Lucky break sets up Liverpool's Champions League charge
Liverpool are two points from a qualification spot as a fortunate ricochet gives them the points at Swansea
Swansea City 0 Liverpool 1. A freak goal from Jordan Henderson gave Liverpool victory over Swansea and moved the Reds to within two points of a Champions League qualification place.
Henderson got lucky on 68 minutes when he ran on to a pass from Daniel Sturridge only for Jordi Amat to slide in with a tackle. But the ball ricocheted off the Liverpool midfielder's shin and looped over the head off Lukasz Fabianski and into the Swansea net.
"It was a little bit fortunate, but you've got to be in the right positions to score," conceded Henderson, who has now got five league goals to his credit this season.
The win means Liverpool are still fifth but they are now just two points behind Manchester United who they meet at the weekend.
"We can't wait for Sunday," declared Henderson. "We're high on confidence…it will be a tough game, but we're at Anfield, and we're confident, so we hope we'll get the result we need."
Liverpool have every reason to be confident given their form in 2015. Since Christmas Brendan Rodgers side have taken 32 points from 12 league games, 10 more than Chelsea have managed in the same period. In addition they've kept clean sheets in their last six away games, an achievement that hasn't been seen on Merseyside since the days of Bill Shankly.
Rodgers was a happy man when he spoke to reporters after the game, although he admitted it had been a less-than-impressive display from his side before the break. "In the first half we were nowhere near the level we expect," he said. "We weren't pressing enough, and when we got the ball, we gave it away too cheaply. We changed the structure in the second half by going to a diamond and pushing the sides forward, and we were a lot better."
Liverpool had Simon Mignolet to thank for getting them to half-time without conceding a goal. Much maligned in the first half of the season, the Belgian gloveman had returned to form and against Swansea he denied Bafetimbi Gomis and Gylfi Sigurdsson with fine saves in the first 45 minutes.
"There's no doubt Simon Mignolet's back to his best," agreed Rodgers. "We needed him in the first half. He's been excellent. Clearly now, you see his confidence, along with the team's."
The defeat leaves Swansea in ninth, ten points behind seventh place Tottenham, and with little to play for except pride in the final two months of the season.
"The first half we dictated, should have got a goal but credit to Liverpool they came back out," said Swansea boss Garry Monk. "They weren't creating a lot of chances [and] to concede the deflected goal we did is harsh on the players."