It was party time at the Liberty, Swansea fans celebrating a memorable and unexpectedly successful first season in the Premier League by dressing as Elvis Presley. Victory over Liverpool, with a late strike from Danny Graham, was the ideal way to sign off.
Unexpectedly successful? The fancy dress parade was prompted by the manager, Brendan Rodgers, who had gone public with the recollection that one local critic suggested last summer that Elvis was more likely to put in an appearance than Swansea were to avoid relegation.
As it has turned out, all the disappointment has been elsewhere and notably at Liverpool. The league table does not lie, and that other “King”, Kenny Dalglish, has presided over a team as ordinary as their finishing position would suggest. It is a damning statistic that they won just four of their last 15 league matches.
Swansea were the better, more cohesive unit, and Gylfi Sigurdsson twice threatened to give them the lead, Doni producing a top notch save, low to his right, to repel the second attempt. The reserve goalkeeper, deputising for José Reina, further distinguished himself in using his legs to keep out a goalbound shot from Nathan Dyer. Neil Taylor also tested him
Presumably, the end of season factor was behind Mark Halsey’s decision not to send off Andy Carroll in added time at the end of the first half after a scuffle which saw the Liverpool striker grab Ashley Williams by the throat. The referee opted to book both players.
Reprieved, Carroll produced the highlight of the match with an overhead kick, executed with his back to goal, which brought an equally stunning response from Michel Vorm. The Dutch goalkeeper, newly elected as Swansea’s player of the year, took off and flew high to his right with startling agility to turn the ball behind.
Stewart Downing’s dire season – no goals, no assists in 36 Premier League appearances – was brought to an end after an hour, when he gave way to Craig Bellamy, and another substitution gave Dirk Kuyt what is expected to be his last appearance for Liverpool. The Dutchman plans to move on, probably back home to the Netherlands. Kuyt announced himself with a low centre from the right which deserved a better fate than Carroll’s weak shot, straight at Vorm.
Graham showed him how such things should be done, driving home the winner from near the penalty spot after 86 minutes, from a cross supplied by Angel Rangel.