Final, 6-3 Liverpool: It’s all over at Cardiff City Stadium. Liverpool takes home all three points after an emphatic victory over the Bluebirds.
The Reds needed two goals to become the highest-scoring team in club history (in the Premier League era). They got six. Suarez, Skrtel and Sturridge led the way with clinical finishing in the first half and an attacking explosion in the second.
Liverpool dashed Cardiff City’s hopes of winning the game within 15 minutes of the start of the second half. Skrtel’s header forced the hosts forward, which created more space for Liverpool’s band of attacking stars. When Suarez scored Liverpool’s fourth, it made the following goals almost inevitable. Liverpool dominated from there and had the goals to reflect its advantage.
Cardiff City lost focus and aggression, qualities that helped it start the game so well, after Suarez’s second goal of the afternoon. It conceded again, and Mutch’s late goal merely softened the scoreline in what turned out to be a one-sided game.
Saturday’s victory helps Liverpool tighten its grip on second place and stay just four points behind Chelsea (with a game in hand). Liverpool is unbeaten in league play in 2014 and have now one six straight games in England’s top flight.
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96th minute, 6-3 Liverpool: Suarez scores again to complete his hat-trick.
Cardiff City was on the attack but made an errant pass, which Skrtel launched forward to Suarez.
Cala should have got to it first, but he failed to deal with it and tripped once Suarez arrived. Suarez was one-on-one against Marshall and rolled his finish underneath the goalkeeper.
Sterling was also on the scene, but Suarez took the goal for himself as he has done more than any other player this season.
92nd minute, 5-3 Liverpool: Skrtel is booked.
Sakho comes on for Sturridge, as Rodgers looks to close out the game.
88th minute, 5-3 Liverpool: Mutch scores his second goal of the afternoon, cutting Liverpool’s lead down to two goals.
Theophile-Catherine ventured forward and lofted a cross to Jones. The big striker chested it down to Mutch, who finished the move from close range.
The Bluebirds are running out of time to mount a monumental comeback.
78th minute, 5-2 Liverpool: Zaha runs onto Jones’ header and shoot, but his effort sails wide.
75th minute, 5-2 Liverpool: Sturridge scores a Liverpool’s fifth goal of the afternoon. The Reds are running rampant at Cardiff City Stadium.
Liverpool broke forward after Caulker made a wayward header. Suarez arrived to the loose ball first and set up his strike partner, who tapped it in from close range.
70th minute, 4-2 Liverpool: Cardiff City brings on Jones for Bellamy, who leaves to a rousing ovation from both sets of fans.
65th minute, 4-2 Liverpool: Both managers are making changes.
Cardiff City brings on Daehli and Zaha for John and Kim.
Liverpool replaces Coutinho with Sterling.
Skrtel will need to find another provider if he is to get that hat-trick, as Coutinho set up both of his goals.
60th minute, 4-2 Liverpool: Suarez doubles Liverpool’s lead.
Johnson drove a cross into the area. A defender deflected it, and it fell to Sturridge, who set up Suarez with a crafty back-heel pass. Suarez fired it home with ease to give Liverpool a two-goal lead.
It was Suarez’s league-leading 27th goal of the season.
55th minute, 3-2 Liverpool: Sturridge nearly makes it four, but his shot goes just wide (left) of Marshall’s goal.
54th minute, 3-2 Liverpool: Skrtel heads Liverpool into its first lead of the game.
The Liverpool defender met Coutinho’s corner with a flashing header, which floated into the goal at the far post.
The goal will be a controversial one, as Cardiff City was down to nine men at the time. Mutch and Theophile-Catherine were getting medical treatment, and the Reds punished their hosts’ numerical disadvantage.
50th minute, 2-2: Fabio is cautioned for a foul on Sturridge.
46th minute, 2-2: The second half is underway.
Halftime, 2-2: A hectic first half comes to end with the score tied at 2-2.
Cardiff City started brightly, going forward with speed and aggression. It wasn’t a great shock when the hosts were able to breach the Liverpool defense. Campbell and Mutch have been the Bluebirds’ most dangerous players, having combined on the left to put their team ahead on two occasions.
Defensively, Cardiff City has sat deep and stayed compact in the middle, but this allows Liverpool to exploit the space on the wings.
In responding to both Cardiff City goals, Liverpool showed why its attack has both resilience and record-breaking quality. The Reds have had good spells of possession and created a number of scoring chances. Both goals came from the right side, as well-placed deliveries meet the perfectly timed runs of Liverpool players.
It’s likely that Rodgers will move Suaresz or Sturridge out wide and push Coutinho further forward in order to create even more danger from wide areas. The Liverpool boss must also provide more protection for Flanagan, who has struggled to contain Cardiff City attackers on the left side.
45th minute, 2-2: Skrtel’s goal makes this Liverpool team the highest-scoring in club history — and the Reds will play eight more games after this one.
41st minute, 2-2: Liverpool defender Skrtel ties the game a finish that most strikers would be proud of.
Coutinho whipped in a cross from the right after Kim failed to close him down. Skrtel beat his marker to the ball and poked it out of the air past Marshall from close range.
37th minute, 2-1 Cardiff City: Marshall saves Sturridge’s shot.
Sturridge dribbled into the area and took a right-footed shot. There were a number of Cardiff City defenders in the way, and the ball took a slight deflection before it got to Marshall.
33rd minute, 2-1 Cardiff City: Cala goes into the referee’s book.
The Spanish defender kicked the ball away in disgust after Theophile-Catherine was whistled for a foul.
25th minute, 2-1 Cardiff City: Campbell puts Cardiff City back the lead.
Mutch played a pass over the top, and Campbell lost Flanagan as he ran onto it. The Cardiff City striker then cut inside from the right, dribbled across the face of goal and hit a left-footed shot past Mignolet.
24th minute, 1-1: The lively Campbell nearly scores Cardiff City’s second goal, but he headed Bellamy’s cross over the bar.
16th minute, 1-1: And Liverpool responds with the tying goal.
Henderson played Johnson into the area with a well-weighted pass. The marauding fullback slid a first-time cross to Suarez, who tapped it home.
The goal was just rewards for Liverpool’s patient and deliberate approach after conceding that early goal.
Ninth minute, 1-0 Cardiff City: Mutch gives the hosts an early lead.
Allen lost the ball to Campbell on the left side of the area. He played it to Mutch, who dribbled into the area before driving a left-footed shot past Mignolet from 16 yards out. Gerrard nearly blocked the shot, but he arrived a half-second too late.
Sixth minute, 0-0: Surprisingly, Cardiff City has shown more attacking impetus early on.
Liverpool has been one of the Premier League’s fastest starters lately, but the Bluebirds have the visitors on the back foot.
Second minute, 0-0: Gerrard is cautioned for bringing down Campbell.
Campbell was charging forward on a one-man counter-attack. As he was dribbling past Gerrard, and the LFC captain tripped him around 25 yards away from the Reds’ goal.
Pregame: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers made just one change to the team that beat Manchester United last week.
Coutinho starts in place of Sterling. The Brazilian is expected to boost Liverpool’s attack from either an advanced midfield or wide position.
Cardiff City is set up to pack the central channel with players, making it difficult for Liverpool to control the game from the middle. The Bluebirds will rely on wingbacks Fabio and John to provide width in the attack without sacrificing their defensive responsibilities.
10:45 a.m.: Here are the lineups:
David Marshall (1), goalkeeper
Declan John (42), left back
Cala (27), center back
Kevin Theophile-Catherine (28), center back
Steven Caulker (4), center back
Fabio da Silva (35), right back
Gary Medel (8), midfielder
Bo-Kyung Kim (13), midfielder
Jordon Mutch (18), midfielder
Craig Bellamy (39), forward
Frazier Campbell (10), striker
Joe Lewis (32), goalkeeper
Ben Turner (6), defender
Peter Whittingham (7), midfielder
Mats Moller Daehli (29), midfielder
Aron Gunnarsson (17), midfielder
Wilfried Zaha (36), midfielder
Kenwyne Jones (9), striker
Simon Mignolet (15), goalkeeper
Jon Flanagan (38), left back
Daniel Agger (5), center back
Martin Skrtel (37), center back
Glen Johnson (2), right back
Steven Gerrard (8), midfielder
Joe Allen (24), midfielder
Jordan Henderson (14), midfielder
Philippe Coutinho (10), forward
Daniel Sturridge (15), forward
Luis Suarez (7), forward
Brad Jones (1), goalkeeper
Mamadou Sakho (17), defender
Aly Cissokho (20), defender
Lucas Leiva (21), midfielder
Raheem Sterling (31), forward
Victor Moses (12), forward
Iago Aspas (9), striker
9:30 a.m. ET: Liverpool visits Cardiff City on Saturday looking to further its title ambitions.
Three-straight wins have taken the Reds up to second place in the Premier League, and confidence is high in their camp. Taking three from Saturday’s game will help the Reds keep pace with fellow title challengers Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City.
Cardiff City has struggled for much the season, and relegation fears are growing with each passing week. The Bluebirds occupy 19th place, and they hope to climb out of the relegation zone by halting Liverpool’s recent charge.
When these teams last met on Dec. 22 at Anfied, Luis Suarez scored two goals to help Liverpool to a 3-1 victory. Cardiff City Stadium is the venue for Saturday’s game, and the Uruguayan will look to lead Liverpool into the record books.
The Reds have scored 76 league goals this season. They will match their best-ever goal tally in the Premier League era — set in the 2008-09 — with their next strike. Scoring twice will see them set a new standard for goal-scoring excellence.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 11 a.m. ET. Stay right here, as we’ll bring you all the action from Cardiff City Stadium.
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