Saturday 24 February 2018

Rodgers heaps praise on 'wonderful' Swansea as one-dimensional Villa fall flat


Phil Shaw

Swansea's previous win outside of Wales, against Reading at Wembley last May, swept them into the Premier League.

Their first away victory this season, against an Aston Villa whose manager Alex McLeish termed the loss "a kick in the teeth" following their triumph at Chelsea, underlined what a credit they are to the so-called best league in the world.

Even after seven changes to the side that drew with Tottenham, Swansea carried too much poise, precision and fluidity for a one-dimensional Villa team who relied on set-pieces.

Making nonsense of having the top flight's worst away record, they struck early in each half, with the wingers, Nathan Dyer and ex-Villa player Wayne Routledge, doing the damage.

Villa's fifth defeat in six home games left McLeish in sombre mood.

"It's unbelievable. Frightening," he said. "The confidence and morale were really high after the weekend but we've shot ourselves in the foot, especially against a team like Swansea who keep the ball really well.

"It's so disappointing to see us take three positive steps forward then take a backward step like that. You can't give away goals like we did, but we never had the inspiration."

Swansea had lost all previous seven league fixtures at Villa by a 19-0 aggregate, a fact Brendan Rodgers noted in his verdict.

"It was a wonderful performance and result for us," the manager said.

"I made the changes to maintain the energy and enthusiasm and I thought my players were brilliant. Everything that is good in our game was evident."

Villa failed to force a save worthy of the description from Michel Vorm, the closest they came to scoring being when Charles N'Zogbia volleyed against the upright with the game's last kick.

However, for all Swansea's assurance in possession -- epitomised by the Ardiles-like Leon Britton in midfield -- it took a gift from Villa's Stephen Warnock to get them up and running.

Under no pressure, the former England left-back under-hit a back-pass to Richard Dunne. Dyer pounced to beat Brad Guzan from 16 yards.

Danny Graham, whose prodigious work-rate was not complemented by authority in front of goal, twice spurned chances to extend Swansea's lead, while the Spaniard Andrea Orlandi, making his first start of the campaign, shot inches past the far post. Villa, booed off at half-time, needed to restart on the front foot but their deficit was soon doubled.

Guzan's kick flew to Britton, who released Routledge to leave Carlos Cuellar trailing. When the low cross was scuffed against the post by Graham, Routledge despatched a diagonal shot into the far corner for his first Premier League goal. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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