The Bluebirds fought valiantly, but fell to two-goals against Premier League title challengers Liverpool at CCS on Sunday, April 21st.
Neil Warnock named an unchanged starting XI, looking to continue the momentum from City’s mid-week win over Brighton & Hove Albion. Greg Cunningham and Alex Smithies came back into the matchday squad of 18, taking up spots on the subs bench.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the Bluebirds against their Premier League title challenging opponents at Cardiff City Stadium. The Reds controlled the flow of possession, looking to carve out chances at every opportunity.
The early exchanges were just pot shots with Liverpool’s first clear cut sight of goal coming after 22 minutes as Roberto Firmino curled over the crossbar one-on-one. Up to that point it was the Bluebirds who had gone closest following fine wing play involving Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Junior Hoilett. An important block by Andrew Robertson on 15 minutes stopped Hoilett's effort.
Dangerous duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané both went close in the first half, but Neil Etheridge was equal to everything thrown at him in the opening period.
The first half almost got better for Warnock’s side as Everton loanee Oumar Niasse went close just before the interval. The forward attempted an acrobatic effort, that was tipped over the crossbar by Liverpool’s Brazilian ‘keeper, Allison.
The second half continued in a similar way with the Reds dominating possession. They finally found a way through the home defence from a swift corner kick move. Trent Alexander-Arnold suffered a tough afternoon against the pace of Mendez-Laing, but he gained another assist for the campaign, crossing his set piece straight to Georginio Wijnaldum, who fired an unstoppable strike into the top corner, on 57 minutes.
City had a chance to level seven minutes later as skipper Sean Morrison met Joe Ralls’ dangerous cross. However, the captain’s diving effort saw the ball skim off his back at close range rather than his head, with the ball skipping out for a Liverpool goal kick.
The Bluebirds will have felt hard done by when the away side were rewarded a penalty on 80 minutes. Morrison and Salah went toe-to-toe in the area, with our No.4 penalised for holding the Liverpool man, after he went to ground extravagantly. The reliable James Milner stepped up from the spot, and slotted home to double their advantage.
It was Jürgen Klopp’s side who went close again late on as Etheridge performed a miraculous stop to deny Salah his 20th league goal of the campaign, tipping the ball wide of goal at close range.
Cardiff City return to Premier League action at Fulham next weekend, with three huge matches remaining in the current campaign.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 0-2 LIVERPOOL
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Morrison, Manga, Bennett, Gunnarsson, Ralls (Bacuna 78’), Camarasa, Hoilett (Murphy 83’), Mendez-Laing, Niasse (Zohore 66’). Subs Not Used: Smithies, Cunningham, Decordova-Reid, Harris.
Liverpool: Alisson, van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Keita (Fabinho 71’, injured, replaced by Milner after 75’ minutes), Firmino, Mané, Salah, Henderson, Robertson, Matip, Alexander-Arnold (Gomez 85’). Subs Not Used: Mignolet, Sturridge, Shaqiri, Origi.