All go for Jonjo in a thrilling draw
JONJO Shelvey left Liverpool for Swansea City in the summer because he did not get enough game-time in a red shirt.
On his first reunion with the Merseysiders last night, the midfielder was never out of the action.
Shelvey scored a goal after only 87 seconds, then presented Daniel Sturridge with a Liverpool equaliser.
Next he gave the ball away to allow Victor Moses to put Brendan Rodgers’s side in front.
Then, after a brush with the referee which might have seen his night end early, Shelvey claimed an assist as Michu earned Swansea a welcome point against the early-season Premier League leaders.
Shelvey’s extraordinary contribution was all part of a remarkable game.
At the end of it all, both Michael Laudrup and his predecessor went home relatively happy with a point.
Rodgers’s last game as Swansea manager was a win over Liverpool on this ground back in May 2012.
Some 16 months on, the Northern Irishman returned looking to maintain momentum after a fine start to his second season as the man in charge at Anfield.
While Liverpool’s record was impeccable coming into this one, Swansea had lifted morale heading into the international break by chalking up their first points of the campaign at West Brom.
Now the challenge was to build on the Hawthorns win against Rodgers’s in-form Liverpool side.
Valencia looms large on the horizon, but Laudrup has always maintained that the league takes priority and he duly sent out his big guns here.
Pablo Hernandez missed out with a minor hamstring injury, meaning an immediate return to the starting line-up for fit-again Nathan Dyer.
The only other Swansea change saw Leon Britton, who is suspended for the Valencia trip, taking over from Jose Canas at the base of midfield.
Britton started alongside Shelvey, the ex-Liverpool player who was as keen as anyone in white to inspire Swansea’s first home league win since Newcastle were seen off back on March 2.
Much of the focus in the build-up had been on Shelvey — and nothing changed once the game got under way.
Rodgers had barely finished saying hello to a few familiar faces in the home crowd when Shelvey made his first dramatic contribution of the night.
Dyer worked Angel Rangel in down the right, and his cross was only half-cleared by Andre Wisdom.
Shelvey’s attempted volley turned out to be a touch to control, and he advanced into the area before seeing a second attempt blocked by Martin Skrtel.
Shelvey reacted fastest again, and this time he curled home his first Swansea goal with his left foot.
The England man celebrated initially, then raised a hand of apology towards the travelling support behind Simon Mignolet’s goal.
Very quickly Shelvey would be saying sorry to his own team-mates.
The shock of the first goal Liverpool have conceded in the league this season did not last long.
All of 99 seconds later, in fact, Liverpool were level — thanks to Shelvey’s errant backpass.
Swansea’s £5 million summer recruit failed to notice Sturridge lurking in the penalty area, and the in-form frontman gobbled up his sixth goal of the season with minimal fuss.
Swansea tried to respond, Wilfried Bony forcing a fine save from Mignolet before Shelvey fired over from 25 yards.
But Liverpool were more assured on the ball for much of the first period, and their high-class frontline were giving Ashley Williams and Co plenty to think about.
Sturridge fired wide when he might have passed, Jordan Henderson saw a shot well blocked by Ben Davies.
Moses was a menace on debut, and his cross should have led to Liverpool’s second but Sturridge headed too close to Michel Vorm and the goalkeeper saved.
Bony was a big presence at the other end, the Ivorian stabbing one effort too close to Mignolet and then hooking a half-volley wide as the hosts came back into the game.
Just as Swansea seemed to be steadying the ship, however, Liverpool took advantage when another loose Shelvey pass presented Moses with possession on halfway.
The on-loan Chelsea winger strode forward and, when Swansea backed off, he drilled a low 20-yard shot into the bottom corner of Vorm’s net.
Michu threatened to cancel the lead out within seconds, but his fierce long-ranger was parried by Mignolet and Liverpool scrambled clear.
There was another big Swansea chance before the break, when Dyer’s half-volley was spilled by the Liverpool keeper.
Bony looked odds-on to score, but Martin Skrtel’s remarkable challenge saved the day for Rodgers’s men.
Swansea had to dig deep and come again — and their leveller came in the 64th minute of a frantic contest.
Liverpool had come close to a third goal early in the second period, Wisdom shooting too close to Vorm after Laudrup’s rearguard switched off at a set-piece.
Then there was a row over Swansea’s failure, initially, to return possession after Liverpool had played it out so one of their players could get treatment.
Lucas Leiva had a go at Shelvey, who appeared to slap his former team-mate in the face.
Fortunately for Swansea, referee Michael Oliver showed both players yellow cards when some referees might have flashed red in Shelvey’s direction.
Let off the hook on a couple of occasions, Swansea took advantage when a neat passing move ended with Michu’s first league goal of the new season.
Davies and Bony were involved in the build-up, then Britton chipped a pass into the box.
Shelvey, inevitably, was involved, flicking on for Michu to roll the ball home with his right foot and send the Liberty into raptures.
Liverpool had been the better side in the first half, but now Swansea were on top.
Shelvey remained a central figure, driving a 25-yard free-kick along the turf which Mignolet saved.
And it was Swansea who looked the more likely winners as the clock ticked down. Substitute Jonathan de Guzman came closest to finding a winner, rattling one shot a yard over the top and then forcing a spectacular save from Mignolet two minutes from the end.
A win would have been sensational. After a memorable game, Swansea could be pleased with the draw.