After only gaining one point on the road previous to their trip to Anfield, Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm made sure that there would be another point gained this time around after pulling off a string of spectacular saves late in the match in what was a very entertaining nil-nil draw.
Liverpool started the tie very brightly with an attack that should’ve put Liverpool one ahead after just seven minutes. Charlie Adam had played a beautifully weighted pass to Stewart Downing that cut open Swansea’s defence on the left hand side and swung the ball in to Andy Carroll who smashed the ball into the crossbar when the £35 million man really should’ve converted the chance.
There were a flurry of chances for Liverpool after Carroll’s effort was denied by the frame of the goal. Luis Suarez and Stewart Downing both attempted to test Michel Vorm but their chances were both off target. Suarez’s second attempt was a much greater test for the Dutchman between the sticks. After a Charlie Adam shot ricocheted off a Swansea defender, Suarez acted quickly to regain the ball and take a fantastic instinctive shot at goal. Vorm had to be on his toes to keep the ball out, which he palmed away for a corner.
It wasn’t all one way traffic for the home side in the first half though. The visitors battled back well, keeping their footballing philosophy and attempting to frustrate the Reds with an effective pass and move game. It was Wayne Routledge, only named in the starting eleven after Scott Sinclair picked up a hamstring injury in training that restricted him to the bench, who was the architect for Swansea’s best chance of the half.
Routledge squirmed his way between the Liverpool defence to fire in a cross that only caught the slightest of touches from Danny Graham but Jose Reina was at full stretch to keep the effort out.
Whilst Liverpool had the edge in the first half, taking 15 attempts at goal – albeit only 2 on target – and edging the posession statistics, the second half was a frantic affair for both teams.
Despite Reina’s heroic save in the first half, it was almost due to a calamitous error that allowed Danny Graham an opportunity on an open goal. After a pass back from the Daniel Agger, the Spaniard let the ball roll without realising Graham was closing in on goal on his blind side. Graham couldn’t make the most of the opportunity as Reina managed to clear the ball into safety.
However, redemption was near for the Liverpool captain after his aforementioned error. Twice he was tested by the Swansea front line, the first came from Nathan Dyer who noticed Reina off his line and sprung onto a through ball. His effort was parried away for a corner, but Dyer wasn’t finished yet. Minutes later the pocket rocket winger fired another shot at Reina who couldn’t hold onto the save, the ball spilled to Graham but his shot was also denied.
One potential turning point of the game was yet again in Swansea’s favour. After getting booked for a foul on Wayne Routledge, Daniel Agger was on the brink of not only getting sent off but conceding a penalty after cutting off Leon Britton on the line of the 18 yard box. Referee Phil Dowd denied Swansea a chance from the spot, giving them a free kick on the edge of the area, and also kept his cards in his pocket for Agger’s offence.
Swansea’s final chance, of what was a fruitful second half for them thus far, came to the feet of Mark Gower who blazed his effort, from an unmarked area of the 18 yard box, over the bar. The chance came from another Nathan Dyer brake on the right wing, his cross reached Danny Graham who cleverly headed down the ball to find Gower lurking but he couldn’t make the most of his chance.
Whilst Swansea had the main chances of the majority of the second half, the dying embers of the match belonged to Liverpool.
Dirk Kuyt, who came on as a half time substitute for Jordan Henderson, had a goal ruled offside and it was a fantastic call to do so. Daniel Agger headed the ball on to Kuyt, who’s approach for a diving header past his countryman Vorm, was just past the final Swansea man.
Moments later Liverpool still piled on the pressure. Luis Suarez struck a sweet, curving shot which forced Vorm in to one of many impressive saves in the final minutes of the game.
However, the save of the game came from a viciously struck volley from Glen Johnson. Vorm had to make an instantaneous reflex save to prevent the shot which looked destined to hit the back of the net.
Liverpool’s last push to take three points was spearheaded by a penalty appeal by Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan was brought to ground by Angel Rangel but replays suggest that Phil Dowd most likely made the right decision to deny the penalty in the 92nd minute.
As the final whistle blew, Liverpool fans and players alike must’ve been bewildered about how they have not managed to get past Michel Vorm with their late assault on the Swansea goal.
The draw kept Swansea in a very respectful 10th place and Liverpool tie themselves on points with Tottenham and Arsenal for 5th place. After the international break both teams will have tough opposition with Liverpool having to travel to Stamford Bridge and Swansea hosting Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium.