Swansea eventually break down QPR
Ki and Routledge strike late for the homeside at the Liberty Stadium
Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski makes a save against Queens Park Rangers at Liberty Stadium. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Swansea City 2 QPR 0
The goals were a long time coming but Swansea eventually broke QPR’s spirited resistance after 78 minutes as Ki Sung-yueng and Wayne Routledge brought them a deserved victory to make up some of the ground lost when they could only draw at home to Crystal Palace at the weekend.
Rangers were competitive until the closing stages, with Robert Green and Richard Dunne outstanding, but they are left without an away point all season, and increasingly it seems that if they are to avoid relegation the results will have to come at Loftus Road.
The two teams arrived on the back of contrasting results at the weekend, when Swansea were disappointed to draw while Rangers were greatly encouraged by their victory over Leicester, which lifted them off the bottom of the table. Harry Redknapp, however, knows his charges need to improve their away form if they are to survive.
Both managers made changes. Garry Monk recalled the metronome they call Leon Britton in midfield in place of Jonjo Shelvey, who gifted Palace their equaliser on Saturday as well as spurning an open goal. Also “rested” was Àngel Rangel, whose right-back position went to Jazz Richards.
Redknapp reinstated Dunne in central defence, to the exclusion of Mauricio Isla, with Nedum Onuoha shuffling across to right-back to accommodate Dunne, whose physical strength was needed to combat the power game that has made Wilfried Bony the leading scorer in the league in the calendar year.
Onuoha is a centre-back by trade, and Swansea set out to test his positional awareness in unfamiliar territory through their left-winger, Jefferson Montero, who had the beating of his man on the outside. One of the Ecuadorian’s crosses culminated in a mishit shot from Gylfi Sigurdsson, which had Green scrambling to his right.
Green was also extended in keeping out the dangerous near-post header with which Kyle Bartley met Sigurdsson’s corner from the right, and again in repelling the Icelander’s well directed free-kick not long afterwards.
To their credit, both teams attempted to play a constructive passing game, but accuracy deserted them when it mattered most and for a long time it was a case of deja vu for Swansea and their supporters, whose frustration was a hangover from Saturday. QPR might even have burgled the lead before half-time, Leroy Fer meeting Niko Kranjcar’s cross six yards out with a header which Lukasz Fabianski did well to save.
Dunne fully vindicated his recall early in the second half when twice in the space of a minute he tackled Bony well inside the penalty area, preventing a near certain goal on each occasion.
As Swansea cranked up the pressure they appealed in vain for a penalty when Karl Henry brought down Britton on the edge of the area. The referee had it right, Henry making legitimate contact with the ball.
For the second time in four days, nothing was going right for the Welsh team. Typically, when Green dropped a cross Bony was too far away to profit. The Liberty crowd, usually so vocal with their hymns and arias, fell into a dismayed silence.
Their mood hardly improved when Bony, set up by Wayne Routledge’s centre from the right, fired his shot straight at Green. The Ivorian did rather better when Montero crossed from the opposite flank, but this time his shot brought an athletic response from Green.
Swansea pressed with mounting urgency, only for Green to deny Bony yet again, this time with a timely advance from his line.
Relief for Monk and company came late, but at the double. After 78 minutes Ki easily evaded Onuoha before shooting left footed across Green and in via the goalkeeper’s left-hand upright. Five minutes later Routledge doubled the margin, accepting the substitute Nathan Dyer’s centre and scoring from a central position 20 yards out, his shot nestling into Green’s right corner.