Liverpool overcome Cardiff to claim top spot again

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Liverpool returned to the top of the English Premier League table after beating Cardiff City 2-0 on Sunday evening at Cardiff City Stadium.

The Reds rotated three players from their victory over Porto in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, as Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita returned to the fold.

After being frustrated by the spirited Cardiff defence in the early stages, Jurgen Klopp’s charges finally had a great chance to break the deadlock in the 22nd minute after Sadio Mane released Firmino clear on goal with a delightful splitting pass but the Brazilian unfortunately guided his curling shot just over the top corner of the crossbar.

Liverpool were threatening on transitions and Mohamed Salah almost found the breakthrough in the 33rd minute after he pulled clear on the right side of the box but his low strike at the near post was crucially saved by the Bluebirds shot-stopper Neil Etheridge with his feet.

Oumar Niasse had the best chance for Neil Warnock’s men a minute before the break with an acrobatic half-volley at the near post that was brilliantly tipped over the bar by the Reds goalkeeper Alisson following a corner in the area and the first stanza ended with the sides deadlocked without goals.

The visitors were knocking on the door for the opener in the early stages of the second stanza and Georginio Wijnaldum finally broke the deadlock for Klopp’s charges three minutes before the hour-mark with a first-time right footed and powerful strike that hit the back the net following a great corner by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Sean Morrison should have levelled matters for Cardiff in the 64th minute after getting on the end of a corner at the back post unmarked but he could not connect with the flight of the ball at the last moment and missed the target at point-blank range.

Klopp made his first change with 20 minutes remaining as he brought on Fabinho in place of Keita to shore up the midfield but the Brazilian defensive midfielder had to depart five minutes after coming on as he sustained a head injury in an aerial collision with Kenneth Zohore and he was replaced by James Milner.

Miner’s first task nine minutes before time was to take a penalty after Salah was shoved down inside the box by Morrison who was clumsy with his hands wrapped around the Egyptian and the veteran English midfielder made no mistake from 12-yards sending Etheridge the wrong way to give Liverpool security.

The Reds were home and dry in the closing stages and Salah almost made it 3-0 with a close range strike in the last minute but Etheridge produced a great save as the visitors clinched a 2-0 victory that took them back to the top of the table, two points clear of second-placed Manchester City.