SWANSEA: Second-half goals from Andre Ayew and Bafetimbi Gomis earned Swansea City a stirring 2-1 victory over Manchester United yesterday as Garry Monk’s side went fourth in the Premier League. Juan Mata’s 48th-minute strike put United ahead at the Liberty Stadium, but Swansea hit back with quickfire goals to take all three points and edge Louis van Gaal’s men into fifth place.
It was a third successive league win over United for Swansea and ended the visitors’ unbeaten record, bringing them down to earth after their mid-week 4-0 win over Club Brugge in the Champions League play-off round. On a pitch that was made just about perfect by early-morning drizzle, United’s first chance of the game came inside 90 seconds. Swansea conceded a free-kick 25 yards from goal and were delighted to see goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski palm Memphis Depay’s shot to safety. Mata was a yard too high, a minute later, from distance and though Swansea tried, it was the visitors who controlled the game in a midfield dominated by Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin. Mata was causing all sorts of problems with his movement in the final third, but when the ball was dished up on a plate to the Spaniard in the 16th minute, he dragged his shot wide of Fabianski’s near post. Swansea’s first chance fell to Gomis. Jonjo Shelvey won a tackle in his own half, but when Ayew picked out Gomis with a lofted delivery, the Frenchman screwed his shot wide.
Two minutes later, Swansea missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. Shelvey’s free-kick was turned into the path of Gylfi Sigurdsson, who from nine yards dragged his shot wide of the far post. Shelvey’s attempted chip, barely a minute later, was comfortably dealt with by Sergio Romero, but Gomis then went closer by driving towards goal and stabbing a shot against the post. Having settled, Swansea were beginning to pose one or two serious questions of a United side who looked vulnerable at the back. Two minutes into the second half, Matteo Darmian was too slow to react to a ball across the back four from Daley Blind and was forced to trip Wayne Routledge. The Italian full-back escaped a yellow card and was fortunate to see Shelvey’s free-kick land in the arms of Romero. A minute after that, United found themselves in front. Luke Shaw broke down the United left and delivered a cross to the far post that Mata converted despite the attentions of Ashley Williams. Williams came close to gifting United a second in the 51st minute. Depay crossed from the right and when Williams went to clear, the ball sliced off his left boot and forced Fabianski into a smart save. Gary Monk replaced the ineffective Routledge with Ki Sung-yueng with 32 minutes remaining and immediately sent Ayew to partner Gomis in a 4-4-2 formation with a midfield diamond.
The new shape worked immediately. Williams released Sigurdsson down the right and when the Icelandic midfielder delivered to Ayew, the Ghanaian’s downward header flashed past Romero. The game moved on quickly and with United second best in all areas, Swansea seized the moment and took the lead through Gomis. Shelvey and Sigurdsson combined on halfway before Ayew brilliantly sent the Frenchman through using the outside of his left foot. Gomis failed to get a good connection on his shot, but it was enough to beat Romero at his near post. The introduction of Marouane Fellaini gave United more presence in the final third but Swansea defended with a degree of comfort throughout the final quarter with Williams, once again, a tower of strength. Rooney had one final chance to snatch a point, but having worked his way into a shooting position, he delayed his shot and allowed Williams to clear the danger. It summed up a frustrating afternoon for Rooney and United. — AFP