Swansea City were denied all three points in stoppage time for the second time in a fortnight as Kuban Krasnodar struck late to earn a 1-1 draw against the Swans in the Europa League clash at Kuban Stadium in Krasnodar.
Wilfried Bony’s strike after eight minutes in Russia put the Welsh club on easy street, with Michael Laudrup’s side seemingly set to take a giant step towards securing a place in the knockout phase of the tournament.
But substitute Ibrahima Balde finished superbly two minutes into injury time, delicately beating Michel Vorm to the ball and sneaking the ball into the corner of the net.
The Russians snatched a point from Swansea in Wales two weeks ago through a similar last-gasp goal from Djibril Cisse to get Viktor Goncharenko’s side off-and-running in Group A.
That leaves Swansea, who have eight points, needing to finish the job in their last two group matches against Valencia in South Wales and against St Gallen in Switzerland.
It took less than a minute for the Austrian referee to pull out a yellow card for Kuban’s captain Xandao for a deliberate handball. From the resulting foul, De Guzman’s free-kick was met perfectly by Dutchman Bony at the near-post, but Aleksandr Belenov made a fine save.
Within another 60 seconds, Viktor Goncharenko was cursing his side’s poor finishing when former Liverpool man Djibril Cisse passed up a one-on-one chance after Ashley Williams lost his footing on the slick turf.
Swansea weren’t impacted by the four-hour time difference from the United Kingdom and took a deserved lead after only eight minutes of action.
A fine solo-run from Roland Lamah, who picked some space between the lines, led to the Swansea attacker laying the ball back to Bony who bundled the ball into the net.
Former Anderlecht ace Lamah was involved again after 20 minutes; but his composure let him down,as he closed down on goal with just the keeper to beat.
Six minutes later, Nathan Dyer linked well with Bony and Alejandro Pozuelo, while cutting in from the right-wing, but his curling effort from 18 yards was parried wide by Belenov.
Viktor Goncharenko was hoping for Arsen Khubulov to use his raw acceleration to beat Swansea full-back Ben Davies, although, it was the Kuban attacker’s intelligence to drop inside that created a great chance for Ivelin Popov who blazed the ball wide.
But after the interval, Swansea City were lacking the same penetration in attack, despite keeping the ball comfortably in their own half of the pitch.
It was Kuban Krasnodar who were most dangerous on the attack and Cisse was wasteful in-front of goal for the Russian side.
After 54 minutes, the ex-Liverpool striker mis-kicked the ball from just a few yards out, kicking his own foot rather than equalising for Kuban. He then drifted offside, three minutes later, but did manage to find the net with his finish.
Kuban’s Brazilian skipper Xandao was a certainty to have an early bath after his ridiculous early booking, which led to a red card on 74 minutes. The defender ran out of the backline recklessly and clattered through Pozuelo in the middle of the park and deserved his second booking.
But the ten-man Russians rallied and levelled in the second minute of stoppage time through Ibrahima Balde to shatter Swansea’s hopes of European progression.
1 – CHANCE – Free-kick from Jonathan de Guzman is met by Swansea marksmen Bony who pulls out a terrific save from Belenov.
8 – SWANSEA GOAL – Bony scores his fifth Europa League goal of the season, pouncing inside the six-yard-box to convert Roland Lamah’s neat cut-back.
74 – RED CARD – Kuban captain Xandao makes a reckless challenge and is shown his second booking of the match, after picking up a yellow inside the first 25 seconds.
90+2 – KUBAN GOAL – Popov delightfully clips the ball over the Swansea defence, leaving Ibrahima Balde unmarked to squeeze home the equaliser.
Talking Point: Are Swansea City their own biggest enemy? Complacency is such a killer, especially in European football. Michael Laudrup’s side always start brightly, weaving their way into the penalty box, but lacking the conviction that is required at this level. Swansea took their eye of the ball two weeks ago, then tonight, allowing two very slack goals in each match against Kuban Krasnodar. Nobody would argue that Swansea are a very talented side – but mental steel will need to be installed for Laudrup’s men to advance in Europe.
Man of the Match: Alejandro Pozuelo (Swansea) – The 22-year-old was busy for the Welsh club, dropping into dangerous areas behind Wilfried Bony. His pace and awareness of space was ideal up against a Kuban midfield littered with spaces and gaps. Influential in counter attacks and just a general handful all night.
Kuban: Belenov 6, Xanado 4, Dealbert 5, Kozlov 6, Melgarejo 6, Bugaev 6, Tilsov 6, Kabore 7, Popov 6, Khubulov 6, Cisse 7, Fidler 5, Balde 5, Ignatyev 5
Swansea: Vorm 7, Arnat 6, Williams 7, Tiendalli 5, Davies 6, De Guzman 6, Canas 6, Pozuelo 8, Bony 7, Dyer 7, Lamah 7, Routledge 5, Vazquez 5, Rangel 5
- Sports & Recreation
- Swansea City
- Kuban Krasnodar
- Wilfried Bony
- Djibril Cisse
- Roland Lamah
- Viktor Goncharenko