Swansea climb out of Premier League relegation zone
Swansea gave themselves hope of Premier League survival as Fernando Llorente’s first-half header secured a 1-0 win at home to Everton on Saturday that took the Welsh club out of the relegation zone.
Llorente’s goal, his 13th of the season, lifted Swansea a point clear of the bottom three, leapfrogging Hull City who earlier on Saturday lost at home to already relegated Sunderland.
Swansea can now decide their own destiny, with two league games left to play this season.
Everton may have already qualified for the Europa League but that did not stop them giving Swansea several scares before the hosts held on to a precious win at the Liberty Stadium.
Indeed it was Everton who created the first chance of the game in the opening minute, only for Romelu Lukaku to head straight at Lukasz Fabianski.
Swansea thought they should have had a penalty when Gylfi Sigurdsson went down in the box but referee Martin Atkinson was unmoved.
Fortunately for Swansea, they scored the only goal of the game barly 60 seconds later as Llorente broke the deadlock in the 29th minute.
Jordan Ayew, finding space on the left, delivered a cross which Gareth Barry could not cut out and Llorente leapt above Everton captain Phil Jagielka at the far post to head home for a goal greeted with raucous cheers from Swansea’s supporters.
Swansea had chances to double their lead, especially in the 54th minute when Sigurdssson’s mis-hit shot went into a crowded area and struck Alfie Mawson.
The ball fell to Ayew but his shot, in turn, hit the outside of the post.
Substitute Leroy Fer also went close for the Swans, with Everton goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg blocking a close-range effort with his legs.
Everton pressed hard in the closing stages but were left frustrated in their search for an equalising goal.
Swansea manager Paul Clement told BT Sport: “It is one of my proudest moments today. What a fantastic, gritty performance. It was so important we got that result today after what happened at Hull.”
He added: “We have hit some form both offensively and especially defensively. We have played against really good opposition and seven points from three games is a fantastic tally.
“It gave us a lift before the game knowing that (Hull) result had gone in our favour; we knew if we did something special we could get out of the relegation zone.”
With games remaining against relegated Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion, Swansea appear to have a kinder run-in than Hull, who face Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur.
“We are confident we can go anywhere and get a result with the form we’re in. We’re focused on Sunderland on Saturday,” Clement told the BBC.
“It’s not done. It just shows what happened this weekend, the swing can go with you one week and then go against you. We’ve got to try and pick up all three points.”
- AFP, REUTERS