Thursday 25 May 2017

Jurgen Klopp inspires Liverpool rally by refusing to accept bad day

Swansea 1 Liverpool 2

Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho tussles with Swansea’s Jack Cork in the Reds’ 2-1 victory at the Liberty Stadium yesterday. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.
Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho tussles with Swansea’s Jack Cork in the Reds’ 2-1 victory at the Liberty Stadium yesterday. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.

Graham Thomas

Jurgen Klopp had reason to thank Roberto Firmino for the blossoming of Liverpool's title credentials even before the autumn leaves have started to fall.

The Liverpool manager had talked before this game of how collective confidence was a delicate flower that needed care and nurturing if it was to grow.

Swansea threatened to stamp on Klopp's green shoots for periods in this game but, by the time Firmino had equalised Leroy Fer's opener for a gallant Swansea and then earned the penalty from which James Milner won the game, everything in Klopp's garden was looking far more rosy.

This was a fourth straight victory for Liverpool and the German could at least take some satisfaction from his team's powers of recovery after a sluggish start that he could not account for.

"We were not ready for that first half and I take responsibility for that, but I cannot tell you why," said Klopp. "We were too static in our build-up. Swansea did well but we should not allowed it to be that that easy. No movement. We were never compact enough and lost a lot of balls."

It needed some harsh words from their manager to revive Liverpool at half-time and their response was a far more urgent performance that produced an equalising goal within nine minutes of the restart.

Liverpool's James Milner celebrates scoring his side's second goal. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.
Liverpool's James Milner celebrates scoring his side's second goal. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.

Philippe Coutinho had his free-kick blocked but, when Jordan Henderson hoisted the ball into the area, Firmino was left alone, and he expertly beat Lukasz Fabianski with a precise header.

That might have been all the reward Liverpool departed with had Swansea substitute Mo Barrow not put Angel Rangel under pressure with a reckless, aimless clearance six minutes from time.

Rangel got the wrong side of Firmino and, although it may have been harsh judgment to have awarded the penalty for the push on the Brazilian, Klopp's side just about deserved it for the sheer dominance of their second-half display. They will face tougher assignments than this, but their refusal to accept a bad day at the office with a shrug of the shoulders was an indicator of how things have changed at Anfield.

The only downside for Klopp were injuries to Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren, who both suffered groin injuries. Both are expected to be out for two weeks, which denies Lallana the chance of playing in England's forthcoming World Cup qualifers.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (second from left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (second from left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.

"I was very angry at half-time. I have lost a lot of football games, but today was making no sense. It was not a day when we should lose," added Klopp. "I told the players it was not allowed for us to just accept a bad day. We have to fight against it. We have to strike back. We lost patience and were moaning about decisions. We need to stop that."

Firminho's pace and the probing of Coutinho swayed the second half in Liverpool's favour after Swansea had taken a deserved lead after only eight minutes.

The visitors' defence looked pedestrian from the opening stages and it was no real surprise when they reacted slowly at a corner allowing Fer to sweep home the opening goal. It was the Dutch midfielder's fourth of the season.

Swansea, however, ran out of steam early in the second half. In the end, they paid the price for not taking further opportunities when they were ahead. Spanish striker Borja Baston was especially guilty as he twice sent tame headers wide of the target when he should have scored.

The Swans also had a late chance to earn a point, but defender Mike van der Hoorn fluffed another effort from in front of goal in added time. The result leaves Swansea still looking for their first victory since the opening day of the season and pushed manager Francesco Guidolin closer to the brink.

The Italian admitted his side had wasted an opportunity.

"Against a team like Liverpool, it was important to score again," he said. "It wasn't easy but I am disappointed. It was the same situation as last week against Manchester City. Our first half was better than the last game, though. We deserved to lead, but we know Liverpool is a strong team.

"In the second half, the right result would have been draw. The first half was ours, the second belonged to Liverpool. At the end, we had a big chance, but that is football. You can play a good game, but not get a good result. But I am confident because I saw my team play for 95 minutes with character and quality."

Telegraph

Telegraph.co.uk

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