Report - Swansea City 1-0 Aston Villa
26th December 2014
Gylfi Sigurdsson's 13th minute strike from a free kick was enough for Swansea City to get all three points against Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
Goalkeeper Lucasz Fabianski made two key saves very late to allow his side to hold on to survive a late surge of Villa pressure as they looked for an equaliser.
After long spells of heavy rain, the pitch was of course very slippery and held a lot of water which saw the ball stick in places and slide off the surface in others, and it was a challenge for both teams to adjust to the conditions.
Jefferson Montero's skillful, quick and tricky runs have caused problems for all sorts of full backs so far this season and today was no different. It was just a shame he was only on the pitch for 22 minutes before being forced off the pitch to be replaced by Wayne Routledge.
The Ecuadorian winger got past a few players before being bundled over just outside the penalty area. Sigurdsson stepped up, and although the ball was quite far over to the left side of the goal, the Icelandic midfielder was able to pick out the top right corner of the net despite the goalkeeper standing on that same side of the target.
That 13th minute strike was enough for the Swans - who struggled to get Bony involved in the game as the visitors did a decent job of keeping him quiet - the same could be said for his opposite number Benteke.
The hosts would go on to create only another 4 opportunities, of which only 1 tested Guzan in goal. Monk's side did get the ball into the net one more time in the second half, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Both sides were guilty of giving away possession too easily and quickly in the first half but it always the Swans that were keeping hold of the ball for longer spells. They had little to show for it, but their 1-goal lead at the break looked safe enough so far.
Aston Villa stepped up their momentum in the second half, but it wasn't until the final 10 minutes that Fabianski was given the chance to prove just why he's been tipped as one of the best free transfers this season so far.
Agbonlahor should have done much better when he was sent through by Benteke, but his shot bounced just wide of the target under pressure from home skipper Ashley Williams. Benteke was then given a chance himself, an even better one than the one he setup moments before. You'd fancy the frontman to head home, but Fabianski was equal to it with a magnificent save.
Villa were dominating the second half and the pressure on the Swans increased as the game went on. The hosts lacked the ability once more to regain control in midfield, as Carroll's introduction in place of a shaky Shelvey changed nothing. The defence held on well enough but at times they were too slow to follow Villa's movement in the final third. They were often too narrow, allowing Villa plenty of space down the flanks, particularly on the right as Dyer pushed in central allowing their left back to put in some decent crosses.
Fabianski made a couple of superb saves late on and it looked like they had held on for 3 points, but they were fortunate to have the 'big pole in our goal' as Villa will be frustrated to have left South Wales with nothing.