Reds have substance to go with style
Liverpool far from their best but comeback win will surely please Klopp
(Leroy Fer 8)
(Roberto Firmino 54, James Milner 84-pen)
At the Liberty Stadium yesterday, Liverpool were getting beaten at their own game.
The effectiveness of Swansea's high-pressing looked like the ultimate insult to a team who live and breathe those tactics.
The hosts took a deserved early lead through Leroy Fer, leaving the Reds to chase shadows in the drizzle.
But, in a show of tenacity and intent, Liverpool mounted a superb comeback after the break.
A headed goal by Roberto Firmino and a successful spot-kick by James Milner completed the turnaround, and reinforced a belief that the team are going places.
With the 2-1 victory, the Reds moved up to second in the Premier League before tonight's matches and proved that they have the fortitude to supplement their finesse.
Liverpool never looked at their fluid best against the struggling Swans.
Yet, manager Juergen Klopp must surely be pleased to see his players grind out a precious result through their resolve.
The joy in the Reds' dugout at the final whistle contrasted starkly with the sombre atmosphere at the break.
Swansea had outfought and outwitted them in the first 45 minutes, and it had a familiar ring to it. It appeared like Turf Moor all over again.
That shock 2-0 loss to Burnley on that bleak August afternoon still sticks out like a sore thumb in Liverpool's otherwise impressive start to the Premier League campaign.
And the Swans were threatening to add to that blotch.
Burnley took just two minutes to break Liverpool's resistance two months ago.
Swansea didn't take long, either.
Fer's simple tap-in following a corner kick in the eighth minute exposed the visitors' chaotic first-half defending.
Klopp suffered another blow in the 20th minute when in-form midfielder Adam Lallana walked off the pitch injured.
Had either Borja Baston or Jack Cork taken their chances in front of goal, Liverpool would have been staring at more than a one-goal deficit at half-time.
That Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski entered the dressing room without having to make a save summed up Liverpool's abject performance.
Whatever Klopp told them at half-time, it worked wonders.
The Reds returned from the break with their fangs baring and, after sustained pressure, they finally broke down the Swans' resistance in the 54th minute.
After Philippe Coutinho's free-kick came back off the wall, Henderson picked up the loose ball and sent in a cross.
Swansea's backline attempted to play their opponents offside but were a split-second too late, as an unmarked Firmino scored with an excellent header.
The goal roused the Reds but, despite having plenty of possession in the final third, the crucial knock-out blow was missing.
Coutinho went close from long range, so did the outstanding Sadio Mane from inside the box.
Swansea, meanwhile, steadied themselves and looked threatening on the break.
But, just as the hosts seemed to have done enough to earn a draw, they self-destructed at the back.
An awful clearance in their own penalty area gifted possession to Firmino, who weaved into the box before he was shoved to the ground by Angel Rangel.
Milner calmly sent the resulting spot-kick down the middle for his fourth goal of the season.
There was still time for the home team to snatch a dramatic equaliser but, when presented with an easy chance three minutes into injury-time, defender Mike van der Hoorn screwed his shot horribly wide.
The sombre expression on the face of his manager Francesco Guidolin said it all. The loss left Swansea with only four points from seven matches and the clock is ticking for the Italian, who turns 61 tomorrow.
Klopp, on the other hand, will be heartened by his team's sheer grit.
Liverpool's frustrating tendency to raise their game against the big teams but surrender meekly to the smaller sides has been a recurring theme over the years.
Yesterday, they showed that they have the substance to complement the style.
BY THE NUMBERS
4 James Milner has scored four penalties in this season's English Premier League, more than any team have managed.