Swansea’s recovery continues with win at poor Everton
Seamus Coleman misses sitter at the death as Francesco Guidolin gets first Swans victory
André Ayew scored Swansea City’s winner against Everton at Goodison Park. Photogrpah: Getty
Everton 1 Swansea City 2
Francesco Guidolin said an away win would be the ideal way to start his career at Swansea and the Italian head coach was as good as his word. He did not have Swansea playing in any weird formations, nor did he discover the centre-forward they have been looking for all season, though he was able to take advantage of some sloppy Everton defending.
If Guidolin imagines points in England are easy to come by after this composed but hardly exceptional Swansea display he will soon discover that most opponents will not be as accommodating.
Everton began confidently enough. Muhamed Besic struck a post after three minutes after breaking forward and trying his luck from just outside the area, then an audacious piece of close control by Ross Barkley on the right touchline confounded Ki Sung-yeung and earned a ripple of applause from the home fans. Besic only lasted five more minutes before pulling up with a calf injury and in his absence the Everton tempo dropped and Swansea began to come into the game.
Even so it was a surprise when they took an early lead through some unforgivably dozy home defending. Concentration possibly affected by the sheer number of leading clubs apparently queuing up for his services, John Stones slightly undersold Tom Howard with a backpass along the goalline and the goalkeeper was fractionally slow in coming out to meet the ball.
None of which might have mattered all that much had not André Ayew spotted the danger quicker than the Everton pair and inserted himself between them, so that when Howard finally swung his boot to clear the ball he connected with the Swansea player instead. Everton could have no complaints about the penalty, calmly put away by Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Now struggling to get the ball forward and occasionally hearing groans from their own fans for passing it backwards, Everton needed a set piece to get back into the games. A nondescript Gerard Deulofeu corner just before the half hour was turned into an attempt on target by a volleyed-flick from Gareth Barry. The Everton captain could not have had much idea where the ball would end up but fortunately for him neither did any of the Swansea defenders. Jack Cork possibly got the last touch as the ball crossed the goal at an angle and then crossed the line after hitting the foot of Lukasz Fabianski’s right hand post.
If Goodison imagined Everton would now take charge it was in for a disappointment. Ayew continued to be the most mobile and threatening player on the pitch and he was rewarded with a goal before the interval. Everton were too busy appealing for a handball by Ashley Williams to prevent Neil Taylor breaking down the left, allowing their concentration to be disrupted by waiting for a decision that never came.
It did appear Williams had a case to answer but the home side’s second schoolboy error of the match was not playing to the whistle. Ayew pointed to where he wanted the ball played then hit a first-time shot on the turn when it arrived, Stones completed a below-par first half by arriving just too late to block the effort but succeed in diverting it past Howard.
Ki set up a chance for Wayne Routledge at the start of the second half, only to see him put his shot too close to Howard, then Deufoleu whipped in a cross at the other end that fizzed across goal but was too quick for either Barkley or Steven Pienaar to reach. Sigurdsson shot straight at Howard when a pass to the supporting Ki may have been a better option, before the home crowd’s suspicions that decisions were not going their way were confirmed when a Seamus Coleman cross that clearly struck Taylor’s arm failed to result in a penalty. It would have been a harsh one, though several similar have been given.
Swansea were beginning to defend deep and live a little dangerously in final 15 minutes. Deufoleu continued to deliver a series of menacing crosses without managing to pick out Romelu Lukaku. When Barkley did manage to hit that target with a cross from the left four minutes from time, Fabianski reacted well to reach a firm downward header.
Lukaku flashed a header over the bar in stoppage time and Coleman somehow missed from a yard out with the last kick of the game but Swansea held on for a win they deserved. For a club supposedly in crisis they do not look in bad shape and are now only four points behind Everton, which says everything about how Robero Martínez’s side have underachieved this season.