Swansea coast past Romanian side Petrolul Ploiesti
Late consolation unlikely to be of much use to visitors after five-star home performance
Swansea City’s Ajejandro Pozuelo scores the fifth at the Liberty Stadium. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Swansea City 5 Petrolul Ploiesti 1: Swansea all but sealed their place in the group stages of the Europa League as they destroyed Petrolul Ploiesti 5-1 in the first leg of their play-off tie at the Liberty Stadium.
As with their first meeting with Malmo in the previous round, Swansea simply overwhelmed their opponents as they romped to a convincing victory.
Wayne Routledge grabbed a first-half double with Michu also on the scoresheet to give Michael Laudrup’s side a 3-0 half-time lead.
An own goal from Petrolul goalkeeper Pecanha and a classy finish from Alejandro Pozuelo increased their advantage, before Gheorghe Grozav got a late consolation for the visitors.
The tie was effectively decided inside 25 minutes as the Romanian cup holders floundered.
There was a hint of luck about Routledge’s opener. A Jonjo Shelvey free-kick ran all the way through to the winger but Pecanha looked to have his shot covered until Ovidiu Hoban stuck out a leg to guide it in.
Michu quickly tapped in a second when Pecanha could not hold a Pablo Hernandez shot, before the latter delightfully teed up Routledge for a simple far-post header.
Pecanha then inadvertently provided the fourth as he diverted Wilfried Bony’s shot over the line after the Ivory Coast striker’s effort squirmed under him, before Pozuelo raced on to a Michu pass to finish in style.
But Petrolul had the last word as Grazov, whose goal had seen off Vitesse Arnhem in the last round, produced a stunning overhead kick to beat Michel Vorm.
Laudrup had admitted he had not heard of a single Petrolul player until the sides were thrown together by the draw, and had warned his side of the dangers of underestimating their opponents.
But, after an initially combative start from the visitors, Swansea took control with three goals in 11 first-half minutes.
The Romanians had already been fortunate to emerge unscathed when a simple exchange of passes between Routledge and Hernandez unlocked the right side of their defence, and it took a headed clearance from Alexandru Benga to deny Michu a simple finish.
But there was no such reprive in the 14th minute as Routledge gave the hosts the lead, via a deflection, from Shelvey’s intelligent quick set-piece.
The goal rocked Petrolul, who suddenly found themselves struggling to get out of their own half as well being berated by manager Cosmin Contra from the touchline, and it came as no surprise when the lead doubled.
Shelvey found Hernandez, and Michu was inevitably on hand when Pecanha could only parry the winger’s sliding effort.
Michu then robbed Hoban in midfield to lay the platform for the third Swansea goal, Hernandez having the vision to set up Routledge.
Hoban let his annoyance at playing a part in his side’s downfall show with two ambitious and wildly off-target shots in quick succession.
Routledge should have had his hat-trick five minutes before the break, only to be denied by the crossbar after being played in by Michu.
Bony then fired wide with the goal at his mercy from Hernandez’s pull-back, and was frustrated again 90 seconds into the second half as Pecanha deflected his shot onto the underside of the bar after he had held off two defenders.
The Ivorian thought he had got the goal his performance merited just before the hour.
His shot from Michu’s pass was half-saved by Pecanha and rolled over the line, but the keeper’s extra touch as the ball escaped his grasp proved decisive.
Pozuelo made it 5-0 with a lovely lofted finish after some fine intricate passing to leave Swansea already planning for life in the group stages, before Grozav grabbed a consolation goal with an acrobatic finish in the final moments.