With each passing minute, the noise got louder. On each side of the ground, they chanted and sang and, for the first time this season, showed unity.
The Liberty Stadium has not offered Swansea much freedom in this most testing campaign but, when it mattered, the locals came together. The outcome, against the odds, was a performance to give hope that, perhaps, all is not lost.
Liverpool arrived in South Wales on the back of an 18-match unbeaten run but they left in a state of shock, flattened by a goal from the unlikely source of Alfie Mawson and their hopes to put distance between themselves and Tottenham and Arsenal punctured.
Liverpool and Swansea players watch on as Alfie Mawson’s (3rd right) strike makes its way into the bottom corner
Liverpool goalkeeper Lois Karius can’t prevent Mawson’s (right) first-time effort creeping into the bottom corner
Van Dijk (3rd right) can’t hide his disappointment after his error gifted Mawson (centre) the chance to give his side the lead
Mawson (2nd left) celebrates with his team-mates after giving his team a surprise lead against the Reds on Monday night
Man-of-the-match Lukasz Fabianski celebrates after his team’s surprise victory over Liverpool on Monday night
MATCH STATS, PLAYER RATINGS AND MATCH ZONE
SWANSEA (3-5-2): Fabianski 8: Van der Hoorn 7, Fernandez 7, Mawson 7.5: Naughton 7, Clucas 6, Fer 7, Ki 6, Olsson 7: Ayew 6, Dyer 6 (Carroll 64mins 6)
Subs not used: Nordfelt (GK), Bony, Narsingh, Carroll, Bartley, Mesa, McBurnie
Goals: Mawson (40)
Manager: Carlos Carvalhal 8
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Karius 6: Gomez 6, Van Dijk 6.5, Matip 6, Robertson 6: Oxlade-Chamberlain 5.5 (Lallana 68mins 6), Can 5.5, Wijnaldum 6: Salah 6.5, Firmino 6, Mane 5.5
Subs not used: Mignolet (GK), Milner, Klavan, Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold
Booked: Robertson, Matip
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 6
Referee: N Swarbrick 7
Man-of-the-Match: Lukas Fabianksi
- Premier League
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They could have no complaints. This was a performance not seen since the anaemic days of autumn, a display that left Jurgen Klopp frothing with frustration. Swansea’s stoicism and resilience drove him to distraction.
When these sides met on Boxing Day, there was an air of inevitability about the outcome even before the game started. Swansea travelled to Merseyside on a low ebb and the performance they mustered was spiritless and shambolic. Liverpool didn’t need to be at their best to thrash them 5-0.
It was evident from an early stage here, though, that Klopp’s side were going to have to work much harder to extend their unbeaten run. Swansea were organised and, no doubt, aware last season’s great escape began with a victory, against the odds, over Liverpool at Anfield on January 21.
What Carvalhal needed was maximum concentration from his players and the new manager, as he tried to impart his orders, was a persistent, fidgeting presence on the touchline, demanding they stay compact to keep the door closed to Liverpool.
Both sets of players paid tribute to Jimmy Armfield and Cyrille Regis prior to the Premier League showdown
Van Dijk (centre) goes close with a header after rising highest to meet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross in the first half
Mohamed Salah squanders one of Liverpool’s best chances of the first half as he fires his left-footed volley over the bar
Salah shows his frustration after missing a good chance to give his team the lead against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium
He knew Liverpool were going to dominate possession. What he didn’t want was any gifts being handed out and, in the opening half, the division’s basement team stuck to the letter of Carvalhal’s law, denying space and snapping into tackles, gradually regaining the trust of their supporters.
Liverpool, by contrast, lacked the ingenuity and speed that saw them torpedo Manchester City’s unbeaten run eight days earlier. This, arguably, was as ineffective as Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have been all season, with not one of them managing to get a shot on target.
The closest Liverpool came to finding a way through was when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain whipped a corner in the 23rd minute onto the head of Van Dijk, who had climbed above Fernandez but could not direct the ball into the corner of Fabianski’s net.
Van Dijk, starting his first Premier League game for Liverpool, had looked all class. He was efficient with his clearances, crisp with his passing and his huge physical presence screamed authority; he missed nothing in the air, either, so it was a shock when another header led to the opening goal.
Sadio Mane fails to control his effort after meeting Roberto Firmino’s cross with a volley minutes before half-time
Senegalese forward Mane shows his frustration after passing up an inviting chance to draw his team level
Salah fires a fine free-kick towards the top left corner before it is tipped over the bar by Lukasz Fabianski (right)
Liverpool’s top scorer looks on after watching his free-kick get saved brilliantly by the Swansea goalkeeper
Swansea had struggled to create a clear opportunity but in the 40th minute they took the lead. Van Dijk met Martin Olsson’s corner but his header bounced off Federico Fernandez’s legs and Mawson, who had been left unmarked, swept in a crisp finish.
They have been looking to catch a break like this for some time but what Fernandez could not have expected was his nose being broken in the celebrations: as he hugged Mawson, Mike Van Der Hoorn leapt onto his back, jolting the captain’s face into Mawson. It left him requiring lengthy treatment.
His absence from the playing field, as Swansea’s medical staff sprayed and bandaged the wound, could have had costly ramifications but in a quick break in first half injury time, Mane fired wide when charging into the space Fernandez would have been to meet a cross from Salah.
English striker Danny Ings comes close to drawing his side level after making space for himself in the Swansea box
Ings holds his head in his hands after Fabianski’s save denied him his first Premier League goal of the season
Klopp sent Liverpool out early for the second half and, soon enough, his anxiety about the deficit they had to retrieve could be seen in his actions: pointing, whistling, bickering with the fourth official and assistant referee when things failed to go his side’s way.
This was not going to be an easy task. Carvalhal had sent Swansea out to stifle and frustrate and Liverpool were faced with the task of trying to pass their way through a white wall that had been built 18 yards in front of goal.
Having failed to keep a Premier League clean sheet since December 9, nullifying the second highest scorers in the country was going to take a huge effort but it was one which Swansea were keen to undertake, the five-man defence giving Liverpool’s attack no space to breath.
Roberto Firmino’s header bounces back off the post in the closing stages of Monday’s Premier League clash
Adam Lallana blazed over the bar with the goal at his mercy after Firmino’s header had come back off the woodwork
Firmino shows his dejection after coming agonisingly close to rescuing his side in injury time at the Liberty Stadium
For all that Liverpool passed and probed, they kept being pushed down blind alleys. Carvalhal, for all his initially jumpiness, exuded calm as he watched feet being put in and heads thrown in the way. It said everything a free-kick from Salah, superbly saved by Fabianski, was one of Liverpool’s biggest chances.
The Reds had a chance to rescue a point in the dying seconds but Firmino hit the post before Adam Lallana blazed over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
You could see there and then it was going to be one of those nights. And the more Liverpool failed to find a way through, the noisier the home crowd became. They enjoyed this one. To clamber away from peril, they need many more like it.
Swansea City manager Carlos Carvalhal pumps his fists after securing a crucial three points in the relegation battle
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp looks on after suffering his first Premier League defeat in three months to the bottom team