Swansea 2-0 Fulham: Swans rebound against lifeless Cottagers (video)

1 Comment

Goals from Jonjo Shelvey and Chico Flores gave Swansea their first win since December 4th as Fulham withered away to defeat at Liberty Stadium.

The Swans breathed life into their home fans and their season from start to finish, and it sent the visitors home hanging their heads at a complete lack of class and urgency.

As the home side begun brightly, Wilfried Bony got his first half-chance on 12 minutes but couldn’t convert firing over. The first real chance fell to Shelvey soon after who blasted over after some nice touches.

Fulham looked to absorb pressure and play on the counter, and it earned them a pair of good chances.  Towering Brede Hangeland came oh so close off a Kieran Richardson free kick, but his header stung just over the bar.

Then in the 30th minute they broke down the left wing, as Alex Kacaniklic breezed around Chico Flores and crossed perfectly to Ashkan Dejagah all alone in the box but his header was weak and right at Gerhard Tremmel.

source:
Clint Dempsey and Dimitar Berbatov were helpless to give Fulham any life as Swansea controlled most of the play.

Despite the chances Swansea remained in command, and Shelvey ripped a twisting shot on goal in the 40th minute, but he smashed the crossbar.   It was eerily similar to the last time these two sides faced each other, when Shelvey netted from well outside the box.

The attempt burst Liberty Stadium to life, and the pressure nearly broke the visitors, but they held on until halftime.  The second half begun exactly as the first ended, with Swansea full of life.

Fulham continued to live dangerously, and they’d get a last-gasp clearance out of the break. Sascha Riether cleared off the line on a corner kick, with Chico’s header just out of reach of a diving Stekelenburg.

Michael Laudrup brought on Nathan Dyer, a pacey winger from the bench who hadn’t played since December 12th due to injury.  Fulham couldn’t deal with his speed, and this time, Fulham wouldn’t have an answer. Jonjo Shelvey wouldn’t squander his second chance in open space.

He hit a cyclone from the top of the key, and it banged off the back of a cowering Brede Hangeland and past a wrong-footed Maarten Stekelenburg.

Swansea continued to batter the visitors who were without answer, and they got a second without too much wait. With just under 20 minutes to go, Chico got a header off a free kick and it clipped off Dimitar Berbatov past Stekelenburg at the near post. Another deflection, another goal.

The win for Swansea puts them up into 10th position, even with Aston Villa.  For Fulham, they remain a point above the drop, but two teams within striking distance have yet to play.

GOALS:

Swansea – Shelvey 61′, Chico Flores 75′

LINEUPS:

Swansea – Tremmel; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; Britton, de Guzman (Pozuelo 88′), Shelvey (Amat 79′), Routledge, Hernandez (Dyer 58′); Bony.

Fulham – Stekelenburg; Riether, Hangeland, Burn, Richardson; Dejagah (Bent 59′), Parker, Sidwell, Kačaniklić, Dempsey (Duff 71′); Berbatov (Tankovic 83′).

Pep sticking with Bravo for final: “Locker room more important”

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Petr Cech and Ederson will watch from the bench as their clubs start the League Cup Final on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola announced that Manchester City will turn to Claudio Bravo between the sticks against Arsenal, which has already appointed David Ospina as its backstop for the final.

[ MORE: Europa League draw ]

And if you think Pep, having seen his side lose to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, should go back to Ederson for the final, he gets it.

“You can have an opinion, I am the manager. We are here for Claudio. He saved two lots of penalties. He deserves to play in the final. The locker room is more important than the final.”

The points aren’t completely independent, of course, but at this point the final is pretty darn important as Man City could see its trophy potential drop from 4-2 in little more than a week’s time.

Bravo has played just 45 minutes in the Premier League, against Liverpool in relief of Ederson, but has been the man for each of eight League and FA Cup matches.

City has just one clean sheet in that group, but won the seven matches apart from the 1-0 Wigan defeat. Two of those, against Wolves and Leicester, came in penalty kicks.

Arsenal gets AC Milan in Europa League Round of 16

Claudio Villa / Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal’s path to the UEFA Champions League just got a whole lot tougher.

[ MORE: Arsenal loses 2nd leg, advances ]

Already eight points back of the Premier League’s Top Four, the Gunners have drawn Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The first leg is March 8 at the San Siro before moving to the Emirates a week later.

Milan is currently 7th in Serie A despite its big-spending summer, and faces a similar problem to the Gunners; Gattuso’s men need to make up eight points on Lazio and seven on fifth-place Inter Milan.

Elsewhere, Moscovian sides CSKA and Lokomotiv got no favors with trips to Lyon and Atletico Madrid, respectively.

Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund will be pleased to see Red Bull Salzburg, while the latter’s sister club, RB Leipzig, was held apart from it by a draw with Zenit Saint-Petersbug.

Here’s the draw in full.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16
Lazio vs. Dynamo Kiev
RB Leipzig vs. Zenit St Petersburg
Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
CSKA Moscow vs. Lyon
Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao
Sporting Lisbon vs. Viktoria Plzen
Borussia Dortmund vs. Red Bull Salzburg
AC Milan vs. Arsenal

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter
Leave a comment

After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

AP Photo/Alberto Saiz
1 Comment

MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.