Liverpool ended their topsy-turvy 2014 on a high after two goals from Adam Lallana, one excellent and one freakish, helped inspire their 4-1 trouncing of Swansea on Monday in the last Premier League game of the year.
Brendan Rodgers, whose side came so close to winning the title in May but have laboured so often since, could afford a festive smile after his side’s biggest home win of the season which at last reprised some of the best of the goal-hungry, early-2014 Liverpool.
Alberto Moreno both started and finished off an excellent team move to score after 33 minutes before Lallana was gifted one of the strangest goals of the season after 51 minutes.
Swansea keeper Lukasz Fabianski took an age to make a clearance, then struck the ball straight at the England midfielder only for the ball to thump into Lallana and balloon into the empty net.
Within a minute Swansea responded through a close-range Gylfi Sigurdsson strike but Liverpool soon took complete command, Lallana scoring an authentically excellent third in the 61st minute, ghosting past two defenders and firing home after being freed by a delightful flick from Philippe Coutinho.
When Jonjo Shelvey netted a 69th minute own goal, flicking a header past his own keeper from Jordan Henderson’s corner, it completed a miserable night for the former Liverpool man.
In the first half, Shelvey could have been sent off after he lashed out with his arm and struck Emre Can in the face right in front of referee Andre Marriner, who ignored it.
Raheem Sterling also could have been in hot water late in the game after a retaliatory half-push, half-slap into the face of Federico Fernandez but Rodgers felt neither Shelvey nor Sterling deserved punishment for heat of the moment antics.
The victory, only Liverpool’s third in their last nine Premier League games at Anfield, pushed them into eighth place on 28 points, jumping above Swansea on goals scored and just five points off the top four.
Lallana felt that Liverpool had turned a corner here after all their struggles — a feeling Rodgers seemed to echo.
“It’s something we’ve been searching for all season,” said Rodgers, of the combination between Lallana, Coutinho and Sterling.
“There’s a lot of work to do but there’s a real exciting second half of the season for us.”