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Sunday 11 December 2016

Francesco Guidolin wants three points to keep Swansea up after comeback at Stoke

Published 02/04/2016 | 22:36

Francesco Guidolin's Swansea are edging towards safety
Francesco Guidolin's Swansea are edging towards safety

Swansea head coach Francesco Guidolin believes his team need three more points to complete the job after they took another step towards Barclays Premier League safety with a battling 2-2 draw at Stoke.

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After going 2-0 down via an Ibrahim Afellay header in the 13th minute and Bojan Krkic strike in the 53rd, the Swans produced an unlikely-looking comeback to secure a point as Gylfi Sigurdsson and substitute Alberto Paloschi netted in the 68th and 79th minutes respectively.

With six games left to play they remain in 15th position, still 10 points clear of 18th-placed Sunderland, who drew 0-0 with West Brom during Saturday's action and have seven matches to go.

Guidolin had said in the build-up to the Stoke fixture he felt four more points would be required to ensure Swansea avoided relegation, taking them to 40.

And when asked after the draw at the Britannia Stadium if he thought the Welsh side were now safe, the Italian said: "No. I think we need three points.

"I asked after our match about Sunderland and saw their result.

"The season is not finished - for us or any of the teams.

"It is important to play in the future, like next week (against Chelsea at home) for example, with this character and courage."

Although Stoke had appeared firmly in control up until the hour mark, Guidolin insisted he had been happy with Swansea's performance throughout the game.

"It was a good transformation in the second half, but I saw my team play well in the first half as well," said the 60-year-old, whose side have lost only one of their last five games and won three of them.

"My team played with personality, and I am happy."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes expressed his frustration at the opportunity missed to secure what would have been a fifth win in seven matches. The draw keeps them in eighth as they lost ground in the battle for Europe.

Hughes acknowledged Swansea's substitutes, including the particularly lively Jefferson Montero, made a difference after the break.

But he took issue with the effort Paloschi struck past Premier League debutant goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard, who had come into the starting XI for the injured Jack Butland, being allowed to stand.

Asked if he saw the result as a win thrown away, Hughes said: "Yes, to a certain extent.

"I thought we were good value at 2-0 and quite comfortable in the game. But as everyone knows, 2-0 up is always one of those leads that, for whatever reason, seems to be difficult to protect, and this was a case in point today.

"The key thing was who was going to score the next goal, and obviously Swansea got it.

"They got a bit of a lift from that. They had brought the lad Montero on, who gave them an outlet, and in the end they got a second goal.

"I'd say we got a little bit leggy, while Swansea had nothing to lose - they could have a real go and throw on attack-minded players. Possibly we got a little bit apprehensive, trying to protect what we had.

"But we are disappointed with the decision on the second goal because there was a player in an offside position who made a movement towards the ball, meaning he was interfering with play, so it shouldn't have been given.

"All in all, we are disappointed, but I thought there was some really progressive play in what we did today, some good movement.

"I was pleased up to a point - but obviously, with losing the 2-0 lead, it feels somewhat like a defeat."

Press Association

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