Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Liverpool maintained their title push and broke new goalscoring ground by beating struggling Cardiff City 6-3.
Having taken apart Manchester United last weekend, Brendan Rodgers' side were required to show a different side to their game as they found themselves behind twice in south Wales. With Chelsea hammering Arsenal 6-0 in the day's early match, Liverpool fought back to stay four points behind the leaders at the top with a match in hand and in the process set a new club record for goals scored in a Barclays Premier League season.
Eager to build on the momentum of their victory at Old Trafford, Rodgers' side made a far from ideal start, going a goal down after nine minutes. Jordon Mutch was the man on target, registering his fifth league goal of the season, before Suarez hauled Liverpool level soon afterwards, applying a calm finish to a slick team move.
Liverpool's frustrations continued though, and 25 minutes in Fraizer Campbell profited from some open defending from the visitors to restore Cardiff’s lead. However, Martin Skrtel ensured that the sides went in level at the break when he got a toe on the end of Philippe Coutinho's whipped delivery to score Liverpool's record 78th league goal of the campaign before adding his second after the interval.
Suarez scored twice either side of Daniel Sturridge's strike to take the game away from Cardiff, with the only glimmer of positivity for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being the performance of Mutch, who got his second late on, and the defeats suffered by relegation rivals Sunderland, Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace.
Cardiff began the game on the front foot and were rewarded when Mutch fired home the opener. After Campbell's neat lay-off, the midfielder drove at goal and finished past Simon Mignolet with his left foot. The lead lasted just seven minutes as Suarez restored parity following a well-worked move. Jordan Henderson played Glen Johnson in behind the hosts' defence, with the full-back crossing for Suarez to find the net for a third Liverpool match running.
The Uruguayan, who scored twice against Cardiff in this season's reverse fixture back in December, went close to netting a second shortly afterwards, almost getting on the end of Sturridge's cross, but it was former Manchester United forward Campbell who was next on the scoresheet after 25 minutes. Having got on the end of a lofted ball forward, he cut inside Daniel Agger and placed an effort into Mignolet's far corner.
Liverpool showed glimpses of their attacking qualities but for long spells they lacked the cutting edge on show in recent months. That changed towards the break, and it was defender Skrtel who proved to be their unlikely hero. The Slovak drew Liverpool level for a second time with a prodded finish from close range just before the interval and after the break, Skrtel and Coutinho combined again, with the defender directing a header into the far corner of David Marshall's net.
Liverpool were in the ascendancy, and after Suarez had added his second with a clever finish from Sturridge's backheeled assist there was no way back for the hosts. Sturridge added the fifth, before Mutch became the third player of the match to score a brace when he headed home Kenwyne Jones' knockdown.
Suarez completed the scoring and his hat-trick late on, keeping his composure when through on goal to slot past Marshall as Rodgers' men made it six league wins in a row.
Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer: "We're disappointed we didn't get anything. Our first-half performance was fantastic. The performance once again was good. Now we turn to a big game with West Bromwich Albion next weekend. Teams around us lost today as well. We'll keep fighting."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "We showed great resilience today, mentally, and again showed our offensive power. We all stayed very focused and composed.
"It was an outstanding result for us. Some elements of our game were very good today, against a newly-promoted team, which are always difficult to play against.
"Look at our imagination and creativity today; you sensed the crowd felt that every time we were in their half, we could score. That's a wonderful recognition of the type of team that we are. We're certainly not a team that's not worried about defending, that's not the case at all."
|29 Mar 2014||v West Brom (A)|
|05 Apr 2014||v Crystal Palace (H)|
|12 Apr 2014||v Southampton (A)|
|19 Apr 2014||v Stoke (H)|
|27 Apr 2014||v Sunderland (A)|
|03 May 2014||v Newcastle (A)|