Mario Balotelli comes off bench to rescue Liverpool in League Cup

Anfield erupts as late strike from Dejan Lovren breaks Swansea hearts

Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli after scoring his side’s equaliser to make it 1-1 during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match at Anfield, Liverpool. Photograph: PA

Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli after scoring his side’s equaliser to make it 1-1 during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match at Anfield, Liverpool. Photograph: PA

 

Centre of attention as usual, only this time it was for the right reasons for Mario Balotelli and Liverpool. The maligned striker helped turn the tie against Swansea City from torment to triumph for Brendan Rodgers’ team as Garry Monk’s men self-destructed at Anfield.

There were four minutes remaining and Liverpool were heading for a damaging fourth-round exit, their second to Rodgers’ former club in two years, when Balotelli met Fabio Borini’s exquisite cross with a close-range volley to equalise Marvin Emnes’ impressive opener. It was only the striker’s second goal in Liverpool colours.

The joy that spread around Anfield was enough propel the home side over the line with Dejan Lovren heading home a dramatic winner in injury time.

Liverpool started brightly. Whereas Swansea were sluggish, careless in possession and only threatening whenever Liverpool stand-in goalkeeper Brad Jones attempted to clear the ball, the home side commanded the majority of the first half. Not that Gerhard Tremmel was over-worked in the Swansea goal, however.

Counter-attack

Philippe CoutinhoLazar Markovic

Swansea triumphed at Anfield in the same stage of the competition en route to winning the trophy two years ago and evidently sensed a repeat as Liverpool’s performance deteriorated at the start of the second half.A rare incisive move delivered the breakthrough in the 66th minute. Left-back Neil Taylor lofted the ball into the penalty area for Emnes to sweep a fine left-footed volley beyond Brad Jones and into the far corner.

Rodgers introduced Adam Lallana and Balotelli and was repaid in stunning style.

From one-nil up and comfortable, Swansea fell victim to Balotelli and soon found themselves down to 10 men when Federico Fernandez was dismissed for a dangerous tackle on Coutinho. The 10 men never made it to extra time to exert themselves.

In stoppage time, with Swansea defenders and goalkeeper Tremmel flapping at a Coutinho free-kick, Lovren rose to head home the winner unopposed.

His first goal in a competitive game for Liverpool brought respite for Rodgers when a third Anfield game without a goal beckoned only seconds earlier. Guardian Service

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