A late penalty by James Milner secured Liverpool a fourth consecutive Premier League victory to send Jurgen Klopp’s team to second place in the table just two points behind Manchester City.
Milner’s fourth successful spot-kick this season enabled Liverpool to complete an impressive comeback because Klopp’s side had been given the run-around by Swansea in the first-half before a dramatic change of fortunes.
Leroy Fer had put the Welsh side ahead in the eighth minute as a fee-good factor returned to the Liberty Stadium and eased the pressure on Francesco Guidolin but things turned sour for the hosts after the break.
Roberto Firmino leveled and then won the penalty as Swansea struggled to match Liverpool in a game that was increasingly one-sided and ran out of energy as Klopp’s team pressed for a winner.
Klopp made just one change to the side that demolished Hull City 5-1 at Anfield a week ago as his team went into search of a fifth consecutive victory.
Dejan Lovren came back into the starting line-up in place of Ragnar Klavan at centre-back but the Serbian’s return to the fray did not have the desired effect.
The Liverpool defence was at sixes and sevens in the opening exchanges as Swansea took control of the contest.
Borja Baston, the only change to the Swansea 1st XI in the 3-1 home defeat by Manchester City due to Fernando Llorente’s rib injury, was handed his full league debut following his club-record £15.5-million signing from Atletico Madrid.
The 24-year-old could not have asked for a nicer welcome to the Premier League than the one given to him by Liverpool’s leaden and ponderous defence but he failed to capitalise and nodded Wayne Routledge’s inviting cross over with just Loris Karius to beat.
That was a wake-up call for Lovren and his fellow defenders but they ignored it and this time there was no let-off as Fer put the hosts ahead in the eighth minute.
Borja made up for his earlier lapse when he towered above Joel Matip at the far-post to win Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner and the ball was helped on by Mike van der Hoorn before Fer tapped over from close range.
Swansea looked anything but a side who went into the game fourth-bottom of the Premier League against opponents who struggled to get into their stride and were regularly out-manoeuvred by their hosts.
Borja should have doubled the lead when he beat Lovren to Sigurdsson’s delicious free-kick into the box but headed narrowly wide from just eight yards.
Things went from bad to worse for Klopp as it become apparent England midfielder Adam Lallana was struggling and he went midway through the first-half with a groin injury which puts in doubt his participation in the upcoming internationals against Malta and Slovenia.
Lallana was replaced by Daniel Sturridge but he found it tough going as well and was booked for diving in the Swansea penalty area by referee Michael Oliver as Liverpool resorted to desperate measures against measured opponents for whom Sigurdsson shone.
The half-time cups of tea in the Liverpool dressing room and the Klopp pep talk clearly did the trick because his team raised their game once the second half began.
There was a real feeling that the momentum had changed and that was especially the case once parity had been restored by Firmino in the 54th minute.
The Brazilian was the darling of the travelling Liverpool fans when he broke Swansea’s off-side trap to nod in Jordan Henderson’s chipped through-ball after Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick had been charged down.
It was hardly the most stylish goal Firmino will score but no one would have been complaining the Liverpool camp as it prove to be the catalyst for Klopp’s side to dominate while Swansea started looking like relegation candidates.
Milner had the last word in the 84th minute with his penalty after Swansea’s defence disintegrated and Angel Rangel carelessly fouled Firmino.
Swansea were not done, though, and Van der Hoorn could have equalised in stoppage time but he was out of luck while Guidolin could well be out of a job soon.
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