Ki strike earns much-needed win

Ki Sung-yueng’s early goal earned Swansea City an important 1-0 victory at home to West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Swans came into the game winless since October 24, with their poor run of form leaving them in relegation trouble and prompting the sacking of Garry Monk.

Swansea’s search for a new manager continues but caretaker Alan Curtis is finally off the mark, guiding his team out of the bottom three.

West Brom saw two strong penalty shouts turned down either side of the interval, but were perhaps lucky not to see Callum McManaman dismissed for a clash with Angel Rangel after the second of the appeals.

But the Swans, who started without a recognised striker after Curtis drafted in Wayne Routledge and Jefferson Montero for Jack Cork and Bafetimbi Gomis, held firm.

The impressive rearguard display will boost Swansea’s confidence, and they looked immediately buoyed as took the lead with the first real chance of the game nine minutes in.

A slick exchange of passes down the right flank saw Angel Rangel burst into the area and unleash a shot which hit the near post and ricocheted off Boaz Myhill, who could not gather, allowing Ki to race in and stab home from point-blank range.

West Brom had their first penalty claim rejected when Chris Brunt went down under a challenge just inside the area in the 29th minute, referee Roger East unmoved by the visitors’ appeals. Moments later, Craig Gardner’s corner from the left evaded the Swansea defence and bounced invitingly at the back post, where Craig Dawson narrowly failed to make contact.

Rickie Lambert – in for the suspended Salomon Rondon – had a presentable chance well saved by Lukasz Fabianski in the 52nd minute but it was a rare occurrence for the visitors and it took until late in the second half for Tony Pulis’ team to finally bring some sustained pressure to bear on the Swansea goal.

Substitute Stephane Sessegnon found Lambert at the near post with 18 minutes to go and the former Southampton striker was only inches wide with his rushed effort.

Swansea, now pinned back, had a penalty appeal of their own turned down when Neil Taylor’s shot appeared to strike an arm, with James Morrison going close at the other end after a poor clearance from the home left-back.

West Brom had more claims for a spot-kick waved away when Leon Britton tangled with McManaman with the final whistle fast approaching.

The winger came close to head-butting Rangel in the ensuing confrontation between both sets of players, but East did not punish him further, with West Brom’s frustrations evident as they afforded Swansea a hugely welcome three points in their battle to pull clear of trouble.


Key Opta stats:

– Ki’s goal was his first in his last 17 Premier League appearances and his first since May 2nd 2015.

– The midfielder’s goal was also his second in the top-flight to come on Boxing Day, after his first-ever Premier League goal bagged on December 26th 2013 against Everton.

– Ki is just the fifth different player to score for the Swans in the league this season.

– This was only the third game that Swansea have found the net in, in their last eight Premier League matches.

– The Baggies have gone five successive Premier League games without a win for the first time under Tony Pulis (D3 L2).

– There have only been three goals scored across the four Barclays Premier League Boxing Day fixtures featuring Swansea City.

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