit one point in front of the Gunners and three ahead of the Blues, with the pair due to meet in a crunch clash at the Emirates on Monday.
Here are the player ratings from the game...
Simon Mignolet - 6/10
Didn’t have much to do throughout, making just two saves on the day. Couldn’t really have done more to keep out Jordan Mutch’s bouncing header in the second half.
Glen Johnson – 6.5/10
Solid, if unspectacular. Got forward when necessary and tracked back to limit space available in defence. A functional display.
Martin Skrtel – 7/10
Quite proactive in closing down Cardiff from start to finish. Barely put a foot wrong in possession with a 97% pass accuracy clip. Hardly let Peter Odemwingie out of his sight.
Mamadou Sakho – 7/10
Made a pair of minor errors that didn’ ultimately prove to be costly in showing his age, but physically imposed himself at all other junctures to repress the Bluebirds’ attack.
Jon Flanagan – 6.5/10
Another promising performance from the 20-year-old, who continues to show maturity beyond his years. Made the left flank his before coming off on 55 minutes to afford game time to Martin Kelly.
Joe Allen – 7/10
Looked quite adept defensively with five tackles and added a bit of flair going forward. Has begun to justify himself in the Liverpool squad of late.
Lucas Leiva – 7.5/10
Served as the hub of the side in central midfield, having the most touches of anybody on the pitch and directing traffic from the heart of Rodgers’ side. Only further proved how important his presence is to the Reds’ success thus far.
Jordan Henderson – 8.5/10
Yet another one of the Northern Irishman’s charges starting to express himself at Anfield. Played a superbly confident 90 minutes to assist Suarez on each of his goals with equal style and lethality.
Raheem Sterling – 8.5/10
Ran rings around Gary Medel and had the entire Cardiff lineup chasing shadows. Made use of his pace and skillful feet to trouble defenders at will. Produced a neat finish to cap off a clinical counter attack to grab his third goal in four games.
Luis Suarez – 9/10
What else can be said of the Uruguay international? His form has simply reached levels unattainable by almost all footballers as he hit his 18th and 19th goals of the Premier League campaign on just his 12th appearance. A pleasure to watch, both strikes were of the highest order.
Philippe Coutinho – 8/10
Enjoying his football at Anfield in turning potential into action. Wasn’t as influential as usual with Sterling and Henderson stepping up on the day, but showed his qualities and was denied a goal of his own only by the woodwork.
Daniel Agger – n/a
Came on for the final seven minutes for Coutinho just to add defensive solidity.
Martin Kelly – 6.5/10
Saw a 35 minute run-out with the game already out of reach. Did what was asked but didn’t have any particular impact on proceedings.
image: © ekilby