Global Sports : Liverpool Maintain Top-four Push

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Liverpool maintained their push for a top-four finish as Jordan Henderson’s fortunate second-half strike sealed a 1-0 win at Swansea.
The stand-in Liverpool skipper’s 68th-minute strike proved to be the difference as Jordi Amat’s deflected clearance struck the midfielder and looped over Łukasz Fabianksi.
During a first half dominated by the hosts in terms of clear-cut chances, Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet produced a fine display to deny a string of well-worked Swansea attempts before the interval.
Liverpool came out rejuvenated after the break and controlled large parts of the second period before deservedly taking the lead.
Steven Gerrard made his long-awaited return from a hamstring injury and marshalled midfield as Liverpool kept their opponents at bay and held out for the points with the game meandering towards its conclusion.
Brendan Rodgers brought Mamadou Sakho into his back four, but it was his captain, Henderson, who struggled to adjust to the pace of the game early on as he caught former Red Jonjo Shelvey with a high boot before seeing yellow for a foul on Neil Taylor.
Bafetimbi Gomis returned to the Swansea line-up a fortnight after his fainting incident at Tottenham, and the Frenchman led the line brilliantly as Garry Monk’s side created the first clear chances.
Having headed a Liverpool corner to safety and then beaten Emre Can, Gomis’ goal-bound run was only stopped by a strong Joe Allen tackle. Wayne Routledge’s follow-up cross then found Ki Sung-Yueng at the far post, but the South Korean couldn’t get his attempt on target.
Mignolet then took a centre stage as he denied the hosts what would have been a deserved lead with a string of quality saves before the break.
The first came on the half-hour mark when he denied Gomis’ low drive after Wayne Routledge’s neat one-two had put the striker through on goal.
Gylffi Sigurdsson should have done better to find the target after Taylor had found him inside the area, but it was Mignolet who denied him moments later as launched himself to tip the Icelandic international’s effort out for a corner.
Shelvey then came close with a well-worked set piece from a corner, but Adam Lallana’s last-ditch intervention proved vital as the Reds held on to enter the break level.
The Merseysiders took full advantage of their let-off in the first half as they dominated the second period against a tiring Swansea side.
Raheem Sterling got the better of Taylor on a number of occasions and almost turned provider as in got in behind the Swansea defence and laid the ball off to Philippe Coutinho, only for Fabianski to tip the effort onto the post.
Gerrard replaced Alberto Moreno shortly after the hour mark and Rodgers’ subsequent reshuffle to his side produced the game’s defining moment.
After receiving Martin Skrtel’s threaded pass, Sturridge’s flick into the path of Henderson ended up with Amat’s clearance cannoning off him and into the back of the net for a deserved, yet fortunate, opener.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Swansea who struggled to get back into the game as Liverpool equalled a club-record sixth consecutive away league game without conceding.
Coutinho and Sterling had late attempts miss the target as the Reds went in search of the game-clinching second. Sturridge struck the post in the dying seconds but the result was in hand buy that point.
The victory moves the Merseysiders into fifth – two points off rivals Manchester United ahead of their mouth-watering Super Sunday clash at the weekend, while Swansea remain ninth on 40 points.
Player ratings
Swansea: Fabianski (8), Naughton (6), Amat (6), Williams (6), Taylor (7) Ki (6), Cork (6), Shelvey (6), Sigurdsson (7), Gomis (7), Routledge (6).
Used subs: Emnes (5), Dyer (5), Montero (5).
Liverpool: Mignolet (8), Can (5), Skrtel (7), Sakho (6), Lallana (6), Henderson (8), Allen (7), Moreno (7), Sterling (7), Sturridge (7), Coutinho (7).
Used subs: Johnson (5), Gerrard (6).
Man of the Match: Jordan Henderson.

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