Football: Reds wake up in time

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino is fouled by Swansea's Angel Rangel, resulting in a penalty which James Milner tucked away late on. The Brazilian had headed the Reds level earlier, as they recovered from a horrid first half.
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino is fouled by Swansea's Angel Rangel, resulting in a penalty which James Milner tucked away late on. The Brazilian had headed the Reds level earlier, as they recovered from a horrid first half.PHOTO: REUTERS

Firmino equalises and Milner is spot on but another loss piles pressure on Swansea boss

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Swansea City 1

Liverpool 2

LONDON • Whatever Jurgen Klopp said at half-time, it did the trick.

Liverpool, unrecognisable from the team that toiled in the opening 45 minutes, turned the English Premier League football game on its head to record a fifth successive victory at Swansea City yesterday and climb to second on the table.

James Milner's fourth penalty of the season and third in a week, after Roberto Firmino's 54th-minute header had hauled Liverpool level early in the second half, condemned the Welsh club to a 2-1 defeat that leaves Francesco Guidolin clinging to his job.

TOUGH LUCK

My team played a very good game. Liverpool is a very strong team. The draw would have been the right result.

FRANCESCO GUIDOLIN, Swansea's Italian manager, whose position is in jeopardy after five defeats in seven league games.

Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, Swansea's new American owners, had flown in to watch the match and it remains to be seen whether they are prepared to give the 60-year-old Italian more time or if this is the weekend when the guillotine falls.

Swansea supporters sang the manager's name on several occasions and, in truth, this was a spirited performance, in particular in the first half, when Borja Gonzalez should have added to Leroy Fer's opening goal in the eighth minute.

Mike van der Hoorn was also guilty of wasting a gilt-edged chance to equalise in the 93rd minute, when Angel Rangel crossed from the right and the central defender missed his kick with the goal at his mercy.

Yet, the harsh reality is that this was a fifth defeat in seven league games for Swansea and that is a statistic to worry any Premier League owner.

"My team played a very good game. Liverpool is a very strong team. The draw would have been the right result," Guidolin told Sky Sports.

"I don't know (if I might lose my job). It's not my decision. It's just for me to prepare for the game and the team. I know the situation. It's a possibility. The important thing is to prepare with patience.

"Before the game I saw the new owners just to say 'hello'. I don't know if in the next day there's a meeting."

For Liverpool, the world is a much happier place and it was a startling turnaround in the second half.

Klopp's side had started woefully and on another afternoon could have been two or three goals down at half-time.

Only Gonzalez's profligacy spared Liverpool, who endured a torrid opening 45 minutes.

As well as falling behind to Fer's goal, Liverpool lost Adam Lallana to an early groin injury and Daniel Sturridge, the man who replaced him, was booked for diving.

But nine minutes into the second half, Firmino equalised. And when Rangel, rather clumsily, bundled into the Brazilian in the area with six minutes left on the clock, Milner made no mistake from the spot and Klopp's team continued their upward momentum.

"We are really happy in this moment," the Liverpool manager told Sky Sports. "The second half is how the whole game should have been. Our body language wasn't good in the first half.

"I thought the Swansea goal was offside, but it's not important any more. You need to show every week that you ready to fight for the result. We did it in this game."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 02, 2016, with the headline 'Reds wake up in time'. Print Edition | Subscribe