Liverpool conceded twice in the opening 25 minutes but shook off their slow start to beat relegation-threatened Cardiff 6-3. It was worrisome at times, but familiarly, Liverpool overcame their defensive lapses through relentless goal scoring. Luis Suarez netted a hat-trick, Martin Skrtel scored twice, and Daniel Sturridge added another as Liverpool put on a clinical finishing display.
The match began disastrously with Jordan Mutch opening the scoring for Cardiff after a Joe Allen give away. Allen and Gerrard struggled in the first half, and the defense didn't mark particularly well. The left side of the defense was especially porous over the opening minutes, with John Flanagan looking a bit lost at times.
No worries down 1-0 though. Liverpool immediately captured control of possession, patiently passing it around the Cardiff area, and made the key pass when the opportunity presented itself. Jordan Henderson found a darting run from Glen Johnson behind the Cardiff back line and Johnson's ensuing cut back gave Suarez a simple tap in.
With Liverpool level, it was easy to think that the Reds were wide awake and could quickly get another. The defense had other ideas however, and a shocking bit of defending from Daniel Agger allowed Frazier Cambell to retake the lead for the hosts. With Cambell running at him, Agger allowed the forward to easily cut inside before firing past Mignolet, and down 2-1, more sincere worries formed for Liverpool.
Calls for a substitution began around this time, with many fans hoping for the insertion of Raheem Sterling. Rodgers in turn showed patience as he allowed his starting squad to figure itself out, and Skrtel poked a Coutinho cross into the net to level Liverpool once again.
For all the nerves that were shot over the first 45, the second half was a far more enjoyable experience. Cardiff were briefly down to nine men after two injuries, and Skrtel made them pay for their lack of bodies by heading a corner past David Marshall, who could only play spectator to Liverpool's third goal.
Marshall played spectator three more times before the match finished as Liverpool mercilessly poured forward. Suarez made it four for the Reds after Sturridge set him up with a magical back heel flick, and the favor was returned 15 minutes later when Suarez assisted a Sturridge tap in on another flowing counter attack that was started by a Glen Johnson long ball. Sterling was brought on for Coutinho and Aly Cissokho came in for John Flanagan as Rodgers crippled tired Cardiff with his side's fresh legs.
Jordan Mutch scored a consolation goal to bring the score to 5-3, but Liverpool's goal differential was righted through a last gasp Suarez goal (his third) after the Uruaguyan was allowed in on goal by some poor Cardiff defending. It was shakier than it needed to be, but Liverpool still earned a three goal victory in Wales, keeping pace with Chelsea who destroyed Arsenal earlier in the day. The sheer insanity that every match has brought this season and the run that the team is on is truly something special, and we should all be savoring it.
|Shots (On Target)||19(9)||9(3)|
-Skrtel was awesome today. An all around good performance, and the defensive issues weren't really his fault.
-Finally Johnson is playing like he wants a new contract. Even though his future remains highly in question, it's been nice to see two consecutive positive performances from him.
-I liked how the midfield rebounded from a poor first half to play much better football when Cardiff tired. There's lots of running between Hendo and Allen, and opponents are struggling to keep up for the full 90.
-SAS are too good.
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