Report - Newcastle United 1-2 Swansea City
St James' Park
17th November 2012
Swansea City enjoyed one of their best Premier League away victories this afternoon after a fantastic 2-1 win at Newcastle United.
After weathering the early storm, the Swans caught the Magpies on the break with Michu and de Guzman on target to put the Swans 2-0 in front, before an injury-time headed goal from Ba was too little too late for the home side.
Michael Laudrup was forced to make another change to his starting eleven as Ki Sung Yeung was missing from midfield, but that allowed MIchu to fall back into his preferred attacking midfield role and loanee Shechter to make his first start of the season.
While Newcastle boss Alan Pardew blamed his side's poor performance on a lack of experience and first team players, the Swans coped with their own absences brilliantly. Chico Flores returned but he was on the bench as Monk again lined up in defence alongside Ashley Williams and Ben Davies. Gerhard Tremmel produced another superb performance in between the sticks while Itay Shechter also offers something different in the lone striker role. Nathan Dyer's equalising goal at Southampton last weekend also earned him a start ahead of Wayne Routledge.
The home side got out of the blocks well as they looked to make a bright start to the game. They dominated the early stages as Ben Arfa and Demba Ba had their best chances of the half. Ben Arfa fired a shot at the side netting before top scorer Ba saw a header fly just wide of the far post.
Apart from that, the Magpies were often limited to long range shots - all of which were blazed over the upright. Crosses were often easily cleared while other passes in the final third were often inaccurate as they lacked that killer edge when searching for an opening goal before the break.
Despite Newcastle having 60% possession in the opening 45 minutes, goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel was only tested on one occassion. It was Ben Arfa again, the host's best hope of attacking creativity in and around the penalty area. Again, he cut inside onto his left foot and unleashed a powerful effort on goal that was well saved by the German.
The Swans did have chances themselves, as they looked to make that killer ball through the opposition's defence. They were getting close on ocassions. Nathan Dyer was put through on goal but a defender did well to put him under pressure and force him to put a shot wide of the post.
Swansea's other good chance of the first came when Michu tested Krul with an excellent low drive from outside the area, but no one was able to follow up the rebound as the goalkeeper could only parry his effort.
HALF TIME: NEWCASTLE UTD 0-0 SWANSEA CITY
As the Magpies continued to shoot harmlessly over the bar, you started to get the feeling that they were going to be guilty of what Swansea City often were last season - dominating possession, not creating chances and being punished on the break - and they eventually were when the Spanish duo of Hernandez and Michu linked up.
Swansea City's opener should have come 6 minutes earlier though when the ball was squared to Shechter after another excellent counter attack. Laudrup's side certainly showed everyone how effective counter-attacking football can be when you have pace in your side. Hernandez picked out the loan striker in acres of space but his powerful first time shot from 19 yards went over the bar. Swansea's best chance of the game and one he really should have buried.
The Swans usually show an improvement in the second half and it was no different today. The defence weren't made to work as hard and they showed just how dangerous they can be on the counter. When Newcastle were guilty of a poor pass in the final third, Laudrup's team were able to break and enter the opposition's half sometimes with just one or two direct passes to one of the wingers. Midfielders were always quick to add support and this was demonstrated when Shechter fired over. Krul's poor pass then helped us get the opener. Hernandez broke down the left and de Guzman and Michu were in the box to meet his cross. Of course it was Michu who dived in with an unbeattable header to break the deadlock.
The next goal was going to be vital now. Swansea's opener invited the home side to force more men forward in search of an equaliser and this either meant that likely Newcastle would get a goal back or the Swans would produce another excellent counter attack and double their advantage. The latter occured of course, but not until the final few minutes of the game.
Demba Ba looked to provide an instant response to Michu's opener but a 14-yard header was never going to beat Gerhard Tremmel.
Some manager's might have looked to defend their lead and bring on a defensive player to help do that, but not Michael Laudrup. 25 minutes was always going to be a long time to keep Newcastle out, especially with the amount of long balls they were pumping into the box. He decided to replace Nathan Dyer with Wayne Routledge, although Kemy Agustien did come on for Michu.
Michu should have killed the game off for the Swans and guaranteed the points after 75 minutes with yes, a counter attacking move - this time down the right flank. The ball got pulled back to the Spaniard but he somehow skewed a poor shot just wide of the post. He might have been in two minds as whether to shoot or pass to de Guzman who was unmarked at the far stick.
It might have been a costly miss at this stage of the game as Newcastle consistently pumped long balls into the box as the two teams continued to show a complete opposite of footballing styles. Newcastle's play was often predictable and unimaginable as the Swansea defence looked assured and confidence more often than not.
With four minutes remaining on the clock, the Swans again made up for a previous missed opportunity as after Michu failed to grab himself a brace, Jonathan de Guzman found the net when subsitute Danny graham's low left footed attempt was only parried by Krul, and the Dutchman was well-placed to find the roof of the net and almost certainly guarantee the team's first away win since the opening day of the season.
Newcastle's hopes of a point were looking extremely thin with just 8 minutes to play, including 4 in injury time, but they got a glimmer of hope when Demba Ba headed in after good play from Ben Arfa. Laudrup's team were unfortunate not to get their third clean sheet of the season as there looked to be an obvious foul on the goalkeeper, as a player held him back to allow Ba to head after a shot came back off the crossbar.
The goal was too little too late for the hosts as Swansea City held on for a superb and deserved win against a Newcastle side that lacked a cutting edge in front of goal. Their final ball - whether it be a pass, cross or long range effort - and there were plenty of them - were extremely lacking, while the Swans were more clinical they have been recently to win the game.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson (Gael Bigirimana 74), Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor (c), Davide Santon; Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheick Tiote, Vurnon Anita, Shane Ferguson (Shola Ameobi 46); Sammy Ameobi (Sylvain Marveaux 80), Demba Ba
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, James Tavernier, Mehdi Abeid, Romain Amalfitano
Swansea City (4-3-3): Gerhard Tremmel; Angel Rangel, Garry Monk (c), Ashley Williams, Ben Davies; Jonathan De Guzman, Leon Britton, Itay Shechter (Kemy Agustien 66); Pablo Hernandez, Michu (Danny Graham 82), Nathan Dyer (Wayne Routledge 62)
Subs not used: David Cornell, Chico Flores, Dwight Tiendalli, Luke Moore