A lacklustre Swansea side cemented their place at the top of Group A with a nervy 1-0 win over St Gallen in the Europa League.
Wayne Routledge scored the game’s only goal after the visitors missed a first half penalty and went close several times.
In a drab affair the most memorable moments came from the home side's Spanish striker Michu, though not for his attempts on goal: Instead it was the sight of him changing his shirt a staggering five times thanks to the blood pouring from his head after a collision early on. Swansea's kit men even had to raid the club shop at half-time to print up extra shirts with the player's name and number.
The Swans, who have completed over 250 more passes than any other side in the Premier League this season, were incredibly sloppy in the first half, constantly surrendering possession and inviting their opponents to attack.
They should have gone behind after quarter of an hour as Dwight Tiendalli threw his arms up to block a ball entering his penalty area. Goran Karanovic’s penalty was a poor one, however, with his Balotelli-esque stuttering run backfiring as he chipped the ball into the arms of Gerhard Tremmel in the Swansea net.
Marco Mathys was then put clean through on goal with the Swansea defence at sixes and sevens, but the Swiss midfielder dragged his shot wide.
Jordi Amat had Swansea’s best chance of the first half but saw his close-range header tipped on to the post.
Routledge broke the deadlock less than ten minutes into the second half, turning home Wilfried Bony’s cross/shot from close range as his side moved closer to a place in the knockout stages.
4’ – CHANCE: Clever play from Bony. The Swansea front man receives the ball on the edge of the penalty area and drops a shoulder to lose his man before teeing up Michu. The Spaniard hits his first-time effort hard and low but Lopar is equal to it.
14’ – SAVED PENALTY: Tiendalli concedes the penalty, raising his arm as Rodriguez crosses. Karanovic's effort is horrendous, though. He tries a Balotelli-esque stuttering run-up but tamely rolls it to the right of the keeper - Tremmel reading it well.
18’ – CHANCE: Mathys’ clever run is spotted by Janjatovic and goes through on goal. Tremmel races off his line but can do nothing as Mathys rolls the ball beyond the keeper and narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
25’ – CHANCE: Davies’ dangerous free kick is met by Amat at the near post. His header looks to be nestling in at the far post but Lopar makes a great save, tipping it onto the post.
53’ – GOAL: Pozuelo receives a pass from Britton and travels 10 yards under no pressure. He spots the run of Bony in the penalty area and finds the Ivorian. With the angle getting narrower, Bony pulls the ball back across goal into the path of Routledge who taps home at the back post.
66’ – CHANCE: What an effort from Keita, and what a goal that would have been, too. Montandon clips a ball over the top into the path of Keita whose first touch is immaculate, flicking it over the head of Amat and leaving himself only the keeper to beat. The finish isn’t quite as good, though, as the lobbed effort lands on the roof of the net.
72’ – CHANCE: What an effort from Vazquez, who has been on the pitch a matter of seconds. He’s sent down the left and, with no teammates available, opts to go it alone. The Spaniard attempts to whip the ball into the far corner from the tightest of angles, missing by a matter of inches.
Michu, after suffering a clash to the head in the 27th minute and subsequently having to spend eight-and-a-half minutes on the sideline, was forced to change his shirt five times throughout the game. Surely a record...
The defeat ended St Gallen's 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
St Gallen failed to score for the first time in nine European games.
TALKING POINT: Can Swansea progress from their group? They were pretty poor this evening but still claimed a vital three points. Coach Michael Laudrup said before the start of the tournament that Swansea would progress with three victories. With two under their belt and two fixtures against minnows Kuban Krasnodar to come, the Swans will now be confident of making the knockout stages.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jonathan de Guzman, Swansea – In a game of many average performances, de Guzman deserves man of the match. Solid, without setting the world alight, the Dutchman worked tirelessly at both ends of the pitch – supporting his side in attack and displaying great defensive endeavour.
Swansea: Tremmel 7, Tiendalli 4, Chico Flores 6, Amat 6, Davies 6, Britton 6, De Guzman 8, Michu 7, Routledge 7, Pozuelo 6, Bony 7...SUBS: Shelvey 5, Dyer 7, Vazquez 6
St Gallen: Lopar 6, Montandon 6, Karanovic 7, Besle 5, Vitkieviez 5, Mutsch 6, Martic 6, Mathys 6, Lenjani 7, Janjatovic 6, Rodriguez 5...SUBS: Nater 6, Keita 6, Russo 5
MATCH IN A TWEET
#SWANS 1-0 ST GALLEN: Blood-spattered Michu changing his shirt five times the true highlight as Swansea ride luck
- Sports & Recreation
- Wayne Routledge
- Gerhard Tremmel