Writer: Gavin John Day
Date:Tuesday September 17 2013
Barclays Premier League
Liverpool lost their 100% start to the new season last night but, all things considered, will have been content to return from Wales with a point.
The line-up selected by Reds boss Brendan Rodgers showed three changes from the team that defeated Manchester United a fortnight ago.
Injuries to Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger meant a reshuffle at the back with Andre Wisdom and debutant Mamadou Sakho drafted in.
In attack, another of Liverpool's deadline day recruits, Victor Moses, was also handed a debut at the expense of Iago Aspas.
Former Anfield midfielder Jonjo Shelvey lined up for Swansea following his summer switch and, as often happens when a player faces his former club, the ex-Red made an instant impact on the contest.
Two minutes in, and after the 21-year-old had confused everyone with an air shot on the edge of the box, he fortuitously took advantage and burst into the box.
There his next attempt on goal was brilliantly blocked by the sliding Martin Skrtel but the ball broke kindly back to Shelvey who slotted past Simon Mignolet into the far corner.
Dramatically and with many home fans still celebrating the opener, their new hero quickly turned villain less than two minutes later when a poor back pass gifted Sturridge the simple task of slotting home from close range.
Although the goal owed everything to Shelvey's moment of madness, credit must go to Sturridge for being alive to the danger.
The January signing from Chelsea now has four in four in the Premier League this season and 12 in his last 10 appearances overall.
Next to test the opposition keeper was Philippe Coutinho with an effort from distance but his 7th minute shot was straight at Michel Vorm.
Mignolet was faced with a harder task at the other end shortly afterwards but did well to pull off a solid diving stop to thwart Wilfried Bony's fizzing low drive.
As the opening half progressed towards the half hour mark, the game was living up to its billing as a footballing spectacle with a number of flowing passing moves on show.
During the period, Moses showed some great pace and skill down the left and his dinked cross should have led to Liverpool's second but surprisingly Sturridge could only head straight at Vorm from close range.
For Swansea, Bony and Michu combined neatly on the edge of the area but the former wasted the opening by shooting weekly at Mignolet.
The next goal finally arrived in the 36th minute and again the Reds capitalised on sloppy play from Shelvey.
The England international, under no pressure, passed straight to Moses who duly drove at the heart of the Swans defence before wrong-footing Vorm with an intelligent low finish.
The hosts almost mirrored Liverpool by equalising seconds later but Mignolet produced a top save to keep out Michu's powerful effort.
Skrtel was then forced into a brave, last gasp block as Bony looked set to score following a Mignolet parry.
The break allowed both teams to draw breath after a frantic opening 45 minutes and it was Liverpool who duly started the second half the stronger.
A series of dangerous free-kicks could easily have led to a goal; Jordan Henderson miscuing the most presentable of the openings produced.
One of the free-kicks in question was awarded for a dangerously high tackle by Ashley Williams on Coutinho which soon resulted in the Brazilian needing to be substituted. Iago Aspas the man to replace him.
The game entered a more stop-start period around the hour mark as injury to Coutinho was followed by one for Bony, the Swans striker getting clattered by Mignolet as the shot stopper punched away a cross.
A further delay was caused by a disagreement between Lucas Leiva and Shelvey which resulted in a pushing match and a long ticking-off from referee Michael Oliver, who eventually yellow carded the pair.
Shelvey just wouldn't stay out of the action and his topsy turvy performance took a turn for the better when a smart knockdown allowed Michu to bring the scores level with a side-foot finish which Mignolet got fingertips too but couldn't keep out.
A well worked goal but one the Liverpool defence could, and should, have done more to stop.
Shelvey, the one-time Charlton Athletic player, almost put the Welshmen back in front minutes later with a free-kick but his low drive was well held by Mignolet.
Michu and Jonathan De Guzman, both on two occasions each, then had half chances to win it in the final 20 minutes as Swansea finished by far the stronger.
That said, a swift counter-attack involving Raheem Sterling and Sturridge did almost allow Aspas to nick it for the Merseysiders right at the death.
Eventually, after a lengthy period of stoppage time caused by the earlier injuries, Oliver brought the game to a halt with the score remaining at 2-2.
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Date:Tuesday September 17 2013
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