After a draining 1-0 defeat against Villarreal at Estadio El Madrigal in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final on Thursday night - the squad only returning to John Lennon airport after 3am the following morning - Jurgen Klopp made eight changes to his starting XI.
The decision was two-fold. Klopp was keen to keep his side fresh and give fringe players a chance to showcase their qualities. But with the reverse leg against the Liga side at Anfield in four days, the Reds were distracted at best against Swansea, and disinterested at worst.
The first 45 minutes were careless with the Reds lacking any sort of control and chemistry. The hosts sensed a real opportunity to collect maximum points and set about ruffling their already disjointed opposition.
Ahead of kick off, Leon Britton explained that it was difficult for his team-mates to plan for the game as they expected several changes from Liverpool. They couldn’t focus on shape as intently as they usually do, but it was inconsequential. The visitors did not have any semblance of form, and Swansea had to do little to unsettle a team that just never got going.
Andre Ayew’s header from a corner on 20 minutes was followed by a stunning Jack Cork curler 13 minutes later, and Klopp’s men deservedly headed into the interval 2-0 down. They were overrun in midfield where the young pair of Pedro Chirivella, 18, and 22-year-old Kevin Stewart struggled to assert any kind of authority.
They were shambolic at the back, where the partnership of Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel returned nightmares of old. They were criminal in possession, and not near as compact out of it.
Only Danny Ward could’ve felt slightly unfortunate about the scoreline, producing a series of saves that reduced the embarrassment for Liverpool.
Lucas and Christian Benteke were introduced in the second half to add some experience as the club’s youngest-ever Premier League line-up was well out of their depth.
The Belgian pulled one back on 65 minutes, heading in Sheyi Ojo’s corner, but Liverpool reverted to their shambolic defending in no time - the Brazilian also culpable - allowing Ayew to record his second of the afternoon.
Brad Smith’s sending off after a second yellow capped off a terrible Sunday for the travelling team. Their performance was laughable, so much so that even Klopp couldn’t help but chuckle at their inability to get the basics correct.
The Reds are without four key players, and as they navigate the final stages of the Europa League as well as the end of the domestic campaign, it is starting to show.
The injured trio of Divock Origi, Jordan Henderson and Emre Can as well as the provisionally suspended Mamadou Sakho - under investigation by UEFA for an anti-doping violation - would have started both legs against Villarreal. That would’ve afforded Klopp stronger options against Swansea, but there will be no excuses from the German for a sorry display.
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Francesco Guidolin’s side were classy before kick off, handing over a wreath to Barry Devonside, whose son Christopher lost his life in the Hillsborough disaster aged just 18.
That tribute to the 96 victims of the tragedy as well as the campaigners, who finally got the truth and justice after the conclusion of the inquests into that dark April day in 1989, was followed by applause in the 27th minute of the match.
Swansea were just as classy on the pitch too, and as Daniel Sturridge trudged straight down the tunnel after the final whistle, it summed up just how miserable the visitors were.