Andre Ayew scored twice as Swansea City eased past an inexperienced Liverpool side 3-1 to bring an end to their recent poor run against the Merseysiders.
The visitors – who had won their last four in a row against Swansea – arrived in south Wales upset about the scheduling of the clash given they played their Europa League semi-final, first leg in Villarreal on Thursday, and looked sluggish despite a raft of changes from Jurgen Klopp.
Swansea dominated the opening half with Ayew and Jack Cork profiting from sloppy Liverpool defending.
Ayew ended a goal drought that stretched back to late January as he netted the opener, before Cork scored for the first time in over a year with a well-placed finish.
Substitute Christian Benteke gave Liverpool hope after replacing Philippe Coutinho with a neat header, but Ayew took himself into double figures for the season to restore Swansea’s two-goal cushion and move them into the safety of mid-table.
Brad Smith’s late sending off completed a miserable day for Klopp as their hopes of a top-six finish were dented, placing more emphasis on their Anfield return against Villarreal on Thursday.
With that European clash in mind, Klopp named Liverpool’s youngest starting line-up in the Premier League, their midfield – which included Pedro Chirivella for his first league appearance – showing an average age of under 20.
Klopp’s youthful quartet took time to settle as Swansea – who welcomed back Jefferson Montero – started brightly; Ayew wasting two half-chances in the opening stages.
He was not to be denied after 20 minutes, though, the striker evading the attention of Dejan Lovren to head home Gylfi Sigurdsson’s left-wing corner.
Buoyed by the opening goal Swansea continued to threaten and, after wasting a glorious chance, Cork doubled their advantage with a curling effort that evaded the dive of Daniel Ward.
Daniel Sturridge went agonisingly close to halving Liverpool’s deficit before the break, but the forward’s deft chip drifted just wide of Lukasz Fabianski’s goal.
Klopp introduced Lucas Leiva and Benteke at the break and the latter gave Liverpool a lifeline just after the hour, the Belgium international nodding home his 50th Premier League goal from six yards.
Any hope of a comeback was quickly dashed, though, as more terrible defending gifted Ayew his second, the Ghana international pouncing as Liverpool failed to clear.
And a disappointing trip for the visitors ended with Smith’s red card in only his second league start, the young defender shown a second yellow for a challenge on Kyle Naughton with 14 minutes to play.
Key Opta stats:
– Swansea City enjoyed their fourth home league win in a row, their best-ever run of home Premier League victories.
– Liverpool’s starting lineup average age against Swansea City was 23 years and 218 days
– their youngest ever in the Premier League.
– Andre Ayew bagged his first brace for Swansea in any competition.
– Liverpool have now conceded 10 goals from corners in the Premier League this season, only Swansea have conceded more (14).
– Swansea bagged 3+ goals in a Premier League game for the first time since 25/04/2015, the last time Jack Cork scored.