Red-hot Sturridge keeps Liverpool title bid alive
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (2nd R) scores his second goal against Swansea during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England, February 23, 2014. Photo by Darren Staples, Reuters.
LONDON - England striker Daniel Sturridge scored for the eighth consecutive Premier League match to keep Liverpool right in the thick of the title race with a thrilling 4-3 home win over Swansea City on Sunday.
Fourth-placed Liverpool are four points behind leaders Chelsea and six points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur who are fifth after suffering a surprise 1-0 defeat at struggling Norwich City.
Robert Snodgrass eased the pressure on manager Chris Hughton with a second-half goal, hurting Tottenham's bid to qualify for next season's Champions League in the process.
In the day's other game, Newcastle United ended a three-match losing streak when Loic Remy's stoppage-time effort sealed a 1-0 home win over Aston Villa.
Sturridge, who matched former Manchester United forward Ruud van Nistelrooy's feat of scoring in eight straight Premier League matches, netted in the third minute at Anfield.
Jordan Henderson quickly made it 2-0 before Liverpool old boy Jonjo Shelvey and Wilfried Bony drew Swansea level by the 27th minute.
Sturridge was on target again before the break, only for Bony to equalise once more from the penalty spot.
Henderson clinched the points for Liverpool 16 minutes from time, giving his side 56 points with 11 matches to go.
Arsenal occupy second spot, one point behind Chelsea. Manchester City are a further two points back in third place and have a game in hand.
"A wonderful victory for us. Swansea played really well especially when we were 2-0 up to come back into the game," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told Sky Sports television.
"An outstanding result for us that again typified the character of this team."
Liverpool opened their account when Raheem Sterling took advantage of an Angel Rangel error to send an inch-perfect pass to Sturridge and he skipped past keeper Michel Vorm to score.
After a period of Swansea dominance Liverpool doubled their advantage through Henderson who curled a delightful shot into the top corner.
Rodgers's team may have been expected to push on but 12th-placed Swansea are a tougher nut to crack under new manager Garry Monk and they hit back through Shelvey with a well-taken shot from the edge of the box.
The visitors were level after 27 minutes when Ivorian Bony glanced home a free kick, via Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel, before the hosts regained the lead with Sturridge's 16th league goal of the season having been set up by strike partner Luis Suarez.
Swansea were level soon after the restart, Bony grabbing his second from the penalty spot after being pushed by Skrtel.
Suarez, who has not scored in his last four league matches, was unable to find the target after a sublime ball from captain Steven Gerrard but Henderson netted on the rebound to keep Liverpool on course for a first Champions League appearance since 2009-10.
Tottenham, who had to travel to Ukraine for a Europa League fixture on Thursday, looked sluggish in the first half and were thankful Norwich lacked a cutting edge up front with Sebastien Bassong and Ricky van Wolfswinkel spurning decent opportunities.
Snodgrass capitalised on the next decent chance however, latching on to a slide-rule pass by Johnson soon after the restart and calmly beating keeper Hugo Lloris.
Emmanuel Adebayor had two good opportunities to draw Spurs level but was let down by a heavy touch that allowed keeper John Ruddy to clear the danger.
The Spurs striker also turned provider on 65 minutes for Roberto Soldado but he hit the side-netting.
Spaniard Soldado also went wide with a header while Ruddy was again to the fore with 10 minutes remaining, keeping out a close-range effort from Nacer Chadli.
Snodgrass then crashed a long-range free kick against the crossbar. But Norwich still claimed victory to earn some respite for Spurs old boy Hughton at the end of a week when a high-ranking club official said his job would be under threat if they slipped into the bottom three.
The win lifted Norwich to 14th place, four points above the drop zone.
"I certainly felt we deserved it," said Hughton. "We had other opportunities and probably could have taken a little pressure off ourselves which has probably been a little bit the story of our season.
"What I'm delighted about mostly is that we kept up the level of our performance."
Newcastle, who had not scored in four games, appeared to be on their way to another disappointing result before Remy, returning after a three-match suspension, struck with moments remaining at St James' Park.
Having hit the base of the post after 88 minutes, the on-loan Frenchman made no mistake when the ball fell to him in the box, giving Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan no chance with Newcastle's first home goal since late December.
"It was beginning to hang over us, that lack of a goal," Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said. "Our commitment and work-rate are what probably saw us over the line."
Newcastle are eighth with 40 points, one ahead of Southampton.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)