Cisse’s late equaliser dents Swansea’s ambitions
Laudrup’s side pay the penalty for a much-changed line-up
SWANSEA, WALES - OCTOBER 24: Swansea player Michu (c) beats Aleksei Kozlov (r) to the ball during the UEFA Europa League Group A match between Swansea City and FC Kuban Krasnodar at Liberty Stadium on October 24, 2013 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Swansea City 1 Kuban Krasnador 1: Michael Laudrup said Swansea would have one-and-a-half feet in the knockout stage of the Europa League if they were able to defeat Kuban Krasnodar last night but a 92nd-minute penalty from Djibril Cisse denied them a third consecutive win, though the Premier League side remain top of the group.
Michu’s sixth goal of another profitable season looked to have put them on their way but Cisse was fouled by Gerhard Tremmel in the second of the two additional minutes and he coolly converted the kick to the bottom left corner.
This was the second in a sequence of three home games the Swansea manager felt would go a long way towards defining his team’s season. The first was the restorative 4-0 victory over Sunderland last Saturday. West Ham are the next visitors on Sunday.
But Laudrup rested half his established first team, with only five remaining from the Sunderland game. Inevitably cohesion suffered from the six changes.
Kuban, 11th in their domestic league, had won just one of their previous nine matches, falling away so badly since beating Motherwell and Feyenoord en route to the group stage that they changed manager on 12th of October.
They began in promising fashion but Cisse volleyed wide in a style less than fondly remembered at Liverpool, Sunderland and QPR.
For Swansea, Nathan Dyer’s weak, low shot from the 18-yard line was easily saved and Jonjo Shelvey (twice) and Wilfried Bony spurned good chances.
The Russians were quick and dangerous on the break, and after Maksim Zhavnerchik had threatened with a dipping shot, Chico Flores cleared a right-wing cross from Arsen Khubulov over his own crossbar to deny Cisse. Another pacy counter-attack saw Dwight Tiendalli fortunate and happy to accept only a yellow card for flooring Lorenzo Melgarejo.
If the group leaders were expecting easy pickings from the back-markers, they were being uncomfortably disabused. As half-time approached Shelvey’s third goal attempt, a 25-yard free-kick, again failed to test Aleksandr Belenov, the Kuban .
Kuban had edged the first half and like the missing six players, their customary slick, incisive movement of the ball was conspicuous by its absence.
In search of the improvement needed if there was to be a breakthrough, Laudrup made a double substitution, in particular looking to Angel Rangel to open up the right flank.
At last Swansea gained the initiative and had their reward midway through the second half, when a sweeping passing move culminated in Alejandro Pozuelo lifting the ball deftly into the penalty area where Michu beat the keeper to it, scoring from eight yards.
It looked like thely had done enough but Kuban and Cisse had the final word in the dying seconds.
– Guardian Service