Suarez bags yet another Premier League brace…
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Luis Suarez continued his incredible scoring run with two goals as Liverpool beat Cardiff City 3-1 at Anfield on Saturday to go top of the Premier League.
Against a Cardiff side dogged by speculation about the future of manager Malky Mackay, Liverpool raced into a three-goal lead by half-time.
Suarez scored twice, either side of assisting Raheem Sterling for Liverpool’s second, to take his tally to 19 league goals for the season and 21 in the league at Anfield in 2013.
Jordon Mutch pulled one back in the second half and Liverpool never matched their earlier intensity, but they still came away with a comfortable win that moves them above Arsenal, who face Chelsea on Monday.
The match was played out against the backdrop of reports suggesting Cardiff owner Vincent Tan is set to dismiss Mackay just months after the Scot guided the Welsh club to promotion.
The Cardiff fans made their displeasure clear, with banners dotted across the away end reading ‘Tan Out’ and ‘We want our club back’, and constant songs against the Malaysian businessman.
On the pitch, Liverpool quickly threatened, with Suarez thumping into the side-netting after Sterling had burst into the area.
They went close again when Jordan Henderson clipped over the top for Sterling and the winger pulled back for Suarez, whose shot was blocked, before Philippe Coutinho drove wide with a follow-up effort.
The Reds’ failure to clear convincingly gave them some anxious early moments, with Mutch dragging wide from inside the area.
Mutch then opened up the Liverpool defence with a fine ball for Craig Noone and the winger cut in on his left foot before seeing his shot pushed away from the top corner by Simon Mignolet.
From the Peter Whittingham corner that followed, Mutch won the ball unchallenged, but could not turn his header on target.
But after a lengthy spell of possession around the Cardiff area, Coutinho picked out Suarez and the Uruguayan’s shot was deflected wide off Andrew Taylor.
Liverpool had been a long way from their best, but moved ahead in the 25th minute with a goal from Suarez.
Coutinho knocked the ball to the left and Henderson clipped a cross to the edge of the area for the striker to find the bottom-left corner with a firm volley.
Coutinho also thumped against the near post after collecting a Suarez corner and skilfully beating Gary Medel.
Martin Skrtel should have doubled the advantage when he was found by Jon Flanagan’s cross, only to head over from six yards.
Flanagan had an effort blocked on the line by Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall, who then pushed away a shot from Sterling as the pressure continued.
Three minutes before the interval, Liverpool got a deserved second when Henderson sent Suarez clear and the striker squared a pass for Sterling to tap in.
Three minutes later, Suarez was found by Henderson’s backheel and bent a fine shot into the bottom-right corner from outside the box for a third.
Sterling drove wide at the near post from Coutinho’s corner before Coutinho just missed from the edge of the area after a fine run.
But Cardiff pulled one back just before the hour mark when Whittingham’s deep free-kick was headed in at the far corner by Mutch.
Mutch also headed high and wide at the far post after getting to a Whittingham corner and, from another Whittingham free-kick, Ben Turner rose above Mamadou Sakho and forced a save from Mignolet with a dipping header.
But the Reds broke out with a quarter of an hour remaining, with Sterling thwarted by Marshall and Suarez’s follow-up shot hitting the outside of the post.
Joe Allen also headed over from Sterling’s corner as the Reds tried to reassert themselves, while Suarez was again denied a hat-trick by a low save from Marshall.