Premier League: Luis Suarez scores twice to help Liverpool to 3-1 win over Cardiff
Luis Suarez celebrated his new contract in style as he inspired Liverpool to a 3-1 win over Cardiff City at Anfield.
Last Updated: 21/12/13 6:56pm
All the pre-match focus surrounded Malky Mackay's future at Cardiff, but all the talk after the game was on the goalscoring exploits of Suarez.
Suarez had a hand in all three goals as he scored two to take his tally to 19 goals for the season while also setting up Raheem Sterling.
Cardiff showed great character with an impressive second half performance as Jordon Mutch reduced the arrears, but Liverpool held on to take all three points and move to the top of the table for 48 hours at least.
Liverpool started brightly, but Cardiff were defending in numbers and it was the visitors who went close to opening the scoring after 14 minutes when boyhood Liverpool fan Craig Noone forced Simon Mignolet into a flying save with a shot from the edge of the box.
The home side made the breakthrough on 25 minutes with Suarez finding the net for his 18th Premier League goal of the campaign. Jordan Henderson was the creator of the goal as picked out Suarez inside the box with a chipped pass and the Uruguay striker drilled his volley expertly into the bottom corner past David Marshall.
Cardiff had claims for a penalty turned away on 29 minutes when Steven Caulker went down in the box under a challenge from Martin Skrtel.
Liverpool were inches away from adding a second goal on 33 minutes when Suarez fed Philippe Coutinho with a short corner and the Brazilian skipped past Gary Medel on the byline before firing his shot off the base of the post.
Brendan Rodgers' side continued to probe for openings and, after Skrtel headed over from Jon Flanagan's cross, Flanagan saw his effort from an acute angle clip the post before being cleared off the line by the legs of Marshall.
The impressive Sterling then saw a shot pushed away by Marshall after breaking clear on goal, before Liverpool grabbed a second goal their dominance deserved on 42 minutes when Henderson sent Suarez racing clear on goal with a superb pass and the Uruguayan unselfishly passed for Sterling to stroke the ball home from close range.
Things got even better for Liverpool on the stroke of half-time when Henderson found Suarez on the edge of the box with a clever back-heel and the in-form striker curled his shot into the far corner leaving Marshall stranded.
Liverpool picked up where they left off at the start of the second half and Sterling and Coutinho both fired in efforts from the edge of the box which flew wide of the target.
Cardiff pulled a goal back just before the hour mark when Mutch found himself unmarked from Peter Whittingham's cross to head home past Mignolet.
The goal lifted Cardiff and they looked dangerous every time they got a ball in the box from set-pieces, with Whittingham's deliveries causing all sorts of problems.
Liverpool should have added a fourth goal 15 minutes from time when Sterling broke clear on goal only to be denied by Marshall before Suarez hit the post with the follow-up effort.
Cardiff refused to give in and Caulker was unlucky not to score five minutes from time when he flicked Noone's cross wide of the far post.
Suarez was denied his hat-trick in the final minute when he latched onto Sterling's pass, but Marshall did well to keep out his left-footed effort.