Liverpool returned to the highest of the Premier League however had been made to work exhausting for victory at relegation-threatened Cardiff Metropolis.
Jurgen Klopp’s facet needed to be affected person as they dominated a dogged Cardiff facet, who had possibilities of their very own to trigger an upset.
Liverpool made the breakthrough in spectacular style, as Georginio Wijnaldum met Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low nook with a thunderous first-time effort which threatened to interrupt the online.
The wild celebrations spoke of the guests’ reduction, and so they needed to negotiate some nervy moments, most notably a staggering miss by Cardiff captain Sean Morrison, who miscued a header with the purpose at his mercy.
Issues then acquired worse for Morrison, who conceded a penalty after grappling with Mohamed Salah, and substitute James Milner confidently transformed the spot-kick to seal victory for the guests.
Cardiff stay within the relegation zone, three factors adrift of security.
Liverpool, in the meantime, restore their two-point lead on the high of the desk over Manchester Metropolis, who play their recreation in hand away at Manchester United on Wednesday.
The Liverpool profitable machine marches on
The final time Liverpool had been in Wales’ capital metropolis in 2014, Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick in a 6-Three thrashing of a Cardiff facet managed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and destined for relegation.
That chaotic encounter was symptomatic of Liverpool’s title problem that season: thrilling and brimming with targets but additionally missing the defensive fortitude of champions.
The Reds in the end fell brief – however this time it has been a special story.
There are nonetheless twists and turns to come back on this absorbing title race however Liverpool now have the tightest defence within the Premier League.
A report of conceding solely 20 targets in 35 video games has allowed them to go toe-to-toe with a Manchester Metropolis facet extensively considered one of many biggest to have graced this competitors.
Liverpool are a strong, affected person, profitable machine today – their previous 5 league victories had come due to second-half targets, and so they needed to bide their time right here as effectively.
Klopp’s facet imposed themselves instantly, monopolising possession and pinning their opponents again in their very own half.
Their fabled entrance three all had probabilities to attain within the first half: Roberto Firmino firing over when clear by way of on purpose, Sadio Mane flicking a first-time effort over and Salah seeing a low shot smothered by Neil Etheridge.
Cardiff, nevertheless, had been standing agency, with centre-backs Morrison and Bruno Ecuele Manga marshalling a sturdy defensive show from the hosts.
Liverpool didn’t panic and ultimately engineered a approach by way of their opponents with what appeared to be a pre-planned transfer, with Alexander-Arnold’s low nook steered in direction of the onrushing Wijnaldum, who swept in an emphatic end.
Klopp’s facet had probabilities to increase their lead – with Jordan Henderson spooning one significantly good one over – however this was one other medical show, Milner’s penalty making it 9 successive wins in all competitions for the Reds.
Cardiff dig in however fall brief
In a season when the battle for Premier League survival has largely appeared a foregone conclusion – with Huddersfield relegated in March and Fulham in early April – Cardiff have been decided to buck the pattern.
Written off by many in the beginning of the marketing campaign, the Bluebirds gave the impression to be all however down earlier than producing a show of nice will and resolve to beat relegation rivals Brighton on Tuesday and revive their hopes of staying up.
Neil Warnock and his gamers like nothing greater than to show individuals fallacious and, though they had been rank outsiders on this event, Cardiff had been in no temper to easily sit again and admire as their opponents continued to hunt a primary league title in 29 years.
The house facet needed to defend deep and in numbers as Liverpool bossed possession and territory; Warnock’s prices tenaciously caught to their activity within the face of fixed strain.
Cardiff weren’t with out an attacking menace themselves, with winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing demonstrating his pace and trickery to beat Alexander-Arnold thrice contained in the opening half-an-hour.
The Bluebirds had been near taking the lead shortly earlier than the break, with Oumar Niasse – on mortgage from Everton – athletically hooking in direction of purpose with a volley that was effectively saved by Alisson.
That gave the house crowd some hope and, even after Liverpool went forward, Cardiff had their moments.
Solely Morrison will know the way he managed to overlook with a near-open purpose on the again publish, the centre-back mistiming his dive and seemingly hitting the ball together with his again.
His subsequent main involvement was to show the tip of Cardiff’s hopes of snatching a degree from this recreation, as he grappled with Salah and conceded the penalty that Milner transformed to depart Cardiff three factors behind 17th-placed Brighton, with three video games to play – one fewer than the Seagulls.
Man of the Match – Joel Matip (Liverpool)
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