BRAVE BLUEBIRDS BEATEN
Battling display at Anfield Warnock’s men show their spirit but Liverpool are just too good
CARDIFF City did something no Premier League side had managed since February in breaching Liverpool’s defence at Anfield, but their valiant effort was killed off with a ruthless finish from the hosts.
Sadio Mane’s brace inspired Jurgen Kiopp’s side to a 4-1 victory, though Cardiff had briefly dreamed of snatching a point after Callum Paterson’s goal made it 2-1.
That strike ended a run of 918 minutes since West Ham got a goal in Liverpool’s backyard.
Mohamed Salah and Xherdan were also on the scoresheet for the Reds in a compelling contest on Merseyside.
After a patient start, Liverpool pounced in the 10th minute when Salah capitalised on a missed clearance from Sol Bamba and swept home after Sean Morrison had blocked Mane’s shot.
The Reds then came close to a second within three minutes of the first, Virgil Van Dijk beating Bamba in the air and striking the woodwork after latching onto Salah’s cross.
It was a chastening first half for the Cardiff defence, Bamba in particular struggling to contain the quicksilver Liverpool attack.
Neil Etheridge made an excellent double intervention to stop Salah after a catastrophic error from Bamba after 20 minutes but otherwise, despite Liverpool’s overwhelming first half dominance, the Cardiff keeper didn’t have a shot to save.
It was actually Morrison’s head which kept Cardiff in the contest on the stroke of half-time as the captain nodded off the line to prevent the hosts doubling their lead.
Cardiff improved after the break. They had the ball in Liverpool’s net on 52 minutes, only for Morrison to be flagged offside after nodding home from Victor Camarasa’s freekick - via a touch from Bamba.
That seemed to embolden the visitors who started to press Liverpool into making the odd mistake.
There were two big penalty shouts for Liverpool in the second half, both
for handball, but referee Stuart Attwell waved them away.
Cardiff then paid the price for more indecisive defending, Mane smashing into the far corner after Bruno Manga was wrong-footed.
But the visitors kept fighting and were rewarded 12 minutes from time when Paterson poached at the back post and turned home Junior Hoilett’s deflected cross to make it 2-1.
That looked to set up a grandstand finish with Cardiff searching for a famous equaliser.
Instead substitute Shaqiri slotted a fine finish beyond Etheridge before Mane added a fourth to seal it for Liverpool - but not after Cardiff had given them a real fright.
Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk gets away from Cardiff scorer Callum Paterson
Sadio Mane celebrates his second and Liverpool’s fourth goal at Anfield yesterday