Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool looking up and determined to make top four after Henderson clinches winner against Swansea

Swansea 0-1 Liverpool

By Andrew Gwilym

If Liverpool end up playing Champions League football next season they may look upon Jordan Henderson's fortunate winner last night as the key moment in the remarkable recovery they have forged over the second half of the season.

For most of the opening hour, Liverpool had been second best to a hungry Swansea side who should have held the lead after creating half a dozen presentable chances.

But that profligacy proved costly when Henderson inadvertently found the net in the 68th minute, thanks to Jordi Amat's tackle cannoning off the Liverpool captain and past Lukasz Fabianski.

It was harsh on Swansea but Brendan Rodgers won't care as his side made it 13 games unbeaten and moved within two points of fourth-placed Manchester United ahead of their key meeting at Anfield on Sunday.

The Reds boss was pleased with the second-half display. He said: "I thought we were outstanding in the second half. In the first half we were nowhere near the level we expect.

"In the first half the 3-4-3 didn't work. 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.

"It doesn't matter what system you play, the attitude and the energy are important. We weren't on it in the first half.

"There's no doubt Simon Mignolet's back to his best. We needed him in the first half. He's been excellent. Clearly now, you see his confidence, along with the team's."

Once upon a time it would have been Steven Gerrard producing the key moment. He was only on the bench here following recent injury, but he was on the field by the time Henderson struck.

The former Sunderland man's constant cajoling and motivating will not have gone unnoticed by Gerrard.

Liverpool enjoyed a couple of bright early moments, and Daniel Sturridge registered the first shot but fired wide.

Despite those scares, Swansea looked lively and soon it was the visiting defence worrying. Joe Allen made a key tackle as Bafetimbi Gomis bore down on goal.

Gomis thought he had found the opener when his powerful header from Wayne Routledge's cross beat Simon Mignolet, but was headed to safety.

Gylfi Sigurdsson curled an effort over the bar and later produced a more accurate strike that had Mignolet at full stretch.

Liverpool were listless, and they were almost punished from the resulting corner as Jonjo Shelvey struck a shot that would have found the net but for Alberto Moreno.

There was finally some spark to Pool's play in the second period. Philippe Coutinho almost gave them the lead after Raheem Sterling's astute cutback, but it was little surprise when Rodgers summoned Gerrard.

Within five minutes of his introduction Liverpool led, although it had nothing to do with him. Instead it was the man who had taken the Anfield armband off him who landed the critical blow.

Sturridge's flick put Henderson in against Amat, the Spaniard got in to make the tackle but the ball struck the midfielder and into the net.

Sturridge then hit the post but one goal proved enough.

Swansea: Fabianski, Naughton, Amat, Williams, Taylor, Sung-yueng (Dyer 80), Cork, Shelvey, Gomis, Sigurdsson (Emnes 89), Routledge (Montero 73). Subs not used: Britton, Castro Oliveira, Rangel, Tremmel

LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Lallana (Johnson 88), Henderson, Allen, Moreno (Gerrard 64), Sterling, Sturridge, Coutinho. Subs not used: Jones, K Touré, Lovren, Lambert, Markovic.

Goal: Henderson 68

Man of match: Henderson

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Roger East

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