Oct 27 (Reuters) - Sadio Mane scored a brace of goals and Mohamed Salah continued his return to form as Liverpool moved to the summit of the Premier League with a comfortable 4-1 victory against lowly Cardiff City at Anfield on Saturday.
Salah ended any suggestion he had been suffering a goal drought when he converted from close range after Mane's shot was parried in the ninth minute for his fourth goal in three matches.
Liverpool enjoyed 86 percent possession and had 12 shots in a commanding first half, the only surprise being that Juergen Klopp's side did not add a second goal before the break.
That finally came in the 66th minute, when Mane wriggled through a couple of challenges before unleashing a fierce drive into the corner with his left foot.
Cardiff set up a potentially nervy finish when Callum Paterson scored in the 77th minute, but Xherdan Shaqiri and Mane put the game to bed with late efforts.
Liverpool, still unbeaten and winners of eight of their 10 matches, have 26 points -- three clear of champions Manchester City who will reclaim top spot if they beat Tottenham Hotspur on Monday evening.
"I don't think Cardiff have lost by big margins very much," Klopp told reporters. "Maybe the City game but no other. They're a very good team and will cause problems like today.
"Pretty much what we expected. I have a lot of respect for them and what they do."
Liverpool -- many people's tip to pose the strongest challenge to City this season -- are 10 points better off than they were at the same stage of last season.
However, a better measure of their improvement, during which they have matched their best start to a Premier League campaign, is likely to come in their next fixture, at in-from Arsenal -- winners of 11 straight games in all competitions.
'QUALITY THE DIFFERENCE'
Neil Warnock's Cardiff side remain 17th with just five points from their opening 10 matches.
He told reporters: "It's been hard for us against these teams. That bit of quality makes the difference.
"The rest of the season will be decided on what we do in the remaining games away from the top six."
(Reporting by Tom Hayward; editing by Martyn Herman, Neville Dalton)