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Swansea City 2 v 0 Norwich City
SkyBet Championship
Friday, 5th February 2021 Kick-off 20:15
Swansea City dominate Norwich and go second in the league. Match report & watch the goals.
Saturday, 6th Feb 2021 09:00 by Keith Haynes & Steph Thomas

A confident and well drilled display from Steve Cooper’s swans has seen his side move in to second and the automatic promotion places in the championship, and only two points behind Norwich City with a game in hand.

A compact and professional performance is one way to explain the swans against Norwich City, however there was far more to their display on a cold Liberty night. Surprisingly Cooper included Kyle Naughton back from suspension but the decision was proven the right one as he and the defensive five kept Norwich to snatched attempts at goal. Marc Guehi pushing in to a more advanced role when in attack freed up Grimes and Hourihane to complicate Norwich City’s defensive decision making. This was just one tactic in a superbly implemented display by the swans which confirmed Cooper’s resilience in strategic know how as we featured earlier on this week on Swansea Independent. Grimes had a volley blocked shortly before Hourihane's goal-bound strike from Connor Roberts' long throw-in was superbly blocked by Max Aarons as Swansea really turned the screw.

The opener came from the Roberts corner which followed, as Krul came to claim and spilled the ball to Guehi. He laid it off to Jake Bidwell and his mishit effort fell to Ayew, who shot on the turn and found the bottom corner. Norwich almost produced an immediate response as Grant Hanley met Przemyslaw Placheta's free-kick with a firm header, but Freddie Woodman's smart save ensured Swansea were ahead at the break.

Ayew celebrates after scoring Swansea’s first goal against Norwich

It seemed to be an eye opener for the watching match day commentators and summarisers, both on the tv and radio as they marvelled at the swans defensive form and quick passing movement going forwards. Hourihane finding his players easily with numerous passes and Ayew as ever strong and committed in the tackle, and when receiving the ball. Jamal Lowe too ran his socks off and gave the Norwich defence a troublesome time. He could have scored in the first half linking play cleverly with Connor Roberts, and in the second he was pivotal to the win tirelessly chasing down the Norwich defence when in possession.

Jamal Lowe again was committed in a selfless forward role

Norwich City did show some intent after the break but the swans defence was resolute, winning second balls and building momentum through the midfield as Jay Fulton showed once again why he is so well thought of by the staff and fans at the club. He is also beginning to catch the eye as well throughout the league. His running and link play with Ayew and Roberts playing clever triangle passes demoralised the Norwich defence again as they did in the first half. It was only a matter of time. Norwich were pegged back even further in stunning fashion as Hourihane drilled a shot beyond Krul from 25 yards out as Swansea doubled their lead three minutes after the restart. It was a stunning strike from Hourihane and the ball fzzed across the surface in to the back of Krul’s net. It was unstoppable.

Fulton is the type of player watchers of the game rarely note, but his value to this side is extremely high. His ability to get in to the box and score as we saw against Rotherham and also his persistence in getting by defenders was evident again. On two occasions he found himself in the Norwich area but his final pass was found lacking. Of all the players in the squad this season he has become the most reliable and improved. Testament to him and his hard working ethic.

Jay Fulton, the catalyst for much of Swansea’s forward play

Jordan Morris saw more game time as he was introduced for Jamal Lowe for the closing fifteen minutes, and maybe there is something to note here. He has come in to a very successful side this season, his game time will be limited, and his understanding of the Swansea way and how it is implemented - that will take a while. That was clear in the 79th minute when Ayew called for more support and positioning after Morris failed to get on to a well won header. That aside his impact was immediate too, after another superb pass from Hourihane, first Roberts was brought down just outside the area, then Morris bundled to the ground inside the penalty area. Both were clear fouls, the latter a clear penalty. Referee Hooper who had a good game up until then waved the appeals away. After that Steve Cooper had a talking to by the referee, and warned about his objections. You could understand why Cooper was so animated, a clearer penalty you will not see this season.

Roberts is bundled to the floor just before a clear penalty was denied by referee Hooper

Try as they might the canaries huffed and puffed their way to full time, chances that were created resulted in two blazing shots over the bar, and when they did breach the swans defence Woodman was there to tidy up. Marshalled again by Bennett with a totally committed Bidwell and Guehi it seemed Norwich would need the rest of the day to get the goal they desired. That’s three games in the league now they have failed to score and sixteen games where the swans have not conceded. No Swansea side has done that before at this stage of the season, and conceding only fifteen goals is again a club record. Testament to hard work, belief, commitment, confidence and a true desire to win. Cooper has mentioned numerous times of the squads buy in to his management and coaching. This display against Norwich was clear evidence. This side is committed to each other, they have a wonderful spirit off the pitch, and will fight to the bitter end on it.

Norwich City were dominated in this game both tactically and in commitment, yes that word again. So much so their frustration became evident as the second half moved on. There was absolutely nothing they could do to break down the swans defence, and when on the attack they did live on their nerves as the swans calmly moved them round the last third cleverly. This was clear to see and would have pleased Cooper and Marsh to see their in game strategy on display.

A frustrating night for Norwich City

When the sides met at Carrow Road and Norwich earned a 1-0 late win there was little if anything between the sides. Cooper was visibly disappointed after that game but after this home encounter he was clearly delighted. ‘ We can’t put too much pressure on these boys’ he said after the win. ‘ There’s teams far below us who are better resourced than we are, that’s why we have our feet on the ground’

Conor Hourihane backed up the players feelings ‘I’m not the only one here, we have some wonderful players with bags of experience, listen Ayew, Kyle are fantastic in training and on the pitch. I’ve bought in to this, yes I’m surprised to have scored three goals in three but listen, this is a team effort, I’m loving it’

Matt Grimes and Steve Cooper post match v Norwich City

Swansea City Woodman; Naughton, Bennett, Guehi; Roberts, Grimes (C), Hourihane, Fulton, Bidwell; Ayew, Lowe (Morris 75).

Subs not used: Hamer, Freeman, Latibeaudiere, Cabango, Manning, Dhanda, O Cooper, Whittaker.

Goals: Ayew 42, Hourihane 48

Yellow cards: Bennett 64, Guehi 68, Woodman 84

Norwich City Krul; Aarons, Hanley (C), Gibson, Sorensen; Rupp (Vrancic 57), Skipp (Idah 57); Cantwell, McLean, Placheta (Hernandez 57); Pukki.

Subs not used: Barden, Zimmermann, Dowell, Mumba, Tettey, Giannoulis.

Yellow cards: Idah 67, Vrancic 78

Referee: Simon Hooper

See the goals that saw the swans beat Norwich 2-0 here

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judgejonevs added 10:09 - Feb 6
The Norwich message board is in meltdown.

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