Check back at the end of the match for full Liverpool vs Cardiff player ratings.
Every game for Liverpool is a “must win” to close out the season if they want to capture their first Premier League title and English championship in 29 years. Manchester City kept the pressure on with a 1-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday.
Having overcome one of their two remaining real challenges, City’s win moved betting markets, as FanDuel Sportsbook NJ priced them at -190 (from -145 a week ago) and dropped Liverpool from -115 to +140.
With their place in the 2019 UEFA Champions League semifinals secured, Liverpool used the game to rotate players again though not as much as some expected. Joe Gomez is back but on the bench. Fabinho got rested. Naby Keita was back in. The long-awaited return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would have to wait some more as he wasn’t part of the squad.
Cardiff is still fighting for their relegation lives and brought their best game early despite loud Liverpool “allez allez allez’s” drowning out the home crowd. Liverpool dominated the first half, out-possessing 79-21% and out-shooting them 7 (3 on target) to 3 (1 on target). Still, at the half the score was level 0-0.
In the second half, Liverpool remained the better team, finally going up in the 57th on a stunner Gini Wijnaldum strike. Sub James Milner converted a Time 100 Most Influential People in the World Mo Salah-earned penalty to ice the game 2-0 in the 81st. Liverpool dominated this one by any and all measures.
Jurgen Klopp (7) – Didn’t rotate the line-up as much as expected, but for good reason. Cardiff was, if nothing else, going to play a spirited match. In a recurring theme, got his team stronger after half-time to lead them back atop the table.
Alisson (7) – Had nothing to do until the final minutes of the first half, coming up with a crucial stop. Wasn’t challenged much but showed up when he was.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (7) – Beautiful service with his left foot to Firmino in the 3rd minute could’ve led to a scoring opportunity if not for Bobby’s off-sides. Got beat (and slipped) on a thrilling run by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing in the 25th minute. Attacking though he’s such a threat. Found Mane with a brilliant cross in the 31st.
In the second half continued getting up the field. Missed on a wild but strong strike in the 55th minute. Then just two minutes later his corner delivery to Gini put Liverpool up 1-0. It was their league-leading 13th corner goal of the season.
Regardless, as strong as he was offensively, he struggled with Mendez-Laing all match. Ticks his score down a notch.
Virgil van Dijk (7) – Continues being a monster on aerials. Looked stronger and more in form than most of the previous few outings. Made a STRONG run with ball up the pitch at the end of the second half–would like to see him do more of that. Needs to carry this level of play over in 10 days against Barcelona.
Joel Matip (7) – Deservedly kept his starting spot despite a healthy Joe Gomez. Got beat on a throw in that could’ve been dangerous against better attacking talent. Got up the field more to draw and extra Cardiff man with him and does well in a more attacking role. Overall strong performance and showing good flexibility in playing different styles of center-back for Klopp. Today he was practically a midfielder.
Andy Robertson (6) – Another quiet game with mediocre service.
Naby Keita (6) – Strong on challenges and occasionally driving the ball up the field but mostly anonymous. Subbed for Fabinho in the 71st.
Jordan Henderson (8) – Playing with so much confidence.
Hendo has continued playing higher up pitch. Made great run in the 5th minute and attempted some creative link up. Stifled a counter in the 18th with a great tackle. Fed Salah an absurd long ball in the 36th that almost led to a breakaway shot on goal.
A wild missed strike in the second half but was a solid contributor all game.
Georginio Wijnaldum (7) – Was quiet all game then BAM. His strike of TAA’s corner delivery was technically perfect and gave Liverpool the lead.
Roberto Firmino (7) – Back in the starting line-up after only playing a half at Porto. Missed a golden 1vs1 opportunity in the 23rd minute that he should’ve converted. Still, strong on ball, in challenges, and link up.
Sadio Mane (8) – Perfect through-ball to Bobby in the 23rd minute should’ve put Liverpool up. Quick reaction to a TAA pass almost found the net in the 31st. In the opening minutes of the second half, executed a wonderful strike that just missed the net.
Didn’t get on the score sheet but played well enough to do so.
Mohamed Salah (8) – His work rate in 2019 has really been superb. BRILLIANT spin and shot execution in the 34th almost put Liverpool on top.
Stayed STRONG on ball in the penalty box in the 80th, was dragged down, and earned Liverpool the penalty that Milner buried. Almost converted again at the end off a wonderful run and toe poke. Did enough to earn a goal.
Fabinho (NR) – Came on and quickly went off with a potential head injury. No word yet if it was precautionary or if he’s in concussion protocol.
James Milner (7) – Came on for Fabinho. Utterly buried the Salah earned penalty and did an absolutely awesome old-man-with-a-can goal celebration.
Joe Gomez (NR) – Came on late as he’s being eased back in.
MAN OF THE MATCH: This one is hard as many Reds had strong games but no one clearly separated themselves. Would go with Salah but he’s gotten the last two. So it goes to Gini–solid season, incredible strike to put Liverpool ahead.