Ben Davies scored his first senior goal for Swansea as Michael Laudrup’s men produced the perfect dress rehearsal for their League Cup semi-final second leg here against Chelsea on Wednesday night with a 2-0 advantage from the away leg.
They go into that fixture following this comprehensive win over stubborn Stoke City.
After a lifeless opening first period, left-back Davies set Swansea on their way with a terrific individual effort on 49 minutes, starting the move with a pass inside to Wayne Routledge before latching onto Ki Sung-Yueng’s through ball seconds later. The 19-year-old outmuscled Jon Walters, raced past Ryan Shawcross and sweetly struck his left-footed shot beyond Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to open his Swansea account.
Laudrup, Swansea’s manager, said: “I obviously did not expect the first goal to come from a run from the full-back, and if it had I thought it would have been the other full-back [Angel Rangel] so it is great for Ben. He deserved everything for what he is doing and this will be a very special day for him.”
After Davies’ first Swansea goal, Jonathan de Guzman bagged a double in the space of 23 minutes before Stoke striker Michael Owen broke his 15-month goal drought deep in injury-time. Yet that close-range header was scant consolation as Laudrup beamed over the ideal preparation before taking on Rafa Benitez’s star-studded outfit.
His only cause for concern is Chico Flores, who missed the yesterday’s match, and faces a race against time to be fit for the semi-final. The Spanish centre-back was injured in the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal last Wednesday, and Laudrup admits he can only be hopeful that Chico will be ready to take onChelsea.
“He has a knee injury and I did not want to take the risk,” Laudrup said, “because I knew Garry [Monk] or Kyle [Bartley] would do well in the type of games. I think he will be ready but I am not 100 per cent.”
Of Swans’ comfortable win, Laudrup said: “Winning and no injuries is always the perfect preparation. It was a very good performance and we dominated from the first minute. Stoke had to defend very deep and the only bad point of the first half was we did not score from the two or three good chances we had, but apart from that I was pleased. In the second half we continued but I knew we needed something special to score the first goal as if we scored the first goal I was sure we would win. The second goal was a fantastic free-kick, I have seen Jonathan score a lot of these goals in training so it is nice to see it in a game and the third was the best of the afternoon.
Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, had no complaints following the drubbing as the Potters conceded 13 goals in their last four Premier League matches. “We were second best from the first whistle to the last,” Pulis said. “Swansea were better and deserved to win. I’ve got no excuses. You have good and bad days in football and this was a bad day for us. We looked a yard short all over the pitch. We looked sluggish and sloppy. Whether it’s the fact we played Palace in extra-time and had to travel down early and not been able to do anything for two days because of the snow, I don’t know. We weren’t at the races, that wasn’t us.”
Danny Graham and Kenwyne Jones have been linked with January moves, but both strikers started on the bench. Swansea had a £3million bid rejected for Jones last week and Pulis claims he wants the forward to remain at the Britannia.
Swansea (4-4-2): Vorm; Rangel, Monk, Williams, Davies; Ki, De Guzman, Michu (Britton, 77), Routledge; Hernandez (Lamah, 63), Schechter (Graham, 73)
Stoke (4-5-1): Begovic; Whitehead, Huth, Shawcross, Cameron; Walters, N’Zonzi, Whelan, Adam (Jerome, 63), Etherington (Owen, 85); Crouch (Jones, 63)).
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the match: Davies (Swansea)
Match rating: 7/10