Swansea City’s Spanish striker Fernando Llorente (3L) wheels away to celebrate scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Swansea City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 21, 2017. PHOTO: Anthony DEVLIN / AFP
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s decisive goal boosted Swansea’s hopes of Premier League survival as they inflicted Liverpool’s first home defeat for almost a year with a 3-2 triumph at Anfield on Saturday.
Iceland international Sigurdsson, who has repeatedly been linked with a move away from the Welsh club, struck with 16 minutes left after Paul Clement’s side had let a two-goal lead slip against title-chasing Liverpool.
Fernando Llorente had scored twice in the first seven minutes of the second half for Swansea, but Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino responded with a double of his own.
Swansea showed great spirit to come back and earn both the Welsh club’s first-ever league win at Anfield and their first under Premier League victory under new manager Clement.
In doing so, they lifted themselves off the foot of the Premier League table and out of the bottom three, at least for a few hours.
Liverpool, playing their eighth match in 25 days, paid for sloppy defending, and missed the chance to put pressure on leaders Chelsea, losing at home for the first time since Stoke won the second leg of a League Cup semi-final at Anfield on January 26 last year.
Philippe Coutinho, now fully recovered from injury, made his first league start since November after playing for 65 minutes in Wednesday’s FA Cup win at Plymouth, but showed only occasional sparks of creativity during a tepid first half.
It was Swansea, for all the pressure they had to absorb, who came closest to scoring before the interval. Midfielder Tom Carroll, signed from Tottenham during the week, ran in from the left on to Sigurdsson’s pass infield and struck the outside of the near post from a tight angle, via a deflection off Dejan Lovren.
Both Carroll and fellow debutant Martin Olsson, brought in from Norwich, performed solidly, with the Swedish full-back making one positive attacking run that ended when he was bodychecked by Ragnar Klavan.
One excellent turn from Coutinho just after the half-hour mark allowed him to create a chance for Firmino, who would have scored but for Alfie Mawson’s block.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s frustration grew as Swansea went ahead with little more than two minutes of the second half played.
– Llorente at the double –
Not for the first time this season, Liverpool conceded from a set-piece; Sigurdsson’s corner was headed down by Federico Fernandez, Wayne Routledge blocked off the defender and the ball bounced loose for Llorente to prod in from eight yards.
Astonishingly, Llorente scored again from Swansea’s next attack, barely four minutes later.
Olsson and Carroll combined down the left, and the former Tottenham man crossed for the Spain striker to climb between Lovren and Klavan, planting a downward header past Simon Mignolet.
Liverpool, however, pulled a goal back within three minutes.
James Milner crossed from the left, the ball drifted over Olsson, and Firmino guided a header into the bottom corner of the net.
Swansea continued to threaten but Klopp’s side equalised with little more than 20 minutes to go courtesy of a superbly constructed goal.
Georginio Wijnaldum controlled a pass down the left touchline, and looped in a cross that Firmino gathered on the chest under pressure from two Swansea defenders, before hooking a first-time shot past Lukasz Fabianski.
Yet having worked their way back into the match, Liverpool fell behind again amid chaotic defending.
Carroll charged into the penalty area after taking on Llorente’s pass and, as Klavan slid in to challenge, the ball ran loose for Sigurdsson to steer beyond the exposed Mignolet.
Swansea had more nervous moments to come, with Fabianski blocking substitute Divock Origi’s shot on the turn following a Milner corner, and then watching helplessly as Adam Lallana looped a header against the bar.
But the visitors, denied victory by an Everton stoppage-time equaliser on their last visit to Merseyside in November, hung on to all three points.