Ayew brace gives Swansea super win over lacklustre Liverpool

Ayew brace gives Swansea super win over lacklustre Liverpool
(Picture: VAVEL UK)
Swansea City
3 1
Swansea City: Fabianski; Rangel, Amat, Williams, Taylor; Britton (Fulton, min. 90+1), Cork; Sigurdsson, Routledge, Montero (Naughton, min. 73); Ayew.
Liverpool: Ward; Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Smith; Stewart, Chirivella (Lucas, min. 45), Ibe (Brannagan min. 80), Ojo, Coutinho (Benteke, min. 45); Sturridge.
SCORE: 1-0, min. 20, Ayew. 2-0, min. 32, Cork. 2-1, min. 65, Benteke. 3-1, min. 67, Ayew.
REFEREE: Roger East (ENG). Yellow cards: Smith (min. 26 & min. 76), Clyne (min. 38), Cork (min. 40), Skrtel (min. 77). Red card: Smith (min. 76).
INCIDENTS: Barclays Premier League fixture between Swansea City and Liverpool at Liberty Stadium, played in front of 20,520 spectators.

That's all from us today, be sure to stay tuned to VAVEL as we bring you all the latest reaction from this and today's other games. Thank you and goodbye!

FT - As Daniel Sturridge walks off down the tunnel on his own, while the rest of his team shake hands and clap the fans, Swansea celebrate a good win. The hosts are now safe and can enjoy the final two games. André Ayew's brace and a super Jack Cork strike helped them on their way, with only Christian Benteke's goal providing any resistance to the Swans.

FT - Swansea City 3-1 Liverpool.

90+1' Second Swansea switch: Fulton replaces Britton in the first of four minutes added on.

87' Late chance for Sigurdsson, though he flashes past the post. Ayew named man of the match for his brace.

84' It's gone rather flat at the Liberty, the fans are starting to head for the exits to beat the traffic. This one is as good as done.

80' Final Liverpool change: Brannagan replaces Ibe.

77' It could have been four! Swansea appeal for a penalty after Sturridge handles, although it would have been harsh on the striker. The ball drops for Rangel who slaps a half volley towards goal, only to see it catch the side netting. Skrtel booked just prior for a poor tackle.

76' RED CARD! It's a second booking for young Brad Smith, and he's off. A poor high tackle on Naughton sees him heading for the changing room - it's Roger East's first Premier League red card this year.

73' Swansea change: Montero, who finally shows a glimpse of his early season form, is replaced by Naughton.

70' It's been a poor few minutes that has followed the goal, and neither  team have been able to force the issue. Swansea still on top.

67' SWANSEA RESTORE THEIR CUSHION! Super football from the hosts, who take advantage of some really sloppy defending. Clyne initially did well to half Montero, but the winger managed to find Ayew and he slides the ball into the corner; 3-1!

65' GOAL FOR LIVERPOOL! Benteke threatened from a previous set-piece but finds the net here. He wriggles round his marker before powering past Fabianski and into the bottom corner. Game on!

64' The visitors are starting to look more and more of a threat, as Taylor makes a crucial intervention to half Clyne. The defender's studs have caught Fabianski flush in the face - the 'keeper is back up again, however.

61' Adam Lallana is warming up at an increasingly high tempo on the sidelines, he may be Klopp's final change.

60' Klopp feels hard done by after Amat appeared to tug a Liverpool shirt in the area, although it was Benteke penalised by the referee.

58' Almost an own goal! Ojo works well with Smith down the left and his cross is skewed just past the post by Taylor; Benteke had a penalty appeal rejected, and rightly so.

57' Swansea have been comfortable in the early stages of the second half, with neither Lucas or Benteke having any real effect so far.

54' Routledge is nearly through as Lovren's pass doesn't reach Smith, but the Swansea winger slips on the surface and loses possession.

53' He's fine to continue as we resume play, with Liverpool on the front foot.

51' Liverpool kick the ball out of play for Ayew to receive treatment. Has a problem with his foot.

48' The weather starting to take it's toll on proceedings a little now as Clyne watches the ball out for a goal-kick, under pressure from Montero.

46' Half-time substitutions for the visitors. Benteke and Lucas replacing Coutinho and Chirivella. Two up top for the Reds.

12:55. Has Klopp already planned his changes? Lucas and Benteke are both warming up on the pitch at half-time. Funnily enough, last weekend they drew 2-2 having surrendered a two-goal lead. Can they do the reverse on Swansea here? They'll have to get their changes spot on if they are to stand any chance.

12:50. One way traffic in that first-half, with Swansea thoroughly on top. They're worthy of their two-goal lead and might be disappointed the game isn't well and truly out of sight. They've made things difficult for their youthful opponents, who are in need of a huge half-time team talk to get back into this one.

HT: Swansea 2-0 Liverpool. 

44' Chance for Liverpool from a set-piece after Coutinho is brought down but Sturridge fires well over the bar. Wasted opportunity. Meanwhile, there'll be one minute of stoppage time to come.

40' Another booking, this time for goalscorer Cork who fouls Stewart.

40' Half-time substitutions surely on the cards at this rate for Liverpool. They're in desperate need of some inspiration and this isn't exactly the perfect warm-up for Thursday's Villarreal second-leg until now.

38' Questionable decision from Roger East as Clyne goes into the book for what seemed an acceptable challenge on Montero. Second yellow of the game and the second yellow of the game for a Liverpool full-back.

37' Sturridge has another shot, but this one isn't troubling Fabianski as he curls it into his hands from distance. Liverpool at least starting to show some signs of life in the back foot, they've been on the back foot for much of this game so far.

36' Almost a goal back for Liverpool as Sturridge finds space towards the left side of the box from Ojo's ball. He opts for a chip on the run, but it falls just wide of the target. Unlucky.

35' An eye-opening first-half so far for Liverpool. They've been on the rocks across the pitch, only goalkeeper Danny Ward exempt from much criticism, and there's every chance Swansea could score more before the break. They're full of confidence.

33' Absolutely terrific goal from the Swans. They seize possession and Cork picks it up, drives forward and curls an effort beyond Ward and into the top corner. No 'keeper saves that one.

32' GOAL! 2-0. Is that it? Swansea double their lead through Cork and Liverpool are on the rocks. 

30' Ward almost single-handedly keeping his team in this as he makes another save, this time to deny Montero's near-post strike.

29' Liverpool riding their luck at the minute. They've been second best in every department and are at sixes and sevens defensively. With the quality of Sigurdsson's set-piece deliveries, it's surely only a matter of time that the Swans increase their advantage at this rate.

28' More class from Swansea as a thunderous round of applause rings around the stadium in honour of the 96 and the Hillsborough families. 

27' How is it not 2-0?! Exceptional delivery from Sigurdsson who fizzes a ball into the near post and with Lovren not picking up Amat, somehow the Swansea man manages to header over the crossbar from right underneath it.  

26' Stunning save! Ward dives one way but manages to extend his legs to deny Cork's shot from beating him from around 10 yards out. A few moments later, Smith goes into the book and Sigurdsson will get another chance to whip the ball into the box.

25' Ibe tries an effort from the edge of the box after working space for himself from Coutinho's lay-off, but it rolls along the turf and lands comfortably enough in Fabianski's grasp.

24' Swansea well deserving of their advantage at the Liberty Stadium as they continue to put their visiting opponents under pressure. They may have won their last three home games 1-0, but it seems like there's more than just a single goal in this one.

22' Almost a very good response from Liverpool, as Coutinho goes down in the box but sees nothing given by Roger East. The Reds retain the ball and Sturridge is brought down but as the referee waves play on, Chirivella can't quite pick out Ojo's run as Fabianski gathers his pass.

21' Too easy for Swansea. Sturridge, the man initially picking Ayew up, just lets him go and no-one challenges the striker - who heads in from just three or four yards out. Poor.

20' GOAL! Swansea lead 1-0 and Ayew rises high to meet Sigurdsson's corner.

20' Great defending from Amat, who shows Ojo the byline but promptly cuts off the hungry winger's run to win the ball back and set up a counter. Some precise passing upfield finds Ayew on the edge of the area and Lovren is on hand to make a crucial interception and divert the striker's shot wide for a corner. Excellent defending.

19' Some lovely footwork from Coutinho teases Cork in to foul him. That kind of guile and quality hasn't been on show too often from Liverpool thus far.

18' He does exactly that, but Sturridge meets the delivery. Swansea manage to keep the ball in and around the box but Coutinho is on hand to prevent Cork's through ball meeting Sigurdsson in the area.

17' Swansea putting their sluggish opponents under the cosh in this last 5-10 minutes. Ayew wins a foul out of Skrtel around 35-yards from goal, giving them a free-kick Sigurdsson will look to hang into the box. 

15' Liverpool's midfield, Stewart and Chirivella, struggling at the moment. Klopp and co. are conceding possession very easily and look sloppy thus far. Their inexperience showing.

13' Taylor meets a half-cleared ball after a corner, but Skrtel stands strong to block his long-range drive. The home side with the momentum at the minute as Ayew fires wide. 

11' Almost a chance for Swansea! Some lacklustre defending allows Ayew to lay the ball off for Sigurdsson on the edge of the area but his first-time strike is an easy save for Ward.

9' Sturridge has Liverpool's first shot of the game, and maybe even the first shot of either of the two teams, but fires wide on the volley after Ibe's cross.

7' Few words in the ear of Brad Smith from referee Roger East after he goes in late on Routledge. Poor tackle from the defender. Free-kick leads to nothing, however.

5' The visitors seeing plenty of the ball, although little of it has come past the halfway line. Ayew, in a No.9 role for Swansea, looking lively early on. 

3' Certainly a bit of zip to the pitch, with passes skidding across the surface with some pace. After Chirivella loses the ball, Swansea surge forward but Routledge and Ayew are unable to bring the ball under control in the box between themselves. 

1' And we're off! Liverpool get the game started in South Wales.

Here they come! Both sets of players enter the pitch. A pitch which I might add has been smattered by rain over the last few hours. That might make for a greasy surface and an entertaining game. Kick off coming any moment now.

Swans captain Ashley Williams also adds in his programme notes: "It has been an emotional week, I am sure, for anyone connected with the city of Liverpool following the conclusion of the Hillsborough inquests. I was delighted to see the verdict last week. Justice for the 96 has finally been done, and I am pleased that the families of the victims have been vindicated for their 27-year battle for the truth."

As we approach kick-off, Swansea's classy tributes to the 96 supporters who were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough have to be commended. One page of their programme reads: "We salute you. Swansea City Football Club pays tribute, respect and love to the Hillsborough families whose 27-year fight for justice has finally delivered the truth. Your display of courage, strength and spirit through such heartbreaking times has been truly heroic. Vindication is irrefutable and the whole world knows it. We salute you, Fighters for Justice, for the greatest victory in the history of the greatest game and remember the 96 loved ones who tragically lost their lives. You will always be remembered. RIP the 96." 

Jürgen Klopp, speaking pre-match: "I have no idea [whether we can qualify for the Champions League through the league]. It depends on the results. I’m very optimistic for the game. I really trust these players. We have to collect points as much as we can."

I know you love your stats, so here's another one, and it's quite an incredible one.  Today's Liverpool team is their youngest EVER starting XI in the Premier League era at just 23 years and 218 days. Skrtel is the oldest in the team, at 31, while 26-year-olds Sturridge and Lovren are the joint second-oldest. 

Sturridge has scored in 6 of his last 7 Barclays Premier League appearances and having hinted that he still believes he can go on to bigger and better things, like his former strike partner Luis Suarez who is thriving at Barcelona, he'll be looking to prove a point again today. He was frustrated at not playing in Spain in midweek, as were many supporters, and so he'll be hoping to show Klopp he's worthy of a starting spot this coming Thursday for the return.

Did you know? Liverpool have made more defensive errors (29) than any other team across Europe's top 5 leagues this season. Leaky. 

Only half-an-hour to go until today's early kick-off. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was visibly angry at having to kick off at 12pm today in his pre-match press conference earlier in the week. His side only returned home from Villarreal at 3:30am on Friday and were in training later the same day before travelling to Cardiff yesterday and making their way to Swansea earlier today. That's a lot of travelling in just a few days, but then that's also why only Lovren and Clyne are the only two starting today to have played the full 90 minutes on Thursday. What are your thoughts on 12pm kick-offs? Too early? Or do they get a good day of football started nicely? 

Jefferson Montero also starts for Swansea and is another potential key player. The Ecuadorian's lightning pace and his array of skills are a match for any defender, but inconsistency has prevented him from really making his mark in the top-flight despite a few standout performances. As such, he has just two assists this season. Is today going to be the day he scores his first goal of the campaign? 

Interesting that both Coutinho and Sturridge start ahead of Thursday's Europa League second-leg but otherwise the home team will be hopeful of getting at this Liverpool side. Swansea's key men will undoubtedly be Ayew and Sigurdsson, who have directly contributed to 21 of Swansea's 34 goals this season. Only Aston Villa and West Brom have scored less.

Martin Skrtel will be the 10th different Liverpool captain this season. He will skipper their youngest league starting XI of the campaign. That stat coming courtesy of Ged Rea, or @ged0407 on Twitter.

The away side have gone for as many as eight changes, with Coutinho recovering from illness to keep his place in the line-up. Clyne and Lovren are the only other two to be retained as Skrtel captains the side. You may notice Liverpool only have six substitutes. That's because youngster Connor Randall has been sent home ill with a sickness bug. Of a youthful side, Sturridge starts up front whilst Pedro Chirivella makes his league debut. 

Two changes for today's hosts, Amat and Montero come in for Fernandez and Fer, the latter of whom misses out through injury. No Paloschi, who is also injured. Otherwise, the Swans line up as expected.

Liverpool bench: Mignolet, Lucas, Brannagan, Teixeira, Lallana, Benteke.

Swansea City bench: Nordfeldt, Naughton, Fernandez, Ki, Fulton, Barrow, Gomis.

Liverpool XI: Ward; Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Smith; Stewart, Chirivella, Ibe, Ojo, Coutinho; Sturridge.

Swansea City XI: Fabianski; Rangel, Amat, Williams, Taylor; Britton, Cork; Sigurdsson, Routledge, Montero; Ayew.

The team news is out...

Interestingly, Swansea City have won only one of their nine Barclays Premier League meetings with Liverpool (W1 D3 L5), losing the last four in a row. Does that mean they're due a win today? Or is their miserable streak set to continue? Send us your predictions to our Twitter account @VAVEL.

Back to today's game, however, where both sides will be looking to bounce back from their respective setbacks last week as they look to end the season strongly towards summers where they hope to improve their stability and consistency. For the away side, Klopp has been in charge little over six months and will therefore relish the opportunity to bring in his own players and mould a Liverpool side in his own image, whilst Swansea could revert to a man who has already experienced success at the Liberty. That man, of course, is one more than familiar to Reds' supporters - Brendan Rodgers - who was in charge when Swansea were promoted to the top-flight in 2011-12. He was at the helm at Anfield until October, when he was sacked in favour of Klopp after a disappointing 18 months followed the 2013-14 season in which they came agonisingly close to a first league title in what was then 24 years and is now 26. How Klopp would love to end that wait in the next few seasons. 

Round-up: You'd have to live under a rock to have missed all of yesterday's football, but for a quick catch-up... North East rivals Sunderland and Newcastle United both grabbed huge results in their bids to stave off relegation. Sunderland grabbed a 94th minute equaliser away at Stoke City to remain just a point behind the Magpies, who beat Crystal Palace 1-0 on home soil as Karl Darlow saved former Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye's penalty and helped his side lift themselves out of the bottom three. Elsewhere, Everton edged closer to the top-half of the table with a 2-1 home win over Bournemouth as West Ham United thrashed West Bromwich Albion 3-0 away from home with Mark Noble grabbing a brace. Watford required the late heroics of Troy Deeney, scoring twice in stoppage-time to reverse a 2-1 deficit to Aston Villa and win 3-2 - their 11th consecutive loss - whilst Norwich City's hopes of survival were damaged by Arsenal's 1-0 win on Arsene Wenger's 750th Premier League match in charge of the Gunners. 

Liverpool are unbeaten in eight league and cup games against Swansea (W6, D2), winning the last five. James Milner's penalty was the only thing separating the two teams in their last meeting back in November, but the midfielder isn't expected to feature today after playing the full 90 minutes in Europe just a few days ago.

A home victory is far from assured, though. Liverpool have scored 17 goals in their last six Premier League away games and though they're expected to field a weakened side by all accounts, they will still field some more-than-capable players - with Daniel Sturridge potentially leading the line. He has scored in six of his last seven league appearances, including each of the last four, and will be looking to prove that he warrants a starting spot against Villarreal this coming Thursday.

Did you know? Swansea could win four successive home games in the top flight for the first time since March 1982. Coincidentally, all five of their last five Premier League wins at the Liberty Stadium have all come via a 1-0 scoreline. They've also kept six clean sheets in their last nine home fixtures in the league. You can 10/1 with Bet365 on Swansea to win 1-0 today, just so you know. 

Liverpool have a few more injury problems to deal with by comparison, with the illness that forced Philippe Coutinho off at half-time of their 1-0 loss in Spain on Thursday night the latest issue in their ranks. Elsewhere, Emre Can (ankle ligaments), Jordan Henderson (knee ligaments), Divock Origi (knee ligaments) and Jordan Rossiter (hamstring) joining long-term absentees Danny Ings and Joe Gomez (both knee ligaments) out of action. As such, Jürgen Klopp is expected to ring the changes to his team with Ward, Brad Smith, Martin Skrtel, Connor Randall, Kevin Stewart, Sheyi Ojo and Christian Benteke just a few of his many options.

Today's hosts are without forward Alberto Paloschi and midfielder Leroy Fer, both of whom are out of contention due to hamstring injuries. Elsewhere, however, Francesco Guidolin has an otherwise fully fit squad to call upon. Jefferson Montero, Ki Sung-yueng and Bafetimbi Gomis are amongst those battling to return to the starting XI. 

This game could be fairly unpredictable then, with both sides showing two sides to their game. Particularly due to the fact that Jürgen Klopp and the visitors are expected to field a second-string starting eleven for their trip to South Wales. Back-up goalkeeper Danny Ward, a Welsh international, is amongst those expected to feature, whilst Daniel Sturridge could start having not played in their semi-final first-leg three days ago. Swansea haven't played in a week, so aren't too likely to rotate other than dealing with their injuries. 

Liverpool arrive into this one in similar inconsistency. Before last weekend, it seemed they were on their best run of form all season. 2-0 at half-time at home to Newcastle, the Reds were well on their way to winning a fifth consecutive match in all competitions for the first time in two years, but a disastrous second-half led to a 2-2 draw and leaves them with relatively little to play for in the league. However, they'll be hoping to bounce back positively after Thursday's Europa League semi-final first-leg against Villarreal saw them concede a 92nd minute goal to leave Liverpool needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the second-leg at Anfield.

Though they're sat 15th, Swansea are just one point behind 11th-placed Everton - although their minus goal difference could affect their standing in the table come the final day. They come into this one in poor form, losing to Leicester last time out in a 4-0 rout. That followed a disappointing 3-0 loss to strugglers Newcastle United, which also came on the road. Their last home game you ask? A 1-0 win over Chelsea. Swansea are no mugs despite their last two results, then.

We're almost at the end of what has been an eventful 2015-16 Premier League campaign, with Leicester City's remarkable season undoubtedly the stand-out story. They could win the league today in fact, if they beat Manchester United at Old Trafford at 2:05pm. This fixture doesn't have quite as much riding on it, but there's still plenty to play for - with the two sides sat 15th and 7th in the table respectively.

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to VAVEL UK's live coverage of tonight's Barclays Premier League matchday 35 clash between Swansea City and Liverpool. This evening’s game kicks off at 12:00 GMT, but until then - we'll have plenty of pre-match build-up and analysis. Stay right here for more.  

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