Swans soar again after 30-year wait
Swansea City 3 West Ham United 0: Ugly ducklings who almost slipped out of the League are now scaling the heights under Laudrup
The Liberty Stadium
Sunday 26 August 2012
Michael Laudrup's Swansea created their own slice of history by briefly reaching the summit of England's top division for the first time in 30 years. First-half strikes from Spaniards Angel Rangel and Michu set the Welsh club on their way to a second successive League win against newly promoted West Ham; Danny Graham added a third after the break as Swansea emulated John Toshack's class of 1982.
Chelsea overcame Newcastle United 2-0 in the tea-time Premier League clash to returned to the top, but even the fact that Swansea – who almost dropped out of the Football League only for a last-day escape against Hull City nine years ago – reached the top of the pile, albeit for a couple of hours, is quite some achievement.
Laudrup said: "It's great for the supporters [to be top of the League], and they can enjoy the win and performance tonight. They can have emotions and dreams, but for us who work, we cannot permit ourselves to dream. We have to live in the reality. We've played two games, got six points and scored eight goals. I'm very happy, but we move on to next week."
Following the stunning 5-0 opening day success at QPR, it was a case of one in and one out for Swansea as Scott Sinclair is on the verge of joining Manchester City in a £6million deal after the winger was left out of Laudrup's 18-man squad.Laudrup added: "There has been a lot going on with Scott in the last three or four days. I spoke to him and we both agreed it was best he did not participate. We will see what happens, but as far as I know he is still here."
But club-record signing Ki Sung-Yueng was paraded to the Liberty Stadium crowd before kick-off after the South Korean sealed his £5.5 million move from Celtic.
West Ham have also been busy in the transfer market and new £10.75m ace Matt Jarvis made his League debut. The ex-Wolves winger cost almost the same price as Swansea's entire team but he proved to be a sideshow for the Hammers who adopted their typically physical approach under manager Sam Allardyce. The visitors came to south Wales attempting to ruffle the Swans in the early stages but all they achieved was a clash of heads between Mohamed Diame and Winston Reid.
Swansea repelled the aerial bombardment in the opening 20 minutes before breaking the deadlock through the unlikely source of Rangel. Michu and Nathan Dyer combined in midfield before the pint-sized winger sent the full-back clear inside George McCartney.
Rangel burst towards the byline and his cross-cum-shot was diverted into his own net by 37-year-old goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to leave the Swansea fans singing, 'Top of the League and we're having a laugh' It took only nine minutes for the noise levels to increase as goal-scoring sensation Michu doubled the lead.
The Spaniard bagged a brace at Loftus Road and scored his third goal of the campaign after capitalising on a horrible error by Welshman James Collins. The centre-back's sloppy back-pass was seized upon by the ex-Rayo Vallecano midfielder who flicked the ball with the outside of his left boot beyond Jaaskelainen. Swansea almost made it three on 37 minutes as Jaaskelainen tipped over Neil Taylor's effort following an incisive pass from Wayne Routledge.
West Ham searched for a way back into the match before the break but Carlton Cole saw his header cleared off the line by ex-Hammers trainee Leon Britton and Allardyce introduced striker Ricardo Vaz Te at the interval in a bid to stem the tide.
Graham shaved the post in the 56th minute after another fine run by Dyer before he sealed an emphatic victory eight minutes later from close-range on the end of Routledge's cross.
West Ham boss Allardyce said: "We have been punished severely by two errors from our goalkeeper and centre-back who are our most experienced players."
Swansea (4-3-3): Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Taylor (Davies 84); Britton, de Guzman (Agustien 75), Michu; Dyer, Graham, Routledge (Moore 81).
West Ham (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Reid, McCartney; Tomkins (Vaz Te 46); Nolan, Noble, Diame (Diarra 70), Jarvis; Cole (Maiga 62).
Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
Man of the match: Nathan Dyer (Swansea)
Match rating: 8/10
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