Liverpool narrow the gap with a 1-0 win over Swansea


James Milner scored from the spot for the second match running to earn Liverpool a hard-fought 1-0 win over Swansea City at Anfield on Sunday.

Milner was on target with a penalty in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League victory over Bordeaux and he proved Liverpool’s matchwinner against Garry Monk’s side after the hosts had looked set for a frustrating stalemate, handing manager Jurgen Klopp his first BPL victory at Anfield.

Liverpool were on top for large spells prior to Milner’s goal shortly after the hour but lacked a cutting edge without playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who was not risked following a hamstring problem picked up in the 4-1 win over Manchester City.

Captain Jordan Henderson and striker Daniel Sturridge made their long-awaited returns from injury from the bench to feature under Klopp for the first time – adding gloss to a third victory in a row in all competitions that lifts Liverpool to sixth in the table.

The result means that Swansea have one win from their last 10 league fixtures.

Following back-to-back wins over City and Bordeaux, Liverpool began confidently and almost went ahead five minutes in via Kyle Bartley. Jordon Ibe burst forward and Bartley’s challenge diverted the ball onto Lukasz Fabianski’s right-hand post.

Ibe – one of two Liverpool changes due to Coutinho’s injury and Lucas Leiva’s suspension – was heavily involved in the opening stages as Liverpool dominated possession.

Missing suspended Jonjo Shelvey, Swansea gradually grew into the contest around the half-hour mark but, like their hosts, could not muster a shot on target before the interval.

Having survived early Liverpool pressure, Swansea were on top after the break but Ibe had the first effort of the second period when he forced Fabianski into a save down to his right.

And Klopp’s men broke the deadlock on 62 minutes when Taylor was adjudged to have handled Ibe’s delivery and Milner produced an impressive penalty to beat Fabianski.

Henderson was introduced soon after for his first appearance since mid-August and assumed the captain’s armband from Milner before Sturridge featured for the first time in almost two months.

The striker missed the midweek success after sustaining a knock in training but almost got himself on the end of Milner’s wayward shot at the far post shortly after his introduction.

Swansea substitutes Jefferson Montero and Befetimbi Gomis saw late shots blocked as Liverpool’s momentum continued to grow ahead of Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final at Southampton.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “It was really difficult for both teams, the wind was in the stadium more than the stands.

“Swansea defended very well. They had some problems in the last few games but they were more compact. I am proud of the lads. It is a good result in difficult circumstances.”

Swansea manager Garry Monk: “I am gutted for my players as they were excellent. I have no complaints over the performance.

“We didn’t look like a team in trouble. We are not going to make excuses, I know we need results but if we play like that it is a given. It was an excellent performance which deserved much more than it got. I take full responsibility for this period. You can see players are working hard to put it right.”

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