Second-half display sees Liverpool edge past Swansea

Date published: Saturday 1st October 2016 2:21

James Milner: Scored from the spot

James Milner: Scored from the spot

Liverpool’s dominant second-half performance was just enough as they edged out Swansea 2-1 on Saturday lunchtime.

Liverpool had to come from behind, but second-half goals from Roberto Firmino and a penalty from James  Milner sent the points back to Merseyside.

Swansea were well-worth their 1-0 half-time lead courtesy of Leroy Fer’s close-range finish after Liverpool’s vulnerability from corners was exposed once more.

Jurgen Klopp’s men were abject in the first 45 minutes and failed to have a short on target in the opening half as Fer’s seventh-minute strike separated the teams.

The Reds though looked rejuvenated after the break, after a more-than-probable half-time rollicking, and equalised through Firmino’s glancing header on 54 minutes.

From there on in it was all Liverpool and they earned a penalty when Firmino was bundled over by Angel Rangel and Milner converted from the spot to grab his fourth spot-kick goal of the season.

Roberto Firmino

Francesco Guidolin’s future as Swansea manager now looks bleak.

Guidolin admitted before the game that his job was in jeopardy if Swansea, winless since the opening day of the season and just above the relegation zone, did not beat a Liverpool side who are now second in the Premier League after a fourth straight victory.

Liverpool took time to get into their elegant stride, but they dominated the second period and another three points will ensure that the Reds mark Klopp’s first anniversary at Anfield next weekend in a strong league position.

Further doubt on Guidolin’s tenuous position appeared to be cast before kick-off when chairman Huw Jenkins failed to mention the Italian by name in his programme notes.

Swansea have been linked with Ryan Giggs and former United States manager Bob Bradley to become their next manager, but the hosts began brightly.

Record signing Borja Baston, making his first Premier League start with Fernando Llorente sidelined by a rib injury, headed over from 10 yards when left unmarked.

Swansea

Klopp had fielded questions on Liverpool’s vulnerability at set-pieces when appearing in the Sky television studio earlier in the week.

But it seemed his defenders had not been listening to him as Rangel rose unopposed at the far post to meet Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner.

The header was touched on by some combination of Mike van der Hoorn and Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren for Fer to tap home his fourth goal of the season from a yard out and ensure Liverpool’s wait for a clean sheet in the league this term continues.

Liverpool were struggling to find their usual rhythm, pressed into mistakes while playing from the back and unable to launch any attacks of substance.

Fer drove over from 25 yards as Liverpool defenders dawdled on the ball once more and the Reds’ frustration grew as Adam Lallana limped off to be replaced by Daniel Sturridge.

Sigurdson’s eye for a pass was causing Liverpool huge problems with his ball over the top of finding a stretching Jack Cork, who could not get enough power in the shot to test Loris Karius.

Borja should then have opened his Swansea account when Sigurdsson’s free-kick set him up from eight yards, but the Spaniard planted his header wide.

Mane.Firmino (1)

Liverpool finally roused themselves in the closing stages of the first half after Sturridge was booked for simulation in the penalty area.

But Sadio Mane and Firmino were foiled by brave blocks from Jordi Amat and Fer, while Karius held Sigurdsson’s free-kick at the second attempt at the other end.

Liverpool stayed on the front foot after the restart, with Firmino forcing a first save from Lukasz Fabianski and Amat clearing as Mane’s shot squirmed across an unguarded six-yard box.

Their pressure was rewarded after 54 minutes when Jordan Henderson lifted a ball into the box after Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick had been blocked and Firmino nodded home his fourth goal of the season.

Coutinho curled home as Liverpool sought to make their superiority count and Nathaniel Clyne fired straight at Fabianski.

But the telling moment came when substitute Modou Barrow skied a clearance and Rangel barged over Firmino as the ball dropped, allowing Milner to dispatch his third penalty in two games.
Van der Hoorn’s late miss meant there was no way back for Swansea.

STATS

Liverpool have scored more away Premier League goals than any other side in 2016 (28, two more than Spurs).

Swansea have shipped 2+ goals in four consecutive Premier League home games for only the second time, following a four-game run in September 2013.

Swansea lead in this game (46 mins) for longer than in their six previous top-flight games this season combined (27 mins).

Leroy Fer has scored four goals in his seven Premier League appearances this season, as many as he scored in his previous 26 in the competition.

Against Swansea, Liverpool failed to direct a single shot on target in the first-half for the first time in the Premier League this season.

Roberto Firmino has netted more Premier League goals than any other Liverpool player since the start of last season (13).

James Milner has been involved in 21 Premier League goals since the start of last season (nine goals, 12 assists), more than any other Liverpool player.

Milner has himself netted four penalties in the Premier League this season, more than any team.

Liverpool have now gone 10 away games without a clean sheet in the Premier League, only once before have they endured a longer run without a shut-out on the road in the competition (12 games, ending in September 1998).

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