Swansea 1-0 Norwich: Gylfi Sigurdsson's strike edges Swans closer to safety
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 06/03/16 10:59am
Swansea moved nine points clear of the Premier League relegation zone after a crucial 1-0 victory over Norwich at the Liberty Stadium.
Watched by new FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who was in Wales for the International Football Association Board meeting, Swansea sealed all three points thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson's second-half strike.
Victory keeps Swansea 16th in the table but moves them clear of the relegation places and level on points with Crystal Palace, who play Liverpool live on Super Sunday.
Norwich, who are now without a win in nine league games, stay 18th, one point adrift of safety with nine games left to play.
Swansea were still without manager Francesco Guidolin, who was advised by the doctors to take extra time to continue his recovery from a chest infection. Alan Curtis was the man in charge for the home side as they made six changes to the side that beat Arsenal in midweek.
Alex Neil made two alterations of his own from the side that lost to Chelsea in midweek with Steven Naismith and Gary O'Neil returning to the starting line-up and it was the visitors, who created the first opening as Nathan Redmond shot straight at Lukasz Fabianski.
Chances were few and far between but both sides looked dangerous from set pieces with Sigurdsson and Robbie Brady delivering some testing deliveries.
Norwich were handed a blow when Brady was forced from the field midway through the first-half because of injury with Ryan Bennett replacing him.
The visitors were forced into a reshuffle with Russell Martin moving to left-back but it did not seem to affect them with Cameron Jerome forcing Fabianski into a smart save low down to his left.
Swansea thought they should have had a penalty just before the break when Andre Ayew was brought down by Timm Klose on the edge of the penalty area. The Ghanaian forward led the Swansea appeals but referee Craig Pawson was unmoved.
Alberto Paloschi was withdrawn at half-time, with Curtis moving Ayew up front and Modou Barrow introduced on the right wing.
The move worked for the hosts as they started to dominate possession, but they could not make it count with Barrow and Ayew both firing over the bar.
However, they eventually found the finishing touch in the 61st minute as Jack Cork released substitute Leroy Fer, whose pass picked out Sigurdsson and the Iceland international made no mistake with a low finish into the bottom corner from 14 yards.
The influential Wayne Routledge almost added a second goal in the 67th minute only for Ruddy to deny him at his near post and the Norwich goalkeeper was in action again late on, pushing Sigurdsson's free-kick away from goal.
Norwich pushed for an equaliser right until the end and almost claimed a point when Routledge's poor clearance fell to Redmond, but the winger's shot drifted wide of the far post.
The visitors had one final chance as substitute Patrick Bamford poked a shot towards goal but Fabianski held on to the ball as Swansea edged closer to safety.
Soccer Saturday verdict - Phil Thompson
"If Swansea can get five more points they should be safe. The game hinged on Britton off, Fer on. He supplies the ball to Sigurdsson, across the box, and he puts it in the far corner on 61 minutes. Sigurdsson was by far the best player in the game.
"Norwich showed very little in the second half. They had a real go but why didn't they show that urgency earlier on? I don't think Norwich will have enough. They don't score enough goals and Jerome never really worries you. They stay in games for quite a while but it always seems to be them who buckle. Chances were few and far between but Swansea will be delighted with their return in the last few days."
Swansea: Fabianski (7), Rangel (6), Fernandez (7), Williams (7), Taylor (6), Cork (6), Britton (5), Routledge (7), Sigurdsson (8), Ayew (7), Paloschi (5).
Subs: Fer (7), Gomis (6), Barrow (7).
Norwich: Ruddy (6), Ivo Pinto (6), Klose (7), Martin (6), Brady (6), Redmond (7), Howson (6), O'Neil (6), Hoolahan (6), Naismith (7), Jerome (5).
Subs: Mbokani (6), Bamford (7), Bennett (6).
Man of the match: Gylfi Sigurdsson