Report - Swansea City 1-1 Sunderland
7th February 2015
Swansea City had to settle for a point at home against Sunderland as Ki returned from the Asian Cup to equalise against the side he spent last season on loan with.
Jermaine Defoe showed that he hasn't lost his finishing touch when he fired in a low shot on the edge of the box just before half time, and just after Ki had a goal ruled out for offside.
Garry Monk gave a debut to new signing Jack Cork alongside the returning Ki, while Kyle Naughton made his first appearance at the Liberty Stadium. Modou Barrow was also given his first League start as Jefferson Montero returned from injury but only made the subs bench.
After firing in the winner at St Mary's last Sunday, Jonjo Shelvey kept his place in the attacking midfield role behind striker Bafetimbi Gomis.
It was a new look Swansea City side compared to recent weeks, but nevertheless they managed to dominate large periods of the game - more so in the second half after a rather even first that didn't produce a host of clear cut chances.
Jermaine Defoe made the best of their only shot on target in the entire game a minute before the break, while the Swans were unfortunate not to take a deserved lead just moments beforehand.
Gomis had his best chances to score his first League goal since his winner against Arsenal three months ago. He couldn't make a good connection on Barrow's low cross when he slid in at the far post, he had a one on one effort saved and a long range effort fly just a foot wide of the post.
But that was pretty much all we saw of the Frenchman in the game. A promising first 45 minutes and you hoped that he could go on in the second half and get that goal that he'd been trying for. But it was great surprise to see him fade away after the restart. Shelvey and Oliveira might have been a better attacking combination rather than taking Shelvey off and leaving Gomis on for the entire 90 minutes.
Converting chances proved to be a problem once again for the Swans and the offside decision would be the main talking point at half time as Ki looked level at least with the last defender when he touched in Shelvey's free kick from the wide right. On the replay, it looked like his feet were onside and his head wasn't! Who knows what the latest rules are...
Seconds later, the Swans were a goal down - completely against the run of play.
With Ki and Cork pushing forward, Sunderland were able to get the ball into Defoe beyond him and with plenty of space in front to run at the defence.
As they backed off and backed off, with Fernandez refusing to close Defoe down because he was most likely wary of leaving a free runner through, he fired in a low shot that Fabianski had no chance of stopping.
For the third home League game out of the last five, Swansea City had to go in search of an equaliser in the second half.
Of course, they weren't looking for an equaliser when they were 4-0 down against Chelsea, and the other game saw them holding on to a 1-0 lead against Aston Villa after Sigurdsson's early free kick.
But against Spurs and West Ham, and now against Sunderland, Monk's side were a goal down and needed to get back in the game.
Whilst it's a concern that we can't take the initiative at home and get ourselves in front more often than not lately (like we used too) - at least we're showing the character to get back into these games. Spurs was the exception, but we really should have got a point - but a late individual error cost us that day.
Sunderland could and should have doubled their lead early in the second though. Ashley Williams was very fortunate not to be punished for a foul on Alcarez inside the penalty area, but somehow neither the assistant nor the ref - Phil Dowd felt it was a spot kick. Maybe they realised that Ki's goal should have stood?
But whichever it was, Monk couldn't have any complaints about the officials after missing that one.
The Swans were dominant in the second half, as Sunderland relied on a few breaks here and there but never looked like guaranteeing the three points.
Montero came on for Barrow at the start of the half but the Ecuadorian couldn't really significantly improve things on the left wing and his crossing were often easily intercepted.
Swansea's play was more long and direct compared to the first half but there was also some good attacking play down the right thanks to Angel Rangel's introduction, replacing Neil Taylor with Naughton switching over to the left side of defence.
Having said that, Ki's equaliser came in the 66th minute, before the switch of right backs.
Dyer squared the ball to Naughton, and his superb curling cross picked out Ki at the far post who's diving header gave the goalkeeper no chance after looking almost unstoppable.
Ki urgently retrieved the ball from the back of the net as the hosts looked for a winner with another 25 minutes to play.
Swansea's best chance of getting all three points came when the ball was played into substitute Nelson Oliveira down the left side of the penalty area, but his fierce low shot was parried away at the near post.
Sunderland held on to claim a valuable point and it was what they probably deserved as Swansea lacked that extra bit of quality in the final third to go on and win it.
That was the 10th League game where Swansea City have failed to score more than 1 goal in a game. Only against Chelsea have they failed to score in those previous 10 fixtures.