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December 21, 2013
• Anfield, Liverpool
Referee: L. Probert
• Attendance: 44621
L. Suárez 25', 45'
R. Sterling 42'
J. Mutch 58'
So, Liverpool move to the top of the Premier League while Cardiff remain four points above the relegation places. Liverpool return to Premier League action on Boxing Day when they face a tricky trip to Manchester City while Cardiff host Southampton. Thanks for joining me, Max Bentley, on this live commentary. Until next time, goodbye.
Malky Mackay applauds both sets of fans and receives a good send-off in response. The next 24 hours may well determine his future at the club but his side showed excellent spirit in that second period.
Luis Suarez has scored for the sixth successive game at Anfield to inspire Liverpool to another three points and strengthen their title credentials. Raheem Sterling also popped up on the scoresheet before Jordon Mutch's second half consolation.
FT: Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff City. Brendan Rodgers' side go top of the Premier League.
90' + 4'
Suarez is still snooping around for his hat trick and he looks to sell Turner with his customary nutmeg only for the defender to anticipate the danger excellently and concede a corner.
90' + 2'
The chance of a Cardiff comeback appears to have fizzled out and Liverpool are the side pushing for another goal. Sterling watches his shot from the edge of the box well blocked before Sakho just misses Suarez's cross at the back post.
GOOD SAVE FROM MARSHALL! Mutch sloppily gifts possession to Sterling who threads a neat ball through for Suarez. The Uruguayan looks to arrow a left-footed shot into the bottom corner for his hat trick but the Cardiff shotstopper produces a firm hand to deny the Uruguayan. Just the two for Suarez today it seems.
It seems that Liverpool are heading to the top of the Premier League as they enjoy a sustained spell of possession late on. Brendan Rodgers really has done a magnificent job so far this season.
It's been a second half full of character from Cardiff and their fans have shown their appreciation. I wonder what Vincent Tan will make of this performance.
Agger's first contribution is to concede a corner but Whittingham's delivery on this occasion is too deep and Skrtel flicks the ball away. Noone picks up the ball on the far side and his teasing cross is glanced narrowly wide by Caulker.
Brendan Rodgers is certainly wary of the Cardiff attacking threat and he attempts to see out the win by replacing Philippe Coutinho with Daniel Agger who takes the armband off Suarez.
Coutinho continues to search in earnest for his goal but it eludes him once more as his right-footed shot flashes wide of the left post. Moments later, Suarez looks to wrap up his hat trick but sends a curling effort inches past the upright.
Craig Noone has put in a good shift for Cardiff today but he cannot reduce the deficit further as he drags his shot wide of the target after finding space outside the box.
Aron Einar Gunnarsson
Malky Mackay makes his final substitution and it is an attacking one as Andreas Cornelius replaces Aron Gunnarsson.
Joe Allen's search for his first league goal for Liverpool continues as he sends a header over the bar from Coutinho's corner.
Let-off for Liverpool! Campbell has been lively for Cardiff since coming on and he chases Lucas down before making a sliding challenge which allows him to run through one-on-one. However, the striker is harshly denied by Lee Probert who deems that the striker fouled Lucas. I think he got that decision wrong.
SUAREZ HITS THE POST! Sterling gets in behind Taylor for the umpteenth time to meet a precise ball over the top. However, Marshall spreads himself excellently to deny the England youngster rounding him before Suarez is denied his hat trick as he strikes the post from an acute angle.
Theophile-Catherine produces a brilliant challenge to prevent Johnson from getting his cross into the box and from the resulting corner, Suarez overhits his delivery. Looking back at that recent goalmouth scramble, Skrtel is a lucky boy that he did not concede a penalty. The Slovakian defender had his paws all over Caulker.
Yellow CardRaheem Sterling
Sterling becomes the second Liverpool player to be booked after a late challenge on Whittingham. That's his third yellow of the season.
Cardiff are certainly not giving up hope of a comeback and they win another corner when Noone's shot is deflected behind. Whittingham's delivery causes mayhem inside the penalty box but Sakho just manages to scramble the ball clear.
Suarez is sniffing around for his hat trick and he glides into the box excellently before his shot is deflected over the bar by Turner. The Cardiff defenders look terrified of touching him.
Taylor has looked shaky for Cardiff all afternoon and he nervously scampers Henderson's low cross behind for a corner. However, from the resulting set-piece Theophile-Catherine produces a good header to clear the danger.
Whittingham to Mutch is becoming an increasingly familiar combination and once again the midfielder finds space at the back post but cannot direct his header towards goal. Whittingham then sends another teasing free kick into the box but Turner's header is well held by Mignolet. What a difference that goal has made!
There is a different feel about Cardiff now and the introduction of Campbell has certainly made an impact, with his pace stretching the defence. The visiting fans begin to chant their support for their manager to which the Liverpool fans applaud.
The volume has increased in the away section as Cardiff win a corner. It's the same combination again as Whittingham picks out Mutch but he heads over the crossbar. That was a good chance for Cardiff.
Another goal for Cardiff here could really change the complexion of this tie. The Cardiff fans are chanting "4-3, we're going to win 4-3!"
CARDIFF PULL ONE BACK! Malky Mackay hardly flinches on the touchline as his side reduce the deficit. Whittingham delivers a brilliant cross towards the back post where Mutch is unmarked to head across Mignolet and into the far corner. That's poor marking from Liverpool.
Malky Mackay has seen enough and he makes a double substitution with Frazier Campbell and Kim Bo-Kyung replacing Peter Odemwingie and Gary Medel. Brendan Rodgers also decides to make a change, replacing Jon Flanagan with Martin Kelly who has recently recovered from a long-term injury.
Since going behind Cardiff have offered little attacking threat and Whittingham makes a rare burst down the left wing before sending his cross straight out of play. Malky Mackay is readying his substitutes on the touchline.
Coutinho is looking to get on the scoresheet and he lines up a shot from the edge of the box which he sends narrowly wide of the post. Moments later, the ball falls to Henderson a way out but he scuffs his shot well wide of the target.
It's all Liverpool at the start of this second half and Cardiff are yet to venture into the opposition half. Is it time to seriously consider Liverpool as title contenders?
Incidentally, Cardiff have not scored in their previous four away games.
Liverpool are showing no signs of relent at the beginning of the second half and moments after Turner clears Flanagan's dangerous low cross, Sterling sends a fizzing shot narrowly wide.
The players re-emerge from the tunnel and an unchanged Cardiff side get the second half underway. Can they give their fans something to cheer?
Half-time stat: Luis Suarez has now scored ten goals in December, making him the first player in Premier League history to net double figures in a single month.
HT: Liverpool 3-0 Cardiff. Brendan Rodgers' side are rampant at the break after a sensational half of football. Luis Suarez will no doubt grab the headlines after scoring two and setting up the other but it has been a wonderful team performance. Jordan Henderson has enjoyed a brilliant 45 minutes and has had a hand in all three goals while Raheem Sterling's performance will also be impressing Roy Hodgson. This is certainly not what Malky Mackay needs at the moment. It could be a long afternoon for Cardiff fans.
WHAT A GOAL FROM SUAREZ! It's another special goal from the Uruguayan! Henderson is once again at the heart of it as he plays a brilliant backheel into the path of Suarez who curls a wonderful shot beyond Marshall's reach and into the bottom corner. A sensational finish!
Suarez is continuing to terrorise Premier League defences and he comes close to snatching his second when he meets a cross from the right before firing narrowly wide.
STERLING MAKES IT 2-0! The second goal was certainly coming and Sterling makes it his third goal in four games. Henderson's glorious outside-of-the-foot pass catches out the Cardiff high line and Suarez races through onto goal before unselfishly squaring for Sterling who taps into an empty net. It is no less than Brendan Rodgers' side deserve.
Yellow CardMartin Skrtel
Martin Skrtel picks up the first booking of the game after a late challenge on Mutch. He can have no complaints about that one.
HOW MANY MORE CHANCES DO LIVERPOOL WANT? The Cardiff goal is living a charmed life at the moment and once again the threat comes down the Liverpool right. Johnson gallops forward from right-back and advances into the box with the ball but his touch is too heavy at the crucial moment and Marshall comes out to gather.
GOOD SAVE FROM MARSHALL! Cardiff are looking rattled here and they have their goalkeeper to thank as he produces a fine save to parry Sterling's drive after the youngster had got in behind Taylor once again.
SO CLOSE FOR FLANAGAN! The defender scored his first goal for the club in the 5-0 mauling of Tottenham last week and he nearly makes it two in two as he meets Johnson's cross at the back post but his shot from a narrow angle is hacked off the line.
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR LIVERPOOL! Skrtel should be doing better there. Flanagan lofts an inch-perfect cross into the box and the Slovakian defender meets it with a firm header but cannot keep it down and nods the ball over the crossbar.
COUTINHO HITS THE POST! The Brazilian is denied a special goal as he produces a wonderful turn to deceive Medel on the edge of the box. He attempts to catch out Marshall at his near post but watches his shot cannon back off the upright.
Suarez never gives the opposition defenders a second to rest and he nearly capitalises upon Caulker's hesitation but the former Tottenham centre-back just manages to recover to hack the ball clear.
CHANCE FOR CARDIFF! Whittingham floats a teasing cross to the back post but Skrtel does just enough to deny Caulker from getting on the end of it. The Cardiff players appeal for a penalty as they feel Caulker is having his shirt tugged but Lee Probert waves away the appeals.
This is an important phase of the game for Cardiff here as they cannot afford to let the floodgates open. Allen bursts his way towards the edge of the box but his attempted through ball for Sterling is crucially cut out by Taylor.
LIVERPOOL TAKE THE LEAD! GUESS WHO? Luis Suarez celebrates his contract extension with his 18th league goal of the season. Jordan Henderson is the architect as he dinks a wonderful cross into the box where Suarez finds himself unmarked to volley the ball expertly into the bottom corner. Brilliant finish from the league's in-form striker.
Odemwingie is making his 100th Premier League appearance today but he has been relatively isolated up front for Cardiff so far. However, Malky Mackay will be happy as his side have performed well to frustrate this free-scoring Liverpool side.
Coutinho is always looking to make that incisive pass but on this occasion his attempt is just too far ahead of Henderson, who had made a clever run. The Brazilian playmaker will be hoping that his impressive club performances will be recognised with an international call-up ahead of the World Cup.
TURNER TO THE RESCUE! Sakho cushions Suarez's cross down for Sterling on the edge of the box but the youngster's rasping effort is blocked bravely by the Cardiff captain. Sterling certainly hit that one!
LIVERPOOL GO CLOSE! Coutinho's clever pass picks out Suarez on the edge of the box and he wriggles away from Turner before his shot deflects off Caulker and goes behind for a corner.
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR CARDIFF! Jordon Mutch has made a bright start for the Bluebirds and he rises above Henderson to meet Whittingham's corner but can only glance his header wide of the post.
GREAT SAVE FROM MIGNOLET! Cardiff launch a swift counter attack with Mutch and he looks up to see Noone who is steaming forward down the right. The 26-year-old shifts the ball inside onto his left foot before his curling effort is palmed behind by the Liverpool goalkeeper. That was a good move from the visitors.
Cardiff are closing Liverpool down quickly and Sakho sloppily gifts the ball straight to Mutch. However, he decides to shoot from an ambitious distance, only to see his effort trickle out of play near the corner flag.
Liverpool keep up the early pressure and Cardiff have Theophile-Catherine to thank as he produces a crucial header to prevent Coutinho from meeting Suarez's delightful outside-of-the-foot cross.
Although these two sides last met in the league back in 1959, they did meet in the 2012 League Cup final when Liverpool triumphed on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Cardiff have been a threat from set-pieces this season and they win the game's first corner when Mutch's cross is deflected behind by Flanagan. However, from the resulting delivery, Odemwingie is adjudged to have fouled his marker.
Sterling has made a bright start for Liverpool and he races in behind Taylor before cutting the ball back for Suarez. The Uruguayan sees his shot well blocked by the Cardiff left-back before Coutinho slices a shot wide of the target.
Cardiff enjoy their first meaningful attack of the game when Mutch dances his way down the right but his chipped cross into the middle is well claimed by Mignolet.
Liverpool can go top of the Premier League with a win and incidentally, they were the last team to be top at Christmas but fail to win the league - under Rafa Benitez in 2009.
GOOD START FROM LIVERPOOL! Allen's clever pass sets Sterling clear down the right and his low cross is scrambled nervously away by Caulker. Henderson then tests Marshall with a low drive before Suarez's half-volley goes into the side-netting.
Lee Probert blows his whistle and Liverpool get the game underway. Can Suarez continue his stunning form in front of goal? Let's find out...
A typical rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" sounds out around Anfield as the players enjoy a last-minute warm-up. Kick-off awaits...
The two sides emerge from the tunnel and receive a wonderful reception from both sets of supporters. Liverpool, led out by Luis Suarez, are in their traditional red jerseys with Cardiff in their not-so-unfamiliar alternative blue strip.
The last time these two teams met in the league was Bill Shankly's debut game in charge - a 4-0 win for Cardiff at Anfield back in December 1959.
Super Stat: Luis Suarez has scored 17 league goals this season, five more than the entire Cardiff squad AND he missed the first five matches of the season. Is he now the best player in the Premier League?
As for Cardiff, Malky Mackay makes just one change from the 1-0 win over West Brom last Saturday as midfielder Aron Gunnarsson replaces striker Fraizer Campbell. Former Liverpool attacker Craig Bellamy is on the bench.
Brendan Rodgers names an unchanged side to the team which thumped Tottenham at White Hart Lane last weekend. Jon Flanagan retains his place at left-back having scored his first goal for the club in that rout whilst Joe Allen continues to deputise in the absence of the injured Steven Gerrard. Luis Suarez will be hoping to mark his contract extension with a goal and he has scored eight goals in his previous three matches.
CARDIFF (4-2-3-1): Marshall, Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, Taylor; Medel, Gunnarsson; Noone, Mutch, Whittingham; Odemwingie.
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Flanagan; Lucas, Allen, Henderson; Coutinho, Sterling, Suarez.
Without further ado, here are today's lineups...
However, the Cardiff players will need to make sure that they are not distracted by the club's off-field problems as they face a Liverpool side who have scored 20 goals in their last five games at Anfield. The statistics do not bode well for Malky Mackay's side who have not scored in their previous four league away matches.
As for Cardiff, they have been on the back pages for all the wrong reasons this week with owner Vincent Tan handing manager Malky Mackay a resign or be sacked ultimatum. It is safe to say that the news has not gone down well with the Bluebirds support who have brought a number of banners to Anfield to vent their discontent. So far I have spotted the messages "We want our club back" and "Tan Out". It's bound to be a frosty encounter this afternoon.
There is certainly reason to be cheerful if you are a Liverpool fan this Christmas. Brendan Rodgers' side can go top of the Premier League with a win today and the Anfield faithful are bound to be in fine voice after Luis Suarez signed a new long-term contract at the club to end months of transfer speculation. Today, they host a Cardiff outfit who have impressed since their return to the top flight and it is set to be another test of Liverpool's title credentials.
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