Liverpool 4-3 Swansea City
Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson scored two goals each to maintain Liverpool's Premier League charge in a thrilling 4-3 win over Swansea City at Anfield on Sunday.
But the Reds were made to fight hard for the points by a Welsh team, who do not look like relegation candidates on this form.
Sturridge opened the scoring in the third-minute before Henderson grabbed the second for Liverpool in the 20th-minute.
The game appeared to have already been lost for Swansea, but Jonjo Shelvey clawed Garry Monk's side back into the match with a terrific first-time hit in the 23rd-minute.
Anfield was then left stunned as Wilfried Bony grabbed an equaliser three minutes later, but Sturridge headed home in the 35th-minute to give Liverpool the lead again.
But the home side were pegged back again after the interval when Bony picked himself up from a Martin Skrtel foul inside the area to slot home the 48th-minute penalty.
With 15 minutes remaining, though, Henderson prodded home the winner for Liverpool, who became the Premier League's highest goalscorers this season with their four-goal haul.
Swansea had been holding the ball very well in the opening stages, but Liverpool's strike force was not going to allow that situation to last long.
And sure enough, Sturridge was on target for the Reds in only the third-minute.
Raheem Sterling was the architect of the goal, bursting forward from his own half before playing a tremendous ball into the path of Sturridge, who fired home.
Raheem Sterling with the most outrageous through ball with the outside of his boot. "RAAAHEEEEM" exclaims @benburrows_— Alex Richards (@AA_Richards) February 23, 2014
Moments later, Sterling almost added his name to the scoresheet, but Michel Vorm was equal to his effort.
The visitors were not without their own threat, though, with Bony firing just over Simon Mignolet's crossbar.
But, in the 20th-minute, Liverpool added a second through Henderson.
Sturridge turned provider this time, playing a fine ball in to the midfielder after swivelling through two Swansea players. Henderson took one touch and sent a curling ball beyond Vorm.
Jordan Henderson is arguably the most improved player in the PL. Has to be under serious consideration for WC.— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) February 23, 2014
However, the two-goal advantage did not last long as Shelvey hauled his team back into it.
The ball was played across the area and the former Liverpool midfielder struck it first time and left Mignolet with no chance as his effort smacked off the underside of the bar.
GOAL! Shelvey scores a stunner and then apologises to the Kop.— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) February 23, 2014
Four minutes later, Swansea stunned Anfield with an equaliser.
A free-kick was awarded after Martin Skrtel challenged Shelvey and an unmarked Bony headed home the subsequent set-piece to make it 2-2, although the Liverpool defender appeared to get a touch as it headed towards goal.
Who was marking Bony there? #LFC— Vince (@vincetalksfooty) February 23, 2014
The equaliser clearly spurred Liverpool, and they were back in front in the 35th-minute through Sturridge.
This time, Suarez engineered the goal with an excellent cross after a fine passing move, and the England international was at the back post to head home.
That goal also drew Liverpool level with Manchester City as highest Premier League goalscorers this season with 69.
Seconds later, the Uruguay international launched an audacious effort from the halfway line. Vorm was beaten, but the ball dropped wide of the post.
Nathan Dyer squandered a great chance to equalise in the 45th-minute when he dragged a shot wide of goal.
Three minutes after the interval, Swansea were back on level terms again.
Skrtel was again deemed to be at fault in his challenge with Bony inside the area, and referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot, from where the Swansea man slotted home.
I don't think anyone could complain about the entertainment at Anfield so far today but any chance of anyone doing a bit of defending?— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) February 23, 2014
Vorm was on hand to deny Suarez moments after the equaliser, when great play between Sturridge and Sterling freed the striker. But the Swansea goalkeeper parried his effort away.
Swansea almost took the lead in the 59th-minute. Bony set Jonathan De Guzman clear, but the Dutchman fired against the legs of Mignolet.
In the 69th-minute, Liverpool were appealing for a penalty after Suarez went down, but referee Jones dismissed the calls.
But four minutes later, the Reds took the lead again with Henderson's second of the game.
A long pass from Steven Gerrard was collected by Suarez, whose shot was blocked by Ashley Williams. But the ball fell for Henderson, who saw his initial shot stopped by Vorm, but the midfielder was on hand to slot home the rebound.
It was harsh on the visitors, who had offered so much to the entertainment of the game. But Liverpool kept up their chase for the title with the win.
Selected player ratings:
Daniel Sturridge A:
We are running out of adjectives to describe the Liverpool striker this season. His opener equalled the long-standing record of Ruud van Nistelrooy for scoring in successive Premier League matches. Few would back against him breaking it.
Martin Skrtel B:
Not a day the Liverpool defender will have enjoyed. Might have been harsh to award a free-kick against him for Swansea's second goal, but his challenge on Bony for the penalty was inadvisable.
Wilfried Bony A:
Swansea striker took his chances well and, on this form, should be able to keep his team in the top flight next season.
Jordan Henderson A+:
On this form, the Liverpool midfielder must be a strong candidate to join the England World Cup squad in the summer. An excellent display by the Reds star, capped with his goals.
Liverpool make the lengthy trip to the south coast for the Premier League game against Southampton next Saturday, while Swansea will be in Italy on Thursday for the Europa League round of 32 second leg against Napoli.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told the official club website:
Jordan showed great leadership today. You could see him driving the team on.
His first goal was an outstanding goal. We've been talking to him about getting up there (into the penalty area), because in training his finishing is sublime. He practises and he works at it.
But what was really pleasing for me was his second goal. We've been telling him to get into the box and arrive in there, because he's got the energy and the legs to do that.
The thing I always say to the midfield players, those advanced ones is, 'Can you get inside the six-yard box?'
People always talk about getting into the penalty area, and I always try and get them to get inside the six-yard box. And that's where his goal has come from.
It was a terrific reaction save from Michel Vorm from his first effort on goal and then he's followed in and kept going and got his finish and that was a really important goal for us. He was outstanding today.
Swansea striker Wilfried Bony told the club's official website:
It’s great to get my first league goals away from the Liberty Stadium.
I was talking to Nathan (Dyer) about it, and he told me I had a great chance to do it against Stoke.
It was playing in the back of my mind a little, but finally I’ve got some away goals in the league although it counts for little as we lost.