If at first you don’t succeed, then take a leaf out of Bafetimbi Gomis’s book. Until the 87th minute, the big French striker had done everything to suggest that Swansea City were still missing the departed Wilfried Bony, who scored his first goal for Manchester City earlier.
To his credit, Gomis put a series of missed chances behind him as he buried Jefferson Montero’s cross to give Swansea victory late on. It was a superbly worked goal as Wayne Routledge span the ball behind the Villa full-back, Leandro Bacuna, for the impressive Montero to race away and tee up Gomis for his first goal since he fainted in a game at Tottenham Hotspur 18 days ago.
Gomis had earlier missed four presentable opportunities – two in each half – but his manager, Garry Monk, praised his effort. He said: “He’d have been disappointed not to take a couple of his earlier chances but it typified the character of the team what he did in the second half. He persevered, he kept pushing and got his goal in the end. He deserved that.”
While Swansea rose to eighth in the Premier League – and on course for their best top-flight finish since 1982 – it brought Villa back to earth. Tim Sherwood’s men had begun yesterday looking to complete a hat-trick of league wins for the first time since 2010, but this result kept them just three points above the bottom three.
A subdued Sherwood, whose team must visit the two Manchester clubs and Tottenham in April, said: “When we won 4-0 [at Sunderland] everyone was jumping up and down but we knew there was a lot of hard work to be done.
Villa were second-best for long stretches in the opening period as Swansea’s midfield diamond dominated. Gomis saw an early attempt blocked by Alan Hutton and was denied by Brad Guzan – while Routledge had a goalbound shot stopped by Ciaran Clark.
Although Christian Benteke was hampered by a hip problem, Villa might have had a goal straight after the restart when Scott Sinclair failed to connect with Charles N’Zogbia’s cross. With Gabriel Agbonlahor later foiled by Neil Taylor’s block and Sinclair volleying over, Sherwood felt they “deserved a point”.
He said: “[Swansea] were better in the first period but in the second we looked more likely to score. But there comes a time when if you’re looking like not winning, you have to make sure you don’t lose it.”
Monk’s decision to send on the lively Montero proved pivotal to the outcome.
“Jefferson’s contribution was fantastic,” Monk said. “It was a great ball for the goal.”
For Gomis, it was reward for sheer persistence.
Aston Villa: (4-4-2) Guzan; Bacuna, Okore, Clark, Hutton; N’Zogbia (Westwood, 68), Cleverley (Sanchez, 25), Delph, Sinclair; Agbonlahor, Benteke (Weimann, 75).
Swansea: (4-4-1-1) Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Cork, Ki, Shelvey (Dyer, 85), Sigurdsson (Montero, 64); Routledge; Gomis (Oliveira, 90).
Referee: Robert Madley.
Man of match: Cork (Swansea)
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content