Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp described the Cardiff City Stadium playing surface as “dangerous” after his team reclaimed top spot in the Premier League.
A rare Georginio Wijnaldum strike in the 57th minute eased Liverpool nerves before substitute James Milner slotted home a penalty nine minutes from time as Klopp’s men defeated relegation-threatened Cardiff 2-0.
The victory means they have a two-point advantage over title rivals Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
The Reds have also set a new club-record points tally in the Premier League, reaching 88 and passing the total of 86 set in 2009.
Klopp, whilst delighted with the victory, was unhappy with the dry playing surface on a warm day in south Wales.
“The ball didn’t roll like normal. Everybody saw it,” he said. “It doesn’t make football easy when the pitch is dry. It makes it dangerous as well because of injuries.
“Dry pitches are dangerous for players injury-wise. I don’t know exactly why the pitch was dry – the ball doesn’t roll that quickly.
8⃣8⃣ points, so far. 💪
— Liverpool FC (@LFC)April 21, 2019
“It’s difficult for the fluency of the game. If you ask footballers what they want, they would say a wet pitch, let’s go, let’s pass, let’s play football.
“You can slide better, everything is better. But we were prepared. I am happy with the outcome.”
Reflecting on a ninth successive win in all competitions, Klopp added: “It’s really massive. It was not a game for a little bit playing around.
“It was a game for a 100 per cent fight, a battle of will, who wants it more, and difficult circumstances – circumstances that were all a bit in favour for the team who doesn’t have the ball that often.
“In the end, we will see how many points we have and then we get what we get.
“We will see what comes out of that game on Wednesday (between Manchester United and Manchester City), but we still have games after that. If United get a point and we go to Newcastle next weekend thinking we have it, then we could get knocked there.
“We just have to stay focused on our things. That is what has worked so well so far, and there is no reason we should change that.”
On Liverpool’s opening goal, he said: “We used a set-piece in a fantastic way. They (players) were so smart, they used the experience from the first half from a corner for a corner in the second half.
P A S S I O N 👊pic.twitter.com/5vZkolcSkr
— Liverpool FC (@LFC)April 21, 2019
“It’s not from the training ground; it’s from the dressing room at half-time, when the boys decided to do that. I love that.”
Cardiff’s defeat leaves them three points from safety, but rivals Brighton’s daunting run-in includes fixtures against Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City.
Asked about Klopp’s assertion that the pitch was dangerous, Cardiff manager Neil Warnock said: “No it wasn’t. It was watered before the game.
“I see where he (Klopp) is coming from. As far as I’m aware, he (groundsman) watered the pitch before the kick-off.
“They are just a good side, aren’t they? There is not a weakness in their team or the bench. It’s a fabulous Premier League title race this year because both sides are unbelievable.”
On the penalty, which was awarded following Sean Morrison’s challenge on Mohamed Salah, Warnock added: “I thought it was a soft one. He’s got his arms around him and everything.
“I think the end of it was a 9.9 Tom Daley job. I don’t think he could have got much higher off the diving board at the end of it. I am sure you will be saying Warnock’s a moaning so-and-so again.
“We are still fighting. The players really gave their best. When you are coming up against such quality like that it’s great to give them a game and give the fans one or two exciting moments.”