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Swansea 2-0 Fulham Prem 23 1314 Daily Telegraph

last updated Wednesday 29th January 2014, 10:36 AM
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Graham Clutton at Daily Telegraph

Swansea (0) 2 Fulham (0) 0

Two deflected goals in the second half of a cagey relegation battle at the Liberty Stadium and a long overdue smile from Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup.

No such joy, however, for Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen, whose side have now conceded 50 goals in 23 Premier League games this season.

A little unfortunate the visitors might have been, but Jonjo Shelvey's opening goal on the hour, via the back of Brede Hangeland, and a Chico Flores header 15 minutes from time, means Fulham now have the worst goal difference of all 92 teams in the Premier and Football Leagues.

On another night, they might have left South Wales with a point or even more. First-half opportunities for Hangeland, Ashkan Dejagah and Clint Dempsey should have given Meulensteen something to defend at half-time.

As it was, Swansea grew in stature after Nathan Dyer's arrival 13 minutes into the second half and duly won for only the second time, in the league, in 11 attempts. It was a win that not only takes them into 10th, but for the time being, lifts the pressure from the shoulders of their Danish manager.

Laudrup said: "When you are struggling, especially mentally, it takes the whole team to bring you through and that was what has happened. I am not going to single out anyone, they have all worked hard.

"We were terrible in the first half against Birmingham on Saturday, but we were better today, especially after the first goal. The first goal was always going to be important.

"I got the impression Fulham had come for a point, so it was not going to be easy. They defended with nine, but once we got the first goal, I was happy."

Having missed the last six weeks with an ankle injury, Dyer made an immediate impact with his assist for Shelvey's opening goal. The diminutive winger held his nerve on the edge of the Fulham box and placed the ball in front of Shelvey, 25 yards out.

The former Liverpool midfielder could scarcely believe his good fortune as the ball struck Steve Sidwell on the shoulder and Hangeland on the back before spinning past the helpless Maarten Stekelenburg. The relief was evident, among the players, in the stands and on the touchline where Laudrup punched the air with delight.

Fifteen minutes later, it was game over. A typically precise free-kick from Jonathan de Guzman picked out Flores, whose header ricocheted off the back of Dimitar Berbatov and inside the near post.

There was no sign of Meulensteen at the post-match press conference with his players turning down the opportunity to speak to the press too. If they are feeling the pressure now, what price they are feeling it even more in three weeks' time after games against Southampton, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Swansea City (4-2-3-1) Tremmel 6; Rangel 6, Chico 6, Williams 6, Davies7; Britton 6, De Guzman 6 (Pozuelo 88); Hernandez 5 (Dyer 58, 6), Shelvey 6 (Amat 79, 6), Routledge6 ; Bony 6.
Subs Cornell, Taylor, Lamah, Vazquez.

Fulham (4-2-3-1) Stekelenburg 6, Riether 6, Hangeland 6, Burn 6, Richardson 6; Parker 6; Sidwell 5, Kacaniklic 6, Dempsey 5 (Duff 71, 6), Dejagah 6 (Bent 59, 6); Berbatov 5 (Tankovic 83, 5).
Subs Stockdale, Hughes, Rodallega, Christensen.

Booked: Richardson.

Referee: M Oliver (Northumberland).

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