PLAYER RATINGS: Cardiff 0-2 Liverpool – Liverpool ramp up the heat on Manchester City with vital win

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By Lewis Rooke – @LV_Rooke

Liverpool beat a resolute Cardiff City side 2-0 courtesy of goals from Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner to keep up the pressure on Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

The Reds now rely on arch rivals Manchester United to do them a favour in the week, who are reeling after being thrashed 4-0 by Everton.

Here’s how the players rated…

Starting XI

Alisson: 7.5 – Had one or two important saves to make, but the Brazilian kept yet another vital clean sheet.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6.5 – Had a tough time against Nathaniel Mendez-Laing at the start of the game. Made up for that with the corner that set up Gini Wijnaldum to break the deadlock. It’s still easy to forget how young he is given how far he has come already.

Joel Matip: 8.5 – One minute he’s at the back, the next he’s 50 yards up the pitch in the opposition area still carrying the ball. Brilliant at the back as well.

Virgil van Dijk: 8 – On course for the PFA Player of the year and deservedly so. Never looks flustered, rarely looks threatened. Strikers hate him and another clean sheet for the immaculate Dutchman.

Andy Robertson: 7.5 – Had a few forays down the left hand side but was squeezed of any space by a Cardiff defence reluctant to move anywhere away from their own box. Defensively sound too.

Gini Wijnaldum: 7.5 – Scored a superbly controlled shot that broke Cardiff’s stiff resolve from a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner, drilling in from the penalty spot in emphatic style. Found it difficult to pick holes though, but I don’t blame him given how deep the Welsh side were.

Jordan Henderson: 7 – Like Roberto Firmino, missed an absolute sitter after being squared up on the penalty spot. Didn’t have his usual impact of late in the final third for the same reason as Wijnaldum though.

Naby Keita: 7.5 – Had quite a few positive runs and his confidence has definitely perked up given his recent upturn in form. A vital basis to build upon.

Sadio Mané: 8 – Looked the most threatening of the front three for me, defenders hate seeing him run menacingly towards them and sheepishly back off for fear of diving in and looking stupid. Deserving of his player of the year nomination.

Roberto Firmino: 7.5 – The Brazilian missed an absolute sitter after being played through by Sadio Mané. Extremely industrious as ever though, and was unlucky not to find himself on the scoresheet.

Mohamed Salah: 7.5 – Didn’t find much joy against a defence intent on not leaving their 18-yard line, however of what joy he found he won a penalty after being thoroughly fondled by Sean Morrison in the box. Gary Neville was waiting eagerly to brand the Egyptian with the ‘diver’ tag after calling the penalty decision controversial – however Morrison couldn’t have made it more blatant if he tried.

Substitutions

Fabinho: N/A – Straight on, straight off. Hope he’s alright.

James Milner: 8 – Typically ice cool from the penalty spot after coming on for the injured Fabinho. Old man with the legs of a 25-year old.

Joe Gomez – N/A

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