Sloppy defending coupled with exquisite finishing was the order of the day as Liverpool and Cardiff City served up a nine goal treat to keep the fans on the edge of their seats and make problems for those with coronary complaints. Two goals a piece for Jordon Mutch and Martin Skrtel, a Luis Suarez hat-trick and a goal each for Daniel Sturridge and Frazier Campbell provided the entertainment in a thrilling match.
As with most a Liverpool fans, I was confident of a win and didn’t really expect to see Cardiff register one goal, let alone three. The first from Mutch was equally down to poor defending – yet again from Liverpool, as it was the quality finishing from Mutch. Following a suicide back pass from Joe Allen that allowed Frazier to play the ball into the path of the scorer. The amount of space allowed by the Liverpool defence, and the apparent reluctance to press on the edge of the box was again Liverpool’s failing. However less than ten minutes later, Liverpool were level. Jordan Henderson’s ball into space for the overlapping Glen Johnson who’s centre was tapped in easily by Suarez at the near post. 1-1.
On 25 minutes Liverpool were again guilty of leaving gaps in the defence large enough fir a No. 36 bus to breach. Campbell done exactly that and latched onto the pass from the impressive Mutch to cut across the visitors’ shambolic defence to slide home his sixth Premiership goal of the season and the hosts’ second. 2-1. Liverpool responded by trying to get balls in behind the Cardiff defence and thus began to turn the tide of the game. As half time approached one sensed Brendan Rodgers’ men would recover and, recover they did as Skrtel poked home to level on 41 minutes from Philippe Coutinho’s dangerous ball into the home team’s penalty box. 2-2.
The break gave the visitors a chance to regroup, regain focus and play in a manner more befitting of a team challenging for the league title. Through similar fashion to the equaliser, and again through Skrtel with his second of the game, heading home from Coutinho corner. 2-3. After that, it was the Suarez and Sturridge show. The SAS as they’ve now come to be known, swept aside the home side with some devastating link-up play between them. As clinical as the formidable, stealth-like unit after which they’ve been nick-named. And, I’d like to add, far more so than any previous impostors with the same name!
Sturridge picking up the effervescent Johnson’s centre and playing an audacious back-heel pass in to the stride of Suarez… 2-4. Following another 15 minutes of continued pressure, the deadly duo struck again. Johnson’s 40-yard pass on 75 minutes turned defence into attack and found Suarez moving into the vacant left side flank. His neat control and strength was too much for the marking City defender and as he raced through, Sturridge was on hand to meet his partner’s centre and tap in. 2-5. If there was any doubting the outcome of this encounter, surely it was erased now. The visitors were out of site.
Mutch grabbed what can only be considered a consolation in the 88th minute, heading in Kenwyn Jones headed lay off but by now, the damage was done and there was no way back for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side from here. 3-5. No sooner had the home side clawed back a modicum of respect, the SAS struck again on 90 minutes to close the proceedings in style. A long punt upfield from Skrtel found Suarez again in acres of space on the left flank. As he dribbled toward goal with only the keeper to beat, the following was inevitable. A little shimmy and a drop of the shoulder. 3-6.
There’s no doubting that Liverpool made this unnecessarily difficult for themselves in the opening stages. The amount of space afforded to the home side was unforgivable and deserving of being punished twice. Young Jon Flanagan will surely learn from that as both errors came from his eagerness to get forward. There also appears to be a reluctance, on occasion for Liverpool to close opposition players down on the edge of their own box. For what, the good Lord only knows. What we all know though, is that this has to stop if and more likely when, they are facing the quality opposition that will inevitably arrive with playing in the Champions League.
For now, Liverpool remain in the mix and a 19th title is certainly not beyond them. As Brendan Rodgers said after the game when asked if he’s “Got to say now you can win the league?”, his response was, quite rightly “No, we’ve got to say we’ve gotta win the next game, and that’s our focus”. Never a truer word said. The focus in now on Wednesday night at 8pm when Sunderland come to Anfield. Let’s see where we are after that.
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