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Jordan Henderson's late goal kept Liverpool's Barclays Premier League title bid on track as they earned a thrilling 4-3 win over Swansea City.
Daniel Sturridge scored twice to become only the second player – after former Manchester United forward Ruud van Nistelrooy – to net in eight consecutive Barclays Premier League fixtures. The England striker's brace was only one part of a remarkable story that unfolded at Anfield, with five first-half goals setting the tone for a classic.
It took just three minutes for Sturridge to break the deadlock and Henderson's pinpoint finish put Brendan Rodgers' side in the ascendancy midway through the opening half. The game was turned on its head as Jonjo Shelvey and Wilfried Bony scored within three minutes of each other, the former drawing applause from the fans of Liverpool, his former club, after he had arrowed a stunning first-time effort into the top-right corner. Sturridge netted again before the break to take his tally for the season to 18 league goals, but Bony grabbed his second, from the spot, early in the second half. It was Henderson who had the last say, though, his close-range finish sealing the points 16 minutes from time.
Liverpool signalled their intent from the off and took the lead as Raheem Sterling provided a defence-splitting pass for Sturridge, who side-stepped Michel Vorm before slotting home. The visitors did show some early promise, but Henderson's superb right-footed strike from the edge of the box seemingly put the hosts in control with 20 minutes gone.
Swansea needed a response and it was provided two minutes later in emphatic fashion by Shelvey, who scored one and set up another in September's reverse fixture, but was also responsible for a dreadful mistake that led to Sturridge's equaliser in a game that ended 2-2. He exorcised those demons with a glorious shot from 20 yards that left Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal with no chance.
The 21-year-old, making his return to league action from a hamstring injury, refused to celebrate but was applauded by many of the home contingent. Three minutes later Bony levelled matters. Shelvey was on the receiving end of a hefty challenge from Martin Skrtel. The Liverpool defender then appeared to get a decisive touch after Bony had headed goalwards Jonathan de Guzman's free-kick, wrong-footing Mignolet.
The breathless pace of the game continued and Rodgers' men were ahead again before the interval, Sturridge doubling his tally with a neat back-post header from Luis Suarez's cross. Suarez almost joined in the goals himself, lobbing an effort from the halfway line just wide of Vorm's goal.
Swansea levelled two minutes into the second half after Skrtel, already on a yellow, felled Bony going for a cross. The Ivorian picked himself up to convert the spot-kick.
Yet just as it appeared as though Swansea head coach Garry Monk would earn a point against his former manager, Suarez's effort was blocked but fell to Henderson who poked home from inside the six-yard box after his initial shot had been saved by Vorm.
The result moves Liverpool, who hit a post late on through Steven Gerrard, back to within four points of leaders Chelsea, while Swansea remain four points above the drop zone having won just two of their last 13 league games.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "He showed great leadership, Jordan. You could see him driving the team on. His first goal was an outstanding goal.
"We've spoken to him about getting up there - in training his finishing is sublime, he works at it. But what's really pleasing for me is the second goal because we've been speaking to him about getting in the box. He's got the legs and energy to do that.
"The thing I say to those midfield players, the advanced ones, is, 'Can you get in that six-yard box?' People talking about getting in the box, I always try to get them to get into the six-yard box and that's where his goal has come from. That was a really important goal for us.
“Sturridge is a natural goalscorer, great pace - a wonderful pass by young Raheem [Sterling] that gave us the first goal, and a wonderful finish. And the second one is an area of his game that he's been looking to improve, lovely ball by Luis [Suarez] chipped in and he's finished it really well with the header. He just looks like he can score every game, he's got that ability, that quality."
"Up until now we've got away with it [the poor defence]. The problem is it's not coaching. Some of the situations that we concede goals in, you can't coach that. There's a feeling in a game of how to defend and you have to use that experience to be able to defend properly."
Swansea head coach Garry Monk: "We didn't start well. We didn't get the ball moving, we were too slow, we had too many touches. I told the boys that at half-time. It's just that belief. Coming to a team that are trying to compete in winning the league and are right up there with the quality that they've got, we never really got going. But in the second half, we had a right go and we deserved something from the game.
"With the amount of games we've had recently, the fact that they kept up the energy levels right to the end was magnificent. If we'd started like that, the way we did in the second half, it would have been a different game. That's the character we've got. I don't ever worry about that. It's always been there in the group, it's just bringing it out of them and I think it's coming and it's getting better for the boys. To come to a place like this, away from home, where they're destroying teams week-in-week-out, it's all credit to my players, they totally deserved something from the game.
"The fourth goal was a ricochet back into their path and sometimes you can't do anything about it. You create your own luck. In the second half, I knew that if we did it properly, we could get back into the game and we did that. We got the goal and we were looking a threat.
"Towards the end, you ask them to keep on pushing, I think that's the point you need to be either winning the game or drawing the game. We were a credit, we went to the very end again. I can't be prouder of the boys. It was a monumental effort. With the amount of games we've had, it's all credit to them."
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