Swansea City's previous win outside of Wales, against Reading at Wembley last May, swept them into the Premier League. Their first away victory this season underlined what a credit they are to the so-called best league in the world. Aston Villa's manager, Alex McLeish called the result "a kick in the teeth" following his team's triumph at Chelsea on New Year's Eve.
Even after seven changes to the side that drew with Tottenham, Swansea carried too much poise, precision and fluidity for a one-dimensional Villa team who relied on set-pieces. Making nonsense of the top flight's worst away record, they struck early in each half, with the wingers, Nathan Dyer and the former Villa player Wayne Routledge, doing the damage.
Villa's fifth defeat in six home games left McLeish in sombre mood. "It's unbelievable. Frightening," he said. "The confidence and morale were really high after the weekend but we've shot ourselves in the foot, especially against a team like Swansea who keep the ball really well. It's so disappointing to see us take three positive steps forward then take a backward step like that. You can't give away goals like we did but we never had the inspiration."
Swansea had lost all previous seven league fixtures at Villa by a 19-0 goal aggregate, a fact Brendan Rodgers noted in his verdict. "It was a wonderful performance and result for us," the manager said. "I made the changes to maintain the energy and enthusiasm and I thought my players were brilliant. Everything that is good in our game was evident.
"We spoke on Sunday night about the need for greater commitment and steel [away from the Liberty Stadium] and we got it."
Villa failed to force a save worthy of the description from Michel Vorm, the closest they came to scoring being when Charles N'Zogbia volleyed against the upright with the game's last kick. However, for all Swansea's assurance in possession – epitomised by the Ossie Ardiles-like Leon Britton in midfield – it took a gift from Villa's Stephen Warnock to get them up and running when Dyer beat Brad Guzan from 16 yards.
Villa, booed off at half-time, needed to restart on the front foot but their deficit was soon doubled. Guzan's kick flew to Britton, who released Routledge to leave Carlos Cuellar trailing.
When the cross was scuffed against the post by Danny Graham, Routledge despatched a diagonal shot into the far corner for his first Premier League goal.
Substitutes: Aston Villa Hutton 4 (Cuellar, 55), Albrighton 6 (Ireland, 68), Bannan (Clark, 85). Swansea City Allen 5 (Orlandi, 58), Sinclair (Dyer, 78).
Booked: Aston Villa Collins, Dunne. Swansea City Caulker, Agustien, Orlandi, Vorm.
Man of the match Dyer.
Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Aston Villa 49% Swansea City 51%.
Attempts on target: Aston Villa 2 Swansea City 4.
Referee A Taylor (Cheshire). Attendance 35,642.