Shaqiri calls the tune for Liver­pool

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Sam Wal­lace CHIEF FOOT­BALL WRITER at An­field

Even­tu­ally the goals came for Jur­gen Klopp’s team, and by the end they were cut­ting loose like a team who have won eight in an un­de­feated league sea­son so far which puts them, for now at least, back at the top of the Pre­mier League.

They had blitzed Cardiff early on with a goal from Mo­hamed Salah within 10 min­utes, and the pos­ses­sion­count nee­dle stayed above 80 per cent for much of the match, a dom­i­nance ex­em­pli­fied by a first half in which there were 412 Liver­pool passes to Cardiff ’s 35.

There were two goals from Sa­dio Mane and two as­sists from Salah to go with his goal, yet it was tempt­ing to go with sub­sti­tute Xher­dan Shaqiri, scorer of the third, as the game’s out­stand­ing player.

The Swiss mae­stro came on only af­ter 61 min­utes, his con­sid­er­able chest puffed out, full of de­ter­mi­na­tion to make up for lost time. Af­ter a week of singing Shaqiri’s praises, Klopp had dropped him in favour of try­ing to get a tune out of Adam Lal­lana.

Shaqiri of­fered a vi­sion in mid­field that Liver­pool had been lack­ing till then. The sub­sti­tute’s goal was well taken, and he has made a strong case to start against Arse­nal next Sat­ur­day.

“We don’t know Shaq long enough to know how he re­acts,” Klopp ex­plained. “We have to pro­tect him un­til we know him bet­ter. It was good to start Adam. He worked very hard in the first half.”

The first An­field away goal in 10 league games stopped Liver­pool set­ting what would have been a club record for con­sec­u­tive clean sheets in the league. When Cal­lum Pater­son di­verted in Ju­nior Hoi­lett’s cross, he scored the first goal at An­field by an op­po­si­tion player in the league since Michail An­to­nio got one for West Ham in a 4-1 home win on Feb 24.

“Eerie” was how Warnock de­scribed the quiet in An­field in the min­utes that fol­lowed, al­though it did not last long.

Timely in­ter­ven­tion: Sub­sti­tute Xher­dan Shaqiri in­spired Liver­pool to a rous­ing fi­nale against Cardiff

It had threat­ened to be a swift and bru­tal con­clu­sion to the game as a con­test, and Salah’s goal felt like it would be the first of many. It was Liver­pool’s third at­tempt in the space of a few sec­onds as the home team blocked, headed and re­sisted un­til the ball dropped to the Egyp­tian’s left foot.

Cardiff then de­fended deep and there was lit­tle or no pres­sure on the ball when their op­po­si­tion had it, which was most of the time.

“We had to cre­ate and cre­ate and cre­ate. That is re­ally hard work,” Klopp said.

Mane scored his first on 66 min­utes, in­ex­pli­ca­bly al­lowed to twist and turn his way into a shoot­ing po­si­tion, and fir­ing with his left foot. Vir­gil van Dijk de­flected the cross for Pater­son’s goal, a move started by Bobby Reid.

Shaqiri then made space from Salah’s pass to shoot into the cor­ner, be­fore Mane ran onto Salah’s through ball to score the fourth.

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