Llorente’s the hero in nine-goal thriller
Palace denied by Spaniard’s late double
SWANSEA CITY 5
(Sigurdsson 36, Fer 66, 68, Llorente 90, 90)
CRYSTAL PALACE 4
(Zaha 19, Tomkins 75, Cork og 82, Benteke 84)
Substitute Fernando Llorente scored twice in injury time to hand Swansea a sensational victory over Crystal Palace and pile the pressure on under-fire Eagles manager Alan Pardew.
Palace – who had earlier led through Wilfried Zaha’s 19th-minute goal – were 3-1 down when James Tomkins (75), a Jack Cork own goal (82) and Christian Benteke (84) turned the game on its head.
But Swansea, who had seen Leroy Fer add a second-half double to Gylfi Sigurdsson’s superb free-kick, claimed a first League win since the opening day of the season when Llorente twice finished from close range.
It was Palace’s sixth straight defeat – and surely the cruellest in that stretch.
Swansea set themselves up like an away team with Sigurdsson operating as a false nine and keen to utilise the pace of Modou Barrow on the break.
The result was early Palace possession and pressure with Christian Benteke wasting an opening after some pinball in the Swansea box.
Barrow burst away from Martin Kelly to set up a chance which Sigurdsson scuffed straight at the grateful Wayne Hennessey.
But Palace were ahead after 19 minutes and it was entirely predictable as Swansea’s aerial struggles were exposed against Benteke.
The Belgian nodded the ball down into the path of Zaha and the wing- er made the most of some timid defending from Neil Taylor and Federico Fernandez to fire his fourth goal of the season past Lukasz Fabianski.
Swansea’s shortcomings at the back were again underlined when Fabianski was forced into a save after Kelly’s cross found Connor Wickham unmarked. But the mood changed when Jason Puncheon fouled Cork on the edge of the area.
Palace were clearly not happy with the decision and took an age to get their wall back 10 yards, but when they did Sigurdsson struck a terrific free-kick which left Hennessey rooted to the spot. It was a life-line for Swansea as they had rarely threatened up until that point, but they almost threw it away when Zaha headed Yohan Cabaye’s cross against the bar. Palace lost Wickham after the break – the forward taken from the field on a stretcher with an injury.
James Tomkins produced a brilliant last-ditch tackle to deny Barrow after Jay Fulton had split the defence but Swansea were soon ahead with sub Llorente’s first touch proving crucial.
Llorente headed goalwards and, although Cabaye stopped the ball on the line with the possible use of an arm, Fer squeezed home the rebound. Two minutes later Palace struggled to cope with another setpiece and Fer finished again at the far post for his sixth goal of the season.
But Palace gave themselves a lifeline when Tomkins bundled home before Zaha’s cross struck Cork and looped over Fabianski.
Palace were incredibly in front when Benteke found the net off the post in a crowded goalmouth.
But Swansea were not finished yet and Llorente – dropped at Everton last week – diverted home a Sigurdsson shot before prodding in the winnerline.