By Arun Nair
Brendan Rodgers welcomed his former employers to Anfield last night, but could only watch while his second-string side gave a nightmare performance. Goals from Chico, Nathan Dyer and Jonathan De Guzman, despite Luis Suarez briefly inspiring some hope for the Reds, sent Liverpool crashing out as the Welsh side advanced to the quarter finals for the first time in their history.
Rodgers made 9 changes from the side that drew with Everton at the weekend, and it showed as they failed to assert any real dominance against a Swansea side with just 4 changes. The Welsh side were much more potent in their attacking play, De Guzman and Leon Britton pulling the strings with Michu and Pablo Hernandez threatening.
Stewart Downing tested Gerhard Tremmel from distance but that was as good as it got for the Reds in the first period. Swansea were zipping the ball around with consummate ease, producing the kind of invention and creativity that Rodgers would have hoped to see from his Liverpool side when he swapped white for red in the summer.
For all their passing play, it was ironic when, from the resulting corner, Swans defender Chico rose above Sebastian Coates and bulleted a header past Jones. The Spaniard celebrated his first Swansea goal while the away fans sang “Brendan, what’s the score?”
Jamie Carragher denied Michu with a desperate block, while De Guzman should have done better when sent through by a sublime flick by Michu. Swansea looked good value for their lead, but despite their dominance, the Reds should have headed into the break level, but the thus far anonymous Joe Cole sent his free header into the midriff of Tremmell from 8 yards.
Steven Gerrard and Suarez were sent on at half time and instantly raised the tempo and spirits at Anfield. The Reds skipper struck a post with a drive form range but Stewart Downing could only turn the rebound wide.
However, Swansea continued to threaten on the counter. Jones rescued his side with successive blocks from Michu and Hernandez, before tipping a shot from the latter over.
As Liverpool pushed forward, searching for an equaliser, Swansea struck a second. Michu sent Hernandez clear on the left and the Spanish winger squared for Nathan Dyer to fire past Jones.
Suarez reduced the arrears within 4 minutes, heading in Gerrard’s free kick, and Liverpool briefly threatened to equalise. The Uruguayan was denied by Tremmel after dancing past Ashley Williams while Raheem Sterling also tested the German keeper.
But the Reds were dealt a fatal blow late on. Sub Wayne Routledge found Michu with a clever lofted ball on the counter, and his pass was turned in by De Guzman, consigning Rodgers’ Reds to a Capital One Cup exit.