Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff City: Reds go top after convincing victory
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Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff City: Reds go top after convincing victory

Liverpool moved to the top of the Premier League table after seeing away Cardiff City 4-1 to open a three-point gap between champions Manchester City.

Joshua Kerr

Liverpool moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League table as they comprehensively dispatched Neil Warnock's struggling Cardiff City in a comfortable 4-1 victory.

Sadio Mane netted a second-half brace to seal the win for the Reds as the Senegalese ace also took his Premier League tally to 50.  

Mohamed Salah rekindled his goalscoring prowess to open the proceedings after his 10th-minute strike made it four goals in his last three appearances for the Reds. 

Callum Paterson gave the hosts a scare 13 minutes from time to bring the Bluebirds back into the clash and also became the first player to score at Anfield in the league since February 24.

However, substitute Xherdan Shaqiri restored the two-goal cushion with his first goal for the club before Mane emphatically chipped Neil Etheridge to seal the points.

Reds ease first-half with complete control

Liverpool began the contest with total authority dominating possession with a whopping 85 per cent of the ball that ensured the Bluebirds were firmly kept out of the contest.

Salah put the Reds ahead with an early strike when his left-footed follow-up made it back-to-back goals in the league for the first time this season, taking his tally to seven in all competitions.

Virgil van Dijk was announced as skipper on the day thanks to a player vote in mid-week and almost doubled the Reds advantage when his header clattered against the post minutes after Salah's opener.

Adam Lallana was enjoying a return to fitness starting just his second league match of the season and the Englishman came close to his first goal of the campaign when he was denied by Sean Morrison's headed clearance off the line as the Reds dominated for long spells.

Goals galore in enthralling second period

Despite dominating early proceedings this was not vintage Liverpool, though Mane’s finish for 2-0, hammered home left-footed on 66 minutes, was one to admire.

The former Southampton star bagged his first league goal since September 1st with a devastating finish that should have seen the Reds plain sailing for the rest of the contest.

However, Paterson ensured there were a few jitters among the home fans with an opportunist strike that ended Liverpool's 918 minutes without conceding a league goal.

Shaqiri replaced Lallana with 15 minutes left to play and the Swiss international fired home his first Liverpool goal after Salah’s pass and Shaqiri’s confident finish in front of the Kop calmed any late nerves.

There was still time for more as Salah claimed his second assist of the match sending Mane through to finish deftly past Etheridge in the Cardiff goal and earn Mane his second league brace of the season.

The Welsh outfit proved a sturdy and well-organised unit for large periods of the game and Warnock will be pleased with his player's efforts. 

The Bluebirds can also take fortune in them being the side to end the Reds impressive defensive home record that dated all the way back to February. 

Warnock said midweek it would be “virtually impossible” for his side to beat Liverpool, and it's fair to say he was right.

With testing trips to Arsenal and Belgrade to come, this was a significant win for the Reds, and could prove a victory more than just claiming another three points. 

Momentum is growing and the team are rekindling their attacking prowess to devastating levels as the Reds were on the scoresheet four times for the second game running.

All eyes will now be on that Monday night fixture when Manchester City travel to Wembley to face Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs in the hope that the result there will keep Klopp's side at the summit of the Premier League table.