Swansea 0-1 Southampton: Shane Long on target as Saints go marching on
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 13/02/16 6:02pm
Shane Long headed the winner for Southampton as they beat Swansea 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium.
The Irishman converted from Steven Davis' cross from the right, although Swans keeper Lukasz Fabianski may feel he could have done better.
The goal was enough to give Southampton a fifth win in six games as they kept a sixth clean sheet in a row.
Southampton are up to sixth, just a point behind Manchester United, while Swansea will continue to look nervously over their shoulders in the battle to avoid the drop.
There was little to choose between the sides in a first half largely devoid of incident.
Graziano Pelle's volley from just inside the box was the best effort either side was able to conjure up in the opening 40 minutes. However, it was too close to Fabianski and the keeper was able to gather it with ease.
Andre Ayew also saw a tame shot saved by Fraser Forster while Southampton threatened again in the 15th minute, Ashley Williams forced to make a good tackle as Oriel Romeu brought down James Ward-Prowse's cross inside the penalty area.
However, it was not until the 44th minute that either side created a real chance of note. That came when Alberto Paloschi got his head to Jack Cork's cross and flicked it on to Gylfi Sigurdsson at the far post. The midfielder has been in good goalscoring form of late but put his left-foot volley over the bar from 10 yards on this occasion.
A minute later, Southampton had an even better opportunity. Davis drove forward down the right and put in a cross that deceived the Swansea centre-backs and left Long with a free header, eight yards out. The former West Brom forward seemed surprised to see the ball reach him, though, and headed straight at Fabianski.
The visitors slowly took the upper hand as the second period progressed, Romeu unable to make a solid connection from Ryan Bertrand's cross while they also saw Pelle's close range strike chalked off for a foul on Fabinaski.
Swansea had their moments though and almost went in front as Sigurdsson's curled in a superb free-kick from which Williams just failed to get the required contact to head past Forster.
The deadlock was broken five minutes later though as Long atoned for his earlier miss. Substitute Cedric Soares laid the ball off to Davis and again the midfielder's cross found Long unmarked.
This time though Long found his mark, heading down past Fabianski from close range - although the former Arsenal stopper may feel he could have done better as the ball squirmed past him and into the far corner.
Francesco Guidolin's side pushed for an equaliser in the 20 minutes that remained but Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte were on hand to clear time and again as crosses came in.
They could even have added a second late on, Fabianski pushing away Charlie Austin's deflected strike following a swift break.
Indeed, other than a half-hearted penalty appeal as Paloschi collided with Maya Yoshida, Southampton were never unduly worried as they saw the game out to complete another shutout.
Soccer Saturday verdict - Charlie Nicholas
Swansea have real problems. Two shots on target from 13 attempts is not good enough. Southampton weren't great, but they handled the match better. Forster wasn't really troubled at all. He didn't even need to come for crosses. He let his defenders get on with it. I don't know what has happened to Ayew and Sigurdsson, Routledge didn't do much. Swansea cannot afford to go into the bottom three, this is not a fighting side. In midfield there is no aggression. The days of Laudrup where it was all pass and move are long gone. Too much comes through the middle. Southampton tend to be efficient. The back three are very solid.
Swansea: Fabianski (6), Rangel (6), Fernandez (6), Williams (6), Taylor (6), Britton (6), Cork (6), Ayew (5), Sigurdsson (6), Routledge (5), Paloschi (6).
Subs: Naughton (5), Barrow (6), Gomis (5).
Southampton: Forster (7), van Dijk (8), Fonte (7), Bertrand (7), Ward-Prowse (6), Clasie (7), Romeu (6), Targett (6), Steven Davis (7), Long (7), Pelle (6).
Subs: Cedric Soares (6), Yoshida (6), Austin (6).
Man of the match: Virgil van Dijk.