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Back from the brink – Fernando Llorente rises above the pressure

4:10 PM GMT+4 06/03/2017
Fernando Llorente Swansea Burnley Premier League 04032017
Goal and Sure have partnered to create the Pressure Index, the only way to measure how players are handling the stress of the most competitive league

Swansea City were on their way down.

Manager Bob Bradley had lasted last just 85 days, his short tenure brining seven defeats in 11 games. 

They were conceding 2.64 goals per game and sat second-bottom of the Premier League, above Hull City only on a goal difference that was getting worse with every match.

And their potential talisman, Fernando Llorente, was supposed to be on his way out of the door, all set to leap through the January transfer window.

Life in the Premier League hadn’t started well for the World Cup-winner. He’d managed just one goal in nine outings prior to a stunning double in a remarkable 5-4 victory over Crystal Palace at the end of November, Swansea’s first win since the beginning of the season.

Swansea were on the brink. They needed a hero. The pressure was on.

And Llorente has delivered. This past weekend the Spain international hit his fourth brace of the season to score an impressive 95/100 on the Goal Pressure Index, presented by Sure and powered by Opta data, which provides the first ever system to measure and rate a team and player’s performance under pressure.

The Goal Pressure Index uses more than 750,000 data points as well as factors including league position, point in the season and the opposition to calculate a rating out of 100 for every Premier League player every week.

The former Juventus man took just 12 minutes to open the scoring against Burnley on Saturday, rising high in trademark fashion to head home Leroy Fer’s whipped cross.

After finding the net against Chelsea the previous week, Llorente had scored in consecutive league games for the first time since November 2015 during his spell with Sevilla in Spain.

The Swans were on their way. Burnley had the worst away record in the Premier League, with just two of their 31 points arriving on the road.

But then disaster struck, as the Clarets were handed a bizarre penalty just eight minutes later. Burnley striker Sam Vokes leapt in the Swansea box only to swat the ball away with his hand. Strangely, a penalty was awarded against Swansea.

Andre Gray converted and, 10 minutes after the break, he hit his second to give the visitors a rare lead away from home.

Martin Olsson swept home an equaliser with 20 minutes remaining but as the game ticked into stoppage time, Swansea and Llorente appeared to be heading for a disappointing draw.

But Llorente wasn’t finished yet. In the third minute of stoppage time he was at it again, towering above Alfie Mawson to head home Tom Carroll’s deep cross.

“Fernando will get a lot of credit and I am not sure another striker is going to get on the end of those crosses,” said manager Paul Clement of Llorente’s fifth headed goal of the season.

The vital three points saw the once-doomed Swans soar five points clear of the drop zone. They’ve now registered five wins in their eight league games under Paul Clement, as many as in their previous 24, and Llorente has been personally responsible for two of those.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, last week’s Pressure Index highest-scorer Harry Kane impressed again with two goals in a 3-2 win over Everton that earned him a score of 92.

Overall leader David Silva scored a respectable 86 as he helped Manchester City to victory at Sunderland, while Riyad Mahrez grabbed a season best 92 after hitting a vital goal in Leicester City’s vital win over Hull.

The Goal Pressure Index is presented by Sure, Official Partner of Chelsea FC, Everton FC and Southampton FC. Join the conversation on Twitter @Sure.