Report - Swansea City 2-4 Manchester City
17th May 2015
Swansea City ended their home Premier League campaign with a thoroughly entertaining 4-2 defeat against likely league runners-up Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium.
Garry Monk's side were full of confidence following their 1-0 win at Arsenal on Monday night, and he was in search of Europa League qualification. Knowing a win against Pellegrini's men was a must to achieve that, their approach to the game was far more offensive than the defensive containing tactics used to get the three points at the Emirates earlier in the week.
Arsene Wenger criticised the Swans for adopting such 'negative' tactics, claiming that they 'didn't play', but he could hardly complain about their efforts on Sunday. They contributed to what Pellegrini later described as a 'beautiful game' that they deserved to come out of with all three points, but Swansea's effort and desire - as well as the character to come back from 2-0 was impressive and gives great hope for another solid campaign next year.
The 4-2 scoreline was harsh on the hosts in the end, but you couldn't say it flattered Manchester City either. They controlled large periods in the second half before eventually going back in front after letting their 2-0 lead slip.
It was a game that saw the most shots on target in a single match this season in the Premier League - 20 in total - with Swansea City managing 9 out of 11 shots - excellent accuracy from both sides as the two goalkeepers were regularly called into action.
Swansea City made a bright and energetic start to the game and the opening goal from the visitors halted their progress. The blue half of Manchester showed how clinical they can be while the Swans made hard work of their efforts going forward.
Monk's side were backing off and inviting pressure into their first third, giving too much respect to their opposition and Toure couldn't believe his luck to get a yard of space to fire in a shot that took a wicked deflection off Ashley Williams to help it past Fabianski. You might have expected him to keep it out after his heroics this season, but the deflection lifted the ball up slightly and over his hand.
While Arsenal's play in and around the box was slow and somewhat predictable - which was easy to manage in comparison to City's quick, one touch passing in the final third. Ashley Williams and Federico Fernandez were managing it pretty well in the middle but their second saw some clever play from Aguero to move Richards out of position before sending Milner through down the left.
Dyer wasn't back to help out his full back colleague per Swansea's tactics leaning more to attack, and Milner did well to get inside of Taylor coming across to cover before picking out the far corner of the net.
They had done the damage they needed, clinically finishing off chances while the Swans weren't able to replicate it at the other end.
Manchester City had two players covering the full back-winger combinations on either side nd it was up to the likes of Shelvey and Sigurdsson to inspire a breakthrough.
It might have looked like the visitors had pretty much got the three points in the bag at this point, especially as they had scored two basic chances that the Swans made too easy for them.
But it was Sigurdsson to help us get back into the game, and at the perfect time - just before the half time whistle.
He picked the ball up just outside the box and he was given the space and time to fire in a superb shot low into the far corner that not even Joe Hart could have stopped.
The goal was vital to giving the Swans a chance of getting level in the second half. Their confidence and belief of doing that was restored when it looked like the opposition might have been able to go on and win comfortably without reply.
But such has been Swansea all season, they don't give and it was their character again to shine through.
They had to ride their luck for a long period in the second half. They were keen to restore their 2-goal advantage, and somehow they didn't do that when camped in the final third. Defensive blocks and a few Fab saves kept it at 2-1, before they got their equaliser.
Jonjo Shelvey had tested Hart with a long range effort, that the goalkeeper palmed out for a corner, but he couldn't do anything about Gomis' strike.
I had answered some questions before the game for the Manchester City Official Site Match Preview, and one of them was regarding their strengths and weaknesses. Too often this season we have seen them both on display. A vulnerable defence at one end and clinical finishing at the other. Today was no different, but it was just unfortunate that their superior quality in front of goal outweighed their defensive worries.
They were solid on either flank with two strong full backs, but not so much in the centre. Jazz Richards sent in a high cross that two centre halves should easily have dealt with, but somehow Gomis was able to get in between the pair, control the ball before shooting past Hart and low into the far corner. The ball had gone over the head of the first centre back, and Gomis fended off the other to find the net.
It was a scenario that a side like Manchester City shouldn't have found themselves in, and why they couldn't get close to Chelsea this year.
You could argue that Swansea could maybe have managed the game better after that, but Manchester City's quality was always difficult to maintain due to their movement and quick passing.
Silva was running the show for them on the edge of the box but he was always more useful creating chances than being on the end of them as he missed a couple of chances that would have probably have been converted by Aguero or Toure.
The Swans began to sit deeper again after levelling at 2-2, as the visitors piled on the pressure to get back in front, and it was no surprise to see Monk soon react by bringing on Barrow for Dyer to inject some much needed pace into the side.
Before their equaliser, Swansea's tails were up thanks to their goal on the stroke on half time, but Manchester City were effectively breaking up their attacking play by committing fouls when they looked to make use of the attacking space - something that Swansea needed to do. Pellegrini's players were given the space to run through the middle into the space as the Swans were never willing to commit fouls in the middle of the pitch. Swansea had zero bookings to Manchester City's three as they stopped the likes of Dyer, Barrow and Montero from making longs runs towards the final third.
After a flurry of chances that surprisingly didn't get converted, it was only going to be a matter of time before the ball would fall kindly for either Aguero or Toure to finish, and it was the latter again to get his side back in front. It was a shot that Fabianski will be disappointed not to have kept out, as he made contact with the ball but couldn't get enough on it to steer it away to safety.
Joe Hart was then called into action at least twice later on as Swansea City pushed forward in search of a second equaliser. The first saw one of the best saves you'll have seen at the Liberty Stadium in years. Sigurdsson's corner came in at the perfect height for Fernandez who got a strong head to the ball, directing it towards the top corner. Hart was positioned just to the left of the centre of his goal, but he still managed to get across and get a left hand to keep it out. It was simply stunning, it looked a certain goal given Hart's positioning and Fernandez had surely thought he had scored his first goal for the club.
Gomis was also denied his second of the game after another good reaction save from the England number one and just like Fabianski on Monday night, his heroics helped his side to a win and three points.
Former striker Wilfried Bony then came on with 85 minutes left to play to a standing ovation from the home fans - and rightly so. He needed just five minutes to score against his former club on a pitch he later described as his 'garden' as he knew it so well, while the experience of scoring at the Liberty as an away player was 'strange' as his celebration was subtle and brief.
That final goal, from a former team-mate of theirs was harsh to say the least, but as they looked for another equaliser and committed men forward, space was always going to open up for the visitors. Swansea were guilty of winning back possession in their first third before instantly giving it back as they attempted to play the ball out from deep. It happened in the lead up to Bony's, possession was won and given straight back on Swansea's right, before the ball was lost again, it came inside to Bony and it was his bread and butter, picking out the bottom corner to end the host's slim hopes of a point in injury time.