Football: Liverpool boost top-four bid as Spurs falter

Liverpool's Raheem Sterling (right) challenges Swansea's Neil Taylor during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England, on Feb 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Liverpool's Raheem Sterling (right) challenges Swansea's Neil Taylor during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England, on Feb 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Liverpool strengthened their grip on fourth place in the Premier League after Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson each scored twice in a jittery 4-3 win over Swansea City on Sunday.

Swansea hit back to level from 2-0 and 3-2 down at Anfield, before Henderson finally killed off their resistance in the 74th minute to take Liverpool back to within four points of leaders Chelsea.

Victory gave Brendan Rodgers's side a potentially significant six-point lead over fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur, who subsequently lost 1-0 at Norwich City.

"The strong part of our game came through," said Rodgers.

"Our offensive game is very aggressive and we've got goals in the team, but we're disappointed with the goals we conceded.

"We're just focused on winning games and no-one's really talking about us for the title; everything's about Chelsea, (Manchester) City and Arsenal. We'll just try to continue to improve."

Liverpool needed less than three minutes to take the lead, with Sturridge collecting Raheem Sterling's pass and rounding Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm to score after Angel Rangel had lost possession in midfield.

Sturridge has now scored in eight consecutive Premier League games and he set up his side's second goal in the 20th minute with a lay-off that was curled home by Henderson.

Two goals in four minutes brought Swansea level, however, with former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey smashing a shot in off the crossbar before Wilfried Bony headed home via a deflection off Martin Skrtel.

Sturridge restored Liverpool's lead in the 36th minute, converting a cross from Luis Suarez with his head, but Bony equalised from the penalty spot early in the second half after he had been fouled by Skrtel.

It had been a ramshackle performance by Liverpool, but they finally secured victory with 16 minutes remaining when Henderson bundled the ball home after Suarez's shot was deflected into his path.

- 'Bitterly disappointed' - ===========================

Tottenham had an opportunity to trim Liverpool's advantage back to three points at Carrow Road, but it was Norwich who claimed victory thanks to a 47th-minute strike by Robert Snodgrass.

The Scotland midfielder found the bottom-left corner from Bradley Johnson's pass to haul Norwich four points clear of the relegation zone and jeopardise Spurs' bid for Champions League qualification.

Substitute Roberto Soldado spurned a good opportunity to equalise for Spurs when he blazed wide moments after coming on, while Johnson saw a late free-kick hit the crossbar and pitch on the line before bouncing out.

"I thought we were poor in the first half," Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood told Sky Sports. "We saw an improvement after half-time, but they got a goal that put the wind in their sails.

"The second half was more like what we know we can do, but we are bitterly disappointed. We have to tighten up our entire performance." Norwich manager Chris Hughton said he was "immensely proud" of his players.

"There's always a little bit of fear as we were in good form, but without getting the results we deserved," he said.

"We have a good set of lads here, and a club where we are all pulling in the right direction."

In the day's other game, Loic Remy marked his return to the Newcastle United team after suspension by claiming an injury-time winner in a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa.

The French striker collected a deflected effort from Luuk de Jong and fired home in the 92nd minute to give Newcastle a first home win in five league games after a run of four straight defeats.

Victory lifted Alan Pardew's side above Southampton and into eight place, while Villa remain 13th.

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