Sports - Football - Premier League - Cardiff 3:6 Liverpool
A Luis Suarez hat-trick plus Martin Skrtel double and Daniel Sturridge goal all added up to Liverpool sinking Cardiff City 3-6 in a nine-goal thriller in Wales.
The Bluebirds took the game to the Reds from kick-off and were rewarded early on, taking the lead after just nine minutes thanks to Jordon Mutch punishing former Swansea midfielder Joe Allen for his giveaway with a low, left-footed drive past Simon Mignolet.
But it didn't take long for Brendan Rodgers' men to hit back, as Glen Johnson's cross found Suarez, who made no mistake of beating David Marshall from close range to level the score 1-1 in the 16th minute.
Nine minutes later, Fraizer Campbell took advantage of a slow Red defence with loads of space from nearly the same spot as Mutch scored to make it 2-1 and turn Cardiff City on top and loud again.
However, Skrtel's clinical finish off Philippe Coutinho's cross put the scores level at 2-2 and Liverpool back in the game just before the break.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men were left stunned eight minutes into the second half, seeing Coutinho's cross off a corner headed in by Skrtel to make it 2-3, whilst the homeside were down to nine men, with Kevin Theophile-Catherine and Mutch receiving treatment on the side-line.
Poor marking from the visitors left City sub Kenwyne Jones free to head one in to make it 3-5 and give the home side some faint, if-not-false hope,
But after sub Wilfried Zaha's hesitant giveaway, Suarez selfishly ran on and clear, with all the time and space to tease keeper Marshall before beating him to make it goal number six for LFC and hat-trick number six for himself.
Thereby the Urugayan equalled Robbie Fowler's 28-goal club-record for a Premier League season, six away from Andrew Cole's and Alan Shearer's joint Premier League record of most goals in a season.
The win keeps Liverpool in second, four points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand and two points ahead of Manchester City, who have an extra game in hand.
And with the Reds still to play both blue sides at Anfield, the title race is wide open and will be a nail-biter-and-a-half that could grind down to the final seconds of the season!
Cardiff City 3-6 Liverpool
Cardiff City Goals: 1.: 8:28min Jorden Mutch (18), 2.: 24:52min Fraizer Campbell (10), 3.: 87:15min Jorden Mutch.
Liverpool Goals: 1.: 15:47min Luis Suarez (7), 2.&3.: 40.11 & 53:04min Martin Skrtel (37), 4.: 58:44 min Luis Suarez (7), 5.: 74:25min Daniel Sturridge (15), 6.: 95:27min Luis Suarez (7).
Cardiff City Team: 1 Marshall; 42 John (29 Daehli- 65th min), 28 Theophile-Catherine, 27 Cala (booked- 33rd min), 4 Caulker, 35 Fabio (booked- 50th min); 13 Kim (36 Zaha- 65th min), 8 Medel, 18 Mutch; 39 Bellamy (9 Jones- 70th min), 10 Campbell. 5-3-2
Subs not used: 6 Turner, 7 Whittingham, 17 Gunnarsson, 32 Lewis.
Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet; 38 Flanagan (20 Cissokho- 73rd min), 5 Agger, 37 Skrtel (booked- 92nd min), 2Johnson; 8 Gerrard (booked- 2nd min); 24 Allen (booked- 94th min), 14 Henderson; 10 Coutinho (31 Sterling- 68th min); 7 Suarez, 15 Sturridge (17 Sakho- 92nd min). 4-1-2-1-2
Subs not used: 1 Jones, 9 Aspas, 12 Moses, 21 Lucas.
Opta Match Stats: Cardiff City-Liverpool
On target: 3-9
From outside the box: 2-6
From inside the box: 7-13
Shot accuracy: 42.9%-60%
Duels won: 47.1%-52.9%
Aerials won: 37.9%-62.1%
Total Passes: 301-650
Long Passes: 15%-8.8%
Passing Accuracy: 77.1%-87.1%
Pass. Acc. Opp. Half: 66.4%-80.1%
Total Passes: 25-15
(Defence & Discipline)
Tackles Won: 71.4%-81.8%
Fouls Conceded: 14-11
Yellow Cards: 2-3
Red Cards: 0-0
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Man of the match: Luis Suarez