Swansea City vs Liverpool match report: Jordan Henderson's freak goal keeps Reds flying high for top four finish

Swansea City 0 Liverpool 1: A hungry Swansea side should have gone into the lead after creating half a dozen presentable chances before half time

If Liverpool end up playing Champions League football next season they may look upon Jordan Henderson’s fortunate winner on Monday night as the key moment in the remarkable recovery they have forged over the second half of the season.

For most of the opening hour Liverpool had been second best to a hungry Swansea side who should have held the lead after creating half a dozen presentable chances. But that profligacy in front of goal proved costly when Henderson inadvertently found the net in the 68th minute, thanks to Jordi Amat’s tackle cannoning of the Liverpool captain and past Lukasz Fabianski.

It was harsh on Swansea but Brendan Rodgers will care not a jot as his side made it 13 games unbeaten and moved within two points of fourth-placed Manchester United ahead of their key meeting with Louis van Gaal’s side at Anfield on Sunday.

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Philippe Coutinho almost gave Liverpool the lead after Raheem Sterling’s astute cutback (AFP)

Once up a time it would have been Steven Gerrard producing the key moment to get a Liverpool side out of trouble. The veteran talisman was only on the bench here, following recent injury, but he was on the field by the time Henderson struck. The former Sunderland man’s constant cajoling and motivating will not have gone unnoticed by Gerrard, who may well feel he is leaving the captaincy in good hands as he prepares to head off into his LA sunset.

Liverpool enjoyed a couple of bright early moments, and Daniel Sturridge registered the first shot on goal as Swansea riskily backed off and allowed him to fire wide of the right-hand post.

Despite those scares, Swansea looked lively in possession and soon it was the visiting defence doing all the worrying. Joe Allen, facing his former club, made a crucial tackle as Bafetimbi Gomis, selected in Garry Monk’s starting line-up just 12 days after his dramatic collapse at White Hart Lane, bore down on goal. Martin Skrtel then blocked Ki Sung-yueng’s header back across the face of goal as the pressure slowly intensified.

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Swansea's Gylfi Sigurdsson curled an effort over the bar (Getty)

Gomis thought he had found the opener when his powerful header from Wayne Routledge’s cross beat Simon Mignolet, but was headed to safety by Skrtel. The French striker was having his best game in a Swansea shirt and he worked Mignolet again as he drove on to Routledge’s delicate flick and got away a low shot.

Gylfi Sigurdsson curled an effort over the bar as Neil Taylor’s foray forward caused problems for the Liverpool back three, and the Iceland international later produced a more accurate strike that had Mignolet at full stretch.

 

Liverpool were listless, and they were almost punished from the resulting corner as Jonjo Shelvey wandered away from his marker and struck a shot that would have found the net but for Alberto Moreno’s intervention.

The visitors retreated to the sanctuary of the dressing room fortunate to still be level having produced a performance that suggested they were the side with little left to play for over the remainder of the season. Liverpool’s frustrations were perfectly summed up when Moreno picked up a booking for two petty fouls on Kyle Naughton early in the second stanza.

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Jordan Henderson scores Liverpool’s goal after Jordi Amat’s sliding tackle only pushed the ball on to the midfielder’s shin (EPA)

Yet there was finally some spark to their play with at least some suggestion of the quality that has seen them drag themselves into top-four contention. Philippe Coutinho almost gave them the lead after Raheem Sterling’s astute cutback found the forward, but it was little surprise when Rodgers summoned Gerrard from the bench.

So often during his stellar career the club stalwart has rescued them from such situations, then again there have been few times in his career when he has had to sit on the bench even upon his return from injury.

Within five minutes of his introduction Liverpool led, although it had nothing to do with him, instead it was the man who had taken the Anfield armband off him who landed the critical blow.

Sturridge’s flick put Henderson in against Amat, the Spaniard got into make the tackle but the ball struck the midfielder and flew beyond Fabianski into the net.

Adam Lallana almost extended the lead moments later, but his close-range effort was well held by Fabianski.

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