at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Cardiff, United Kingdom – Brendan Rodgers admits the remarkable form of Luis Suarez has given Liverpool an opportunity to fulfil their dreams of winning the Premier League.
Rodgers' side started the season harbouring ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League via a top-four finish, but few at Anfield would have dared to consider the possibility of a challenge for the title.
Yet the irresistable form of Uruguay forward Suarez has changed all that and, with just eight matches to play, Liverpool find themselves firmly in the race for a first league championship since 1990.
Suarez was at his brilliant best again on Saturday as Liverpool swept to a 6-3 victory over Cardiff thanks to the 27-year-old's third hat-trick of the season.
He has scored 28 times in the league this term, firing second placed Liverpool to within four points of leaders Chelsea with a game in hand against struggling Sunderland on Wednesday and a home clash against Jose Mourinho's men still to come in April.
Suarez's latest heroics were impressive enough to prompt the usually cautious Rodgers to concede Liverpool's fans will be dreaming of winning the league at last.
“Luis is a remarkable player who has terrific determination, desire and will and he gets his rewards. He is world class player who is enjoying his football,” Rodgers said.
“Look at the runs he makes and the determination to get himself back into position when he doesn't get the ball.
“Daniel (Sturridge) also shows that great desire. He's strong and he worked so hard to get into the box to get on to the end of Luis' cross. The back heel for Luis' goal was outstanding too.
“Wednesday will be a great night for us. We have five games at home and three away and for us it is about the immediate future.
“The fans can believe in dreams and when you see your side score six goals, you are allowed to do that.”
Rodgers needed Suarez to be at peak form on Saturday because Liverpool endured some difficult moments at the back against one of the league's minnows.
Cardiff twice took the lead in south Wales through Jordon Mutch and Fraizer Campbell, but Suarez equalised before two goals from defender Martin Skrtel gave Liverpool a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Suarez struck again and completed his treble in stoppage-time after Sturridge was also on the scoresheet.
Mutch got one more back for second bottom Cardiff and Rodgers warned his players to cut out the sloppy defending.
“We were probably too deep in the first half and gave them too much space,” Rodgers said.
“I also thought we lost the ball too cheaply on one or two occasions. You can't afford to do that and Cardiff made us pay for it.
“Once we shortened the pitch, we showed greater resilience and in the end it was an outstanding result for us.
“Yes, we conceded poor goals, but we are on the back of two clean sheets, so it's not a case of just scoring more than the opposition.
“We take great pride in our defence and we need to keep defending well.
“The great thing is that we have the confidence to know we can get back into games. It's what we were able to do.”
Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was far from happy with Liverpool's third which Skrtel scored whilst Kevin Theophile-Catherine and Mutch were off the field following treatment.
“I'm disappointed we haven't got anything out of the game,” Solskjaer said. “I thought the first half we were exceptional and then we conceded that third goal.
“I think we need to look at the rule. How can you defend a corner kick with nine men?
“I don't want to sound like a old grumpy man, but it's unfair. I just knew they were going to score.
“Two of my biggest men were out of the corner kick. But rules are rules.” – Sapa-AFP