Life has been just perfect for Swansea City of late. After winning their first trophy a fortnight ago, they reached the 40-point mark in the Premier League last week and on Friday saw their much-coveted manager, Michael Laudrup, sign a contract extension until 2015. If that all seemed too good to be true, they were brought down to earth yesterday on an afternoon when it seemed that perhaps Lady Luck had decided enough was enough.
Laudrup's Capital One Cup winners saw this contest decided by a combination of Jonathan de Guzman's slapstick own goal and a controversial decision by the referee, Lee Mason, to annul substitute Roland Lamah's late equaliser for offside, when the touch that set him up had come from a West Bromwich defender.
When Lamah played a ball into the home six-yard box it struck Gareth McAuley and bounced off Ben Foster before rolling back to the Belgian international to score. Cue a frustrated Laudrup asking the reasonable question: "How on earth can you disallow the goal when the ball comes off an opponent? It is like giving an offside from a throw-in. Everyone knows you cannot be offside if the ball comes from an opponent, and in this case it is coming from two – the defender to the goalkeeper and back on to Roland."
Laudrup felt an equaliser would have ensured a fair outcome and it was hard to disagree. Swansea controlled much of the first half, with Michu swerving a shot inches wide before Luke Moore struck against his old club after 33 minutes. The Dutchman De Guzman swung over a corner and Moore, despite Claudio Yacob's close attentions, sent a back-header inside the far post.
Albion responded with Romelu Lukaku's 13th goal of the season before half-time, the 19-year-old Belgian sweeping home Graham Dorrans's low cross at the near post. Lukaku's finishing was less assured early in the second half when Mason penalised Wayne Routledge's trip on James Morrison, the Chelsea loanee's spot-kick lacking the power to trouble Michel Vorm. Instead the winner that lifted Albion up to seventh place came in fortuitous fashion as Angel Rangel nodded McAuley's header off the line only for the ball to hit De Guzman and rebound in. For Swansea more bad luck would follow but Steve Clarke, West Bromwich's manager, was not complaining after a third Premier League win in their past four. "We got a lucky break," he said, "but when you put in the effort, the energy, the quality we put into the game, we earned that break."