Cardiff - Liverpool continue to put the pressure on Manchester City as a
hard-fought 2-0 win at relegation threatened Cardiff moved them back top
of the Premier League on Sunday.
Georginio Wijnaldum's opener just before the hour and James Milner's
penalty secured a ninth consecutive win in all competitions for Jurgen
Klopp's side and moved them two points ahead of City, who have a game in
hand, at the top of the table.
City travel to Manchester United on Wednesday in what appears the
toughest hurdle left for the English champions to clear and deny
Liverpool a first Premier League title in 29 years.
The Reds remain poised to pounce if Pep Guardiola's side fail to pick up maximum points in their remaining four games.
While Liverpool were cruising into a second successive Champions
League semi-final in midweek, Cardiff gave their chances of survival a
huge boost with a 2-0 win at Brighton to close within three points of
If Neil Warnock's men are to defy the odds to stay up, it is upcoming
games against already relegated Fulham and Crystal Palace they will
need to win, but they did not make life easy for Liverpool.
The visitors should have taken the lead midway through the first-half
when their front three clicked together for the first time when Mohamed
Salah fed Sadio Mane and the Senegalese's pass put Roberto Firmino
clean through on goal. However, the Brazilian blazed over with just Neil
Etheridge to beat.
Salah has found his form in front of goal at the right time for
Liverpool's bid for a Premier League and Champions League double.
However, after scoring in three of his past four games, Salah could
not keep that streak going as he fired too close to Etheridge when
played in by Jordan Henderson.
Cardiff's massed ranks of defence allowed Liverpool to enjoy nearly
75 percent possession, but the home team did not pose a threat of their
own until they nearly took a shock lead just before the break.
Victor Camarasa's mishit shot fell kindly for Oumar Niasse and the on
loan Everton striker nearly brought even more a smile to fans of his
parent club on a day they beat Manchester United 4-0, but his shot was
turned over by Alisson Becker.
There was little reason for Liverpool to panic at half-time as their
previous four Premier League games had also been won with second-half
goals and so it proved once more.
Trent Alexander-Arnold bagged his 10th assist of the season as the
England international's corner was pulled back for Wijnaldum to lash
into the net first time.
Liverpool's midfield has begun to chip in with crucial goals at the
right time of the season and Henderson should have provided another
moments later when he fired wastefully over with the goal at his mercy.
Klopp vented his frustration at Henderson's miss and it was nearly
costly when Cardiff captain Sean Morrison had a glorious chance to level
26 minutes from time.
Morrison seemed to have the simple task of heading into an empty net
as Alisson got caught underneath a corner, but he mistimed his header
and the ball instead bounced to safety off his back.
And Morrison was the Cardiff villain at the other end when he was
adjudged to have brought down Salah inside the area 10 minutes from time
and substitute Milner confidently dispatched the spot-kick.