Swansea City 1:2 Leicester City
Caretaker manager Michael Appleton led City to a fine 2-1 win against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday…
Appleton made one change to Craig Shakespeare’s final starting line-up, bringing Okazaki in for Iheanacho, as City took on the Swans on a wet and windy afternoon in South Wales.
And the side immediately looked more positive than they had in recent weeks, with Okazaki’s glancing header forcing Fabianski into a save in the first minute.
The Swansea keeper was called into action again in the 9th minute, when Okazaki teed up Albrighton for a shot that was tipped over the bar.
City were dealing well with Swansea attacks and looking lively up front, and Fabianski made further saves from a Vardy shot and and an off-the-shoulder effort from Ndidi.
City underlined their superiority, taking the lead in the 25th minute. Mahrez retrieved the ball from the goal line, and the home side appeared to switch off, expecting a goal kick. The Algerian international delivered a dangerous cross from the left and Fernandez sent a diving header across Fabianski and into the net.
Swansea had a decent spell after falling behind, and a Narsingh cross deflected off Simpson but was claimed by Schmeichel at the foot of the post.
Despite a series of corners, the Swans failed to trouble City, who took their lead in with them at the break.
Four minutes into the second half, City doubled their lead with Okazaki getting the reward for his huge efforts.
Albrighton swung over a ball to pick out Mahrez on the edge of the six yard box, again the Swans defence hesitated appealing for offside, and Mahrez cushioned a pass for Okazaki to stab home from close in.
City’s two goal lead only lasted until the 56th minute, however.
A poor corner from the left by Renato Sanches was turned into a good one by Ayew’s back heel, and it found Mawson, whose shot on the turn found the bottom right hand corner.
Swansea had their tails up for a while, but rarely threatened Schmeichel’s goal, with an off target header from Abraham, and a long range effort from Naughton that flew well over.
King replaced Okazaki in the 68th minute as Appleton shored up a midfield that had seen a fantastic performance from Iborra, now finding his feet in the Premier League.
City could have wrapped things up with fifteen minutes left, but Vardy was denied by Fabianski in a one-on-one chance.
Swansea pressed forward with increasing desperation, but didn’t create any clear cut chances, a Routledge shot into the side-netting being the closest they came.
So the final whistle saw City’s second win of the season and a leapfrog out of the relegation zone up to 13th place.
It had been a hugely encouraging display, with some superb moments from Mahrez, solid defending, and effective attacking on the break.
The fans who had made the long trip in the face of ‘Storm Brian’ celebrated victory, though a ‘RUDKIN OUT’ banner reflected what some of them thought about recent events at the club.
Michael Appleton commented: “It’s been a difficult week for everyone – especially myself because of my relationship with Craig. This was an opportunity to put on a performance and make people feel a bit better. I was pleased with the first half – the way we moved the ball and went forward. And even when we conceded a sloppy goal, the way we saw out the game was very good.”
Swansea: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Renato Sanches (Routledge 78), Britton (Ki Sung-yueng 45), Carroll, Narsingh (Dyer 56), Abraham, Ayew. Substitutes: van der Hoorn, Nordfeldt, Clucas, Rangel.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez (Gray 87), Ndidi, Iborra, Albrighton, Okazaki (King 68), Vardy. Substitutes: Chilwell, Iheanacho, Hamer, Amartey, Slimani.
Referee: Michael Oliver. Attendance: 20,521.
PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.
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