Swansea beat Everton in league play for the first time in their history behind a clinical first half and a tidy second half under new manager Francesco Guidolin.
The Italian took charge for the first time today, and he navigated a second half dominated by Everton as the visitors never uncomfortable defending with the lead.
In the opening minutes, Everton looked happy to sit back and defend Swansea’s possession, and they had a chance on the break as Muhamed Besic hit the post on the break just three minutes in. Besic, unfortunately, had to go off after just 10 minutes due to a hamstring injury, replaced by Tom Cleverly.
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The home side was pegged back in the 16th minute when a horrific back-pass by John Stones instead sprung Andre Ayew in the six-yard box anad Tim Howard come out to challenge. Instead of looking to collect the ball under pressure, the American goalkeeper instead hacked at the ball, missing and instead catching Ayew’s shins, and the referee pointed to the spot. Gylfi Sigurdsson buried the penalty, and Swansea went 1-0 up inside 20 minutes.
Everton had to make another injury change with Kevin Mirallas going off, but not before the Toffees were level on 27 minutes. A set-piece opportunity brought them back, as a corner swung into Gareth Barry at the near post who touched a back-heel into the far corner. The goal was initially credited to Barry, but on further review, the initial effort would have gone wide if not helped by a deflection off the leg of Jack Cork.
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The parity wouldn’t last long, as the Swans broke down the left on 35 minutes. It cut in to Ayew, who struck a tight-angled shot that deflected off Stones and buried into the net past Tim Howard for a 2-1 lead.
After halftime, Everton pushed forward and had a glaring chance on 50 minutes, but Ross Barkley blasted over from point blank range and the flag went up as well. The home side continued to pummel the Swansea area after the break, as Gerard Deulofeu looked bright on the right wing, sending in a number of positive crosses in front of goal, but each time nobody was there to meet it.
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That storyline continued through the final 45 minutes, but Swansea’s defense held firm each time. Lukaku had a chance with five minutes to go on a cross from Ross Barkley, but his header was well saved by a diving Lukas Fabianski. Seamus Coleman had a beautiful opportunity having shaken Ashley Williams in the box, but he pulled the shot wide after slipping. The final whistle came as Coleman put one more point-blank effort over the bar.
That was all Everton had to offer, as they slipped at home yet again and remain out of the top half of the table, sitting 12th with 29 points. Swansea’s victory propelled them away from the relegation zone, up to 15th four points outside the danger area.