Team: Green, Onuoha, Dunne, Caulker, Suk-Young, Henry, Barton (Hoilett), Vargas, Kranjcar, Fer, Austin.
Subs Not Used: McCarthy, Isla, Ferdinand, Mutch, Phillips, Zamora.
Attendance: 20,145 (including 609 R’s fans)
The goals were a long time coming but Swansea eventually broke QPR’s spirited resistance after 78 minutes as Ki Sung-yueng and Wayne Routledge delivered a deserved victory which lifts them into the top six in the Premier League.
Garry Monk, the manager described it as “our most complete performance of the season”, adding: “We’ve got the best points total we’ve had at this stage of the season since we’ve been in the Premier League and myself, the staff and the players are very proud of the way we are working and what we are trying to achieve.”
Rangers were competitive until the closing stages, with Robert Green and Richard Dunne outstanding, but they are still without an away point this season and increasingly it seems that, if they are to avoid relegation, the results will have to come at Loftus Road.
The two teams arrived on the back of contrasting results at the weekend, when Swansea were disappointed that they could only draw at home to Crystal Palace while QPR were greatly encouraged by their victory over Leicester, which lifted them off the bottom of the table.
Harry Redknapp, however, knows his charges need to improve their away form if they are to survive.
Both managers made changes. Monk recalled the metronome they call Leon Britton in midfield in place of Jonjo Shelvey, who handed Palace their equaliser on Saturday as well as spurning an open goal. Also “rested” was Angel Rangel, whose right-back position went to Jazz Richards.
Redknapp re-instated Dunne in central defence, to the exclusion of Mauricio Isla. The veteran’s strength was needed to combat the power game that has made Wilfried Bony the leading scorer in the league during this calendar year and his performance entirely justified his return.
“Richard defends for his life and he’ll always give you everything”, Redknapp said. Nedum Onuoha, switched to right-back for this game, is a centre-half by trade and inclination, and Swansea’s left-winger Jefferson Montero, regularly beat him on the outside.
One of the Ecuadorian’s crosses culminated in a miss-hit shot from Gylfi Sigurdsson, which had Green scrambling to his right. Green was also extended in keeping out the dangerous near-post header with which Kyle Bartley met Sigurdsson’s corner from the right and again in repelling the Icelander’s well-directed free kick.
For a long time it was a case of d√©j√† vu for Swansea and their supporters, whose frustration for most of the game was a hangover from Saturday. QPR might even had burgled the lead before half-time, Leroy Fer meeting Niko Kranjcar’s cross six yards out with a header which Lukasz Fabianski did well to keep out.
Dunne fully vindicated his selection when twice in a minute he tackled Bony well inside the penalty area, preventing an almost certain goal on each occasion and for the second time in four days the Liberty crowd, usually so vocal with their hymns and arias, fell into an apprehensive silence.
Green pipped Dunne for the man-of-the-match honours and twice in quick succession the former England goalkeeper called to mind his peak years in thwarting Bony.
When relief came for Monk and company it arrived at the double. First Ki easily evaded Onuoha before driving left-footed across Green and in via the keeper’s left-hand upright.
Then five minutes later Routledge doubled the margin, accepting the substitute Nathan Dyer’s centre and scoring from a central position 20 yards out, his shot nestling into Green’s right corner.
“We were close to hanging on but couldn’t quite do it”, Redknapp said. “Robert Green was in great form tonight and when you get to 0-0 with 15 minutes to go you think you might even nick a result. But Swansea are a good team and for the promoted clubs, like us, the Premier League is a big step up.”
Of QPR’s dire away form he said: “The seven away games have all been against teams in the top half of the table and they’ve all been hard.”
He is hoping for respite, and three points, when Burnley visit on Saturday.
Joe Lovejoy – The Guardian