Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff: Salah acts as conductor as Reds go top

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A supposedly ‘out of sorts’ Mohamed Salah acted as conductor as Liverpool primed themselves at the top of the Premier League table with a routine 4-1 win against Cardiff.

Fresh of the back of a Champions League rout on Wednesday night, the Egyptian scored one and assisted two, taking his tally to seven for the season with four of those coming in the last eight days.

A sweeping finish and a celebration to boot, Salah excelled through the middle, orchestrating attacking moves and showing fluency with Mane and Firmino that’s rarely been witnessed this season. That definitely appears to have changed in the last two games, with intricate moves and perfect weighting of the pass coinciding with a telepathy of movement that’s kicked Liverpool’s front three into gear ahead of a crunch tie with Arsenal next week.

It should’ve been a far more dominant half-time scoreline with Lallana having a headed effort cleared out of danger after Virgil van Dijk saw his own header come off the post. Yet, Mane’s second-half double and a first competitive goal for the club from Xherdan Shaqiri eventually put the gloss on the performance.

Netting his 50th Premier League goal, Mane’s first goal came out of nowhere after he appeared to be struggling to control the ball inside the box. What originally looked like a clumsy patch of play, the Senegalese international somehow wriggled room for himself before firing a fearsome shot into the far corner to extend the lead.

A fortuitous goal for Cardiff marked the first league strike Liverpool have conceded at home since February, ending a run that stretched back to 918 minutes. Albeit containing a strong element of luck with the ball taking a deflection to fall into the path of Paterson at the near post, Moreno’s gung-ho defending left much to be desired. Upon return to the starting lineup, the Spaniard was caught trying to press the ball, running out of position to enable Cardiff supply a ball down their right-hand side.

Fortunately enough, the goal acted as a wakeup call for Liverpool, who snapped back into action with two sumptuous goals. Xherdan Shaqiri’s introduction helped restore the pattern of the game with a fine individual goal that earned him the acclaim of the Kop. Tacking Salah’s pass into his path with a perfect first touch, the Swiss international wriggled his way around the defender before coolly slotting the ball home to restore the two-goal advantage.

The fourth goal was equally as brilliant; a perfect move from start to finish. Beginning with Fabinho, who was impressive once again alongside Wijnaldum in midfield. Placing firm pressure on the midfield to enable the Reds to regain possession, Salah’s perfectly weighted ball carved open the Bluebird defence from which Mane’s brilliant chipped finish ensured the contest was over.

Regaining their attacking fluency, Liverpool look to have taken it up a notch in the last two games, building up ahead of steam for next weekend’s clash with Arsenal. Perched at the top of the Premier League table with Mohamed Salah purring, there can be few complaints about another good day’s work.

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