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Phew! Relief for Lambert after ending three game losing streak with "huge point" at Swansea despite conceding late equaliser

Phew! Relief for Lambert after ending three game losing streak with 'huge point' at Swansea despite conceding late equaliser

By
Andrew Gwilym, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

20:26 GMT, 1 January 2013

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UPDATED:

00:39 GMT, 2 January 2013

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert described his side's 2-2 draw at Swansea as a huge point, despite seeing them denied all three by Danny Graham's injury-time equaliser.

The Villans had conceded 15 and scored none in their previous three games and Wayne Routledge added to their woes as he fired the hosts ahead in the ninth minute.

But relegation-threatened Villa had looked set to take the points when Andreas Weimann levelled just before the interval and Christian Benteke scored from the spot when Nathan Dyer conceded an 84th-minute penalty for a foul on Weimann.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert needs to improve things on the pitch

Under pressure: Lambert's side are just one point off the relegation zone after Swansea's stoppage time goal

However, Graham fired home a rebound in a late goalmouth scramble, to leave Lambert with his head in his hands.

A point at least ends Villa's miserable run of defeats and, despite the crushing disappointment, Lambert feels he can take great heart from a gutsy effort by a side with an average age of just 23 years and 119 days – making it the youngest the club had ever fielded in a Premier League fixture.

Villa players react as they concede an equalizer

Gutted: Villa players were left dejected after conceding in the 94th minute

He said: 'It is a huge point although we should have seen it through. But it's a massive point and we were very good and threatening in the second half.

'In the first half they were coming at us from all angles and we had to weather that storm and we needed a couple of good saves from Brad and they also hit the woodwork.

'But to get the goal before half-time certainly helped us and it had a galvanising effect, it gives you something to get going and in the second half we were very good.

'We have been beaten heavily in the last three games so this is a huge point for the future of the club.

'The young lads in the side have been excellent and when you get beaten heavily you learn a lot about people and today showed they are mentally strong.'

Looking up: Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring the second goal for Aston Villa from the penalty spot

Looking up: Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring the second goal for Villa from the penalty spot

Injury-hit Villa, already without the likes of Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N'Zogbia, Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker and Richard Dunne, also lost Ashley Westwood to an ankle problem after he was felled from behind by Michu's clumsy tackle.

And Lambert will wait before assessing how severe the problem is.

He said: 'He is hobbling at the minute but we will see how he feels. We think it is his ankle.'

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, meanwhile, was left scratching his head as to how his side had not won a game in which they had almost 70 per cent possession and had threatened to run away with during an opening half-hour when Villa were all at sea.

Michu, Graham and Routledge were among those to miss gilt-edged chances, and the Dane said: 'We did not win because we only scored one goal from seven chances with that first-half performance.

Danny Graham celebrates after scoring the late equalizer for Swansea

All Smiles: Graham wheels away after scoring the last minute goal

aston

'It was a great performance – it could have been 4-0 after 12 minutes – but we know how it is when you don't take chances.

'It means one mistake, one free-kick, one corner or whatever it is and the game is back level, and that is what happened at the end of the first half.

'They had only been near our goal two or three times in the first 45 minutes and we gave Villa belief they could come from behind and get something out of the game.

'If we had got a second or third we would maybe be sitting here talking about a 5-0 win.'

Laudrup was also disappointed his side were not awarded a penalty just before the hour mark.

Joe Bennett was penalised for handball on the left-side of his own area as he blocked Angel Rangel.

But referee Mark Halsey only awarded Swansea a free-kick on the edge of the box when the ball had appeared to strike Bennett just inside.

When asked if he thought it was a penalty, Laudrup said: 'Yeah of course, both of his feet are on the line and the hand is inside, I think the line is still part of the box so there was no doubt about it.

'It was a clear penalty but it was not given and that's that, we have to go on.'

Swansea 1 Manchester United 1 – Match report

Swansea 1 Manchester United 1: Reds frustrated as Michu's goal gives Swans share of the points

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UPDATED:

16:13 GMT, 23 December 2012

Manchester United missed the chance to extend their lead in the title race to six points as Michu came out on top in the battle of the Barclays Premier League's top scorers at the Liberty Stadium.

Patrice Evra had given United the lead in the 16th minute as he headed home from a Robin van Persie corner.

But Swansea continued their good record against the top-flight big guns as Michu finished from close range to move clear of Van Persie with his 13th league goal of the season.

Flat out: Michu makes it 1-1 as goalkeeper David de Gea lies on the ground

Flat out: Michu makes it 1-1 as goalkeeper David de Gea lies on the ground

Match facts:

Swansea: Vorm, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, Dyer, Britton (Ki 62), Agustien (Shechter 88), De Guzman (Moore 71), Routledge, Michu.

Subs not used: Tremmel, Graham, Monk, Richards.

Goal: Michu 29

Booked: De Guzman, Williams

Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Evans, Vidic, Evra, Valencia (Hernandez 62), Carrick, Cleverley (Scholes 86), Young, Rooney (Giggs 78), van Persie.

Subs not used: Lindegaard, Welbeck, Fletcher, Buttner.

Goal: Evra 16

Booked: Jones, Rooney, Van Persie, Scholes

Referee: Michael Oliver

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United will hold a four-point lead over Manchester City at Christmas but will be left to rue a series of missed chances during the final half hour when they piled the pressure on their hosts.

Swansea felt they had shown United too much respect during this fixture last season but, after a slow start, they showed little sign of being overawed as they took the game to the visitors.

Dwight Tiendalli flashed a threatening ball across the six-yard box before Kemy Agustien freed Michu with a superb long ball, but the Spaniard sliced high and wide.
David De Gea easily saved weak efforts from Wayne Routledge and Michu, but United halted the hosts' building momentum as they took the lead.

Wayne Rooney had already warmed Michel Vorm's hands with a stinging drive before Evra put the visitors ahead, arriving to glance a header in off the far post from a Van Persie corner.

But Swansea recovered well from the blow and Jonathan de Guzman had the ball in the net two minutes later, but the effort was ruled out for Michu blocking off Jonny Evans as the midfielder advanced.

All square: Michu scores the equiliser for Swansea

All square: Michu scores the equiliser for Swansea

Levelling up: Michu celebrates making it 1-1 just before the half hour mark

Levelling up: Michu celebrates making it 1-1 just before the half hour mark

The Liberty Stadium faithful were further angered when Phil Jones was given only a yellow card for a clumsy lunge on Ben Davies, although replays suggested referee Michael Oliver had got the decision right.

But it was United who felt they had been victims of an injustice as Michu levelled on the half hour mark.
Evra was caught out by De Guzman's clever run and when De Gea could only parry the Dutchman's angled shot, Michu was on hand to tap in.

Not going to plan: Wayne Rooney , Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick look on after Swansea level the scores

Not going to plan: Wayne Rooney , Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick look on after Swansea level the scores

Sir Alex Ferguson was visibly angered that Van Persie was not awarded a free-kick after he and Chico Flores went to ground following the Spaniard's challenge seconds before the equaliser, and the United boss made his feelings known to referee Oliver at the break.

The goal added an extra bite to Swansea's play and they had the better of the remainder of the opening half.
De Guzman and Routledge were becoming increasingly influential for the hosts and the former should have done better after working his way into the United box on the byline, only to shoot straight at De Gea with several team-mates well placed.

High riser: Patrice Evra heads United into the lead

High riser: Patrice Evra heads United into the lead

Head boy: Patrice Evra watches his header go in the back of the net

Head boy: Patrice Evra watches his header go in the back of the net

Goal rush: Evra celebrates scoring his third goal of the season

Goal rush: Evra celebrates scoring his third goal of the season

But United offered a remainder of their quality in first half stoppage time when Evra easily got past Nathan Dyer and intelligently pulled the ball back to Rooney, but the England forward fired directly at Vorm.

The second half started at a furious pace and there were chances for both sides.

Michu again headed over and De Gea had to stand firm to repel Routledge's close-range strike.

Body on the line: Ashley Williams gets across to block Wayne Rooney's shot

Body on the line: Ashley Williams gets across to block Wayne Rooney's shot

At the other end Ashley Williams made two superb blocks to stop goalbound efforts from Rooney and Ashley Young after Swansea twice surrendered possession cheaply.

United were finally exerting some authority and Van Persie came close to putting them back in front as he cleverly diverted a Rooney cross goalwards, only to see his effort cannon away off the bar.

Substitute Javier Hernandez wasted another presentable chance as he failed to control Van Persie's astute pass and Vorm gratefully held the Mexican's deflected strike.

Looking for his man: Ashley Young prepares to cross the ball

Looking for his man: Ashley Young prepares to cross the ball

Off target: Williams again gets in the way, this time to stop Van Persie

Off target: Williams again gets in the way, this time to stop Van Persie

Protecting the ball: Nathan Dyer fends off the challenge of Evra

Protecting the ball: Nathan Dyer fends off the challenge of Evra

Worse was to follow for United when Rooney dispossessed Chico Flores but allowed the defender to get back and intercept a slack pass which should have given Hernandez an easy finish, much to the fury of his manager.

Tempers flared as United frustrations grew. Van Persie was struck on the head by a Williams clearance after being brought down on the edge of the box leading to some pushing and shoving and a booking apiece for the central protagonists.

Head case: Williams lashes the ball against the neck of floored United striker Van Persie

Head case: Williams lashes the ball against the neck of floored United striker Van Persie

Pulled apart: Williams and Van Persie had to be separated by their team-mates

Pulled apart: Williams and Van Persie had to be separated by their team-mates

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

Swansea were by now under incessant pressure.

Vorm tipped a Carrick header against the bar while Van Persie and Young were denied by blocks from Williams and Davies, although there was a suspicion of handball about the latter, as Swansea held out.

Wayne Rooney must score more – Sir Alex Ferguson

On the Wayne: Rooney needs to increase his goal tally, says Ferguson

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UPDATED:

22:43 GMT, 30 November 2012

Goal-shy: Rooney is facing one of his worst droughts

Goal-shy: Rooney is facing one of his worst droughts

Sir Alex Ferguson has challenged Wayne Rooney to rediscover his goalscoring form after one of the striker’s worst starts to a season.

Rooney has scored only three goals in 14 games for United, including a penalty. It is his poorest return at this stage of the campaign in his nine seasons at Old Trafford, except for two years ago when he was distracted by the contract crisis that almost saw him leave the club.

Indeed, by this time last year, Rooney had already racked up 12 goals — the same amount Robin van Persie has scored so far in his first season at United. In fairness to Rooney, Van Persie’s arrival has forced him to play a deeper role and the England striker has responded by contributing six assists in the Premier League. But Ferguson reminded him yesterday that he has to improve his goal return as well.

Challenge: Ferguson has told Rooney to up his game

Challenge: Ferguson has told Rooney to up his game

England's goalden flops

WAYNE ROONEY is not the only England striker struggling for goals. A
look at the list of top English scorers in the Barclays Premier League
proves that some of the biggest names have failed to fire this season.

TOP ENGLISH SCORERS

Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 7
Rickie Lambert (Southampton) 6
Kevin Nolan (West Ham) 5
Peter Crouch (Stoke) 4
Wayne Routledge (Swansea) 4
Theo Walcott (Arsenal) 4
Grant Holt (Norwich) 3
Frank Lampard (Chelsea) 3
Bobby Zamora (QPR) 3
Nathan Dyer (Swansea) 3
Steve Sidwell (Fulham) 3
Adam Le Fondre (Reading) 3

OTHER STRIKERS CALLED UP BY ENGLAND IN 2012
Darren Bent (Aston Villa) 2
Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 2
Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea) 1
Andy Carroll (West Ham) 1
Danny Welbeck (Man Utd) 1
Fraizer Campbell (Sunderland) 0

‘I’m happy with that part of his game
and he can contribute to the team’s success, fine, but we would rather
he scored more, obviously,’ said the United boss. ‘I think he’s going
through a period that all strikers do. He’s not scoring and it will
change once he starts to score regularly. Wayne is the type of player
who can’t miss games. He’s missed bits of games and he was off with
tonsillitis. With his frame and the type of person he is, he needs to
play all the time.’

Ferguson revealed that Nani could be
sidelined for up to five weeks with a hamstring injury. Antonio Valencia
is also racing to be fit for next weekend’s Manchester derby with the
hip injury that will force him to miss today’s trip to Reading.

There was better news for United as
captain Nemanja Vidic returned to training this week, earlier than
expected following knee surgery. Vidic could even play in Wednesday’s
final Champions League group game against CFR Cluj, although he is
unlikely to be risked at the Etihad Stadium four days later.

Dutch of class: Van Persie has scored 12 goals already this season

Dutch of class: Van Persie has scored 12 goals already this season

‘I wouldn’t be afraid of playing him in the European game,’ said Ferguson, who has also seen central defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones return from long injury layoffs. ‘It’s amazing that we’ve been beset with defensive injuries for quite a long period and, now we’ve got our defenders back, we’ve got two wide players injured.’

He must also decide whether to pick Anders Lindegaard ahead of David de Gea in goal again. Lindegaard has kept De Gea on the bench for the last two games after the Spaniard returned from dental surgery and Ferguson is wary of rotating his keepers too often.

‘I’m not happy to do it all the time,’ he added. ‘I think that creates consistency and that’s why I’ve kept Anders in. I could easily have changed it again but he has done nothing wrong.

‘Hopefully, David understands that; there is no long-term issue. They are both good keepers.’

I"m a celebrity: Scott Sinclair slated as Helen Flanagan does latest bushtucker trial

Pray for Scotty! Man City benchwarmer Sinclair slated on Twitter
while girlfriend Helen Flanagan takes on latest bushtucker trial

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UPDATED:

10:13 GMT, 14 November 2012

I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here

Read Mark Webster's latest update on life in the jungle for David Haye and Eric Bristow

'This has to be the worst time EVER to be Helen Flanagan’s boyfriend', wrote Sportsmail's Mark Webster on Tuesday. He may just have a point.

Step forward Scott Sinclair.

Great Scott: Helen Flanagan slips into a bikini on ITV's I'm a celebrity

Great Scott: Helen Flanagan slips into a bikini on ITV's I'm a celebrity

Great Scott: Helen Flanagan slips into a bikini on ITV's I'm a celebrity

Now I'm sure some of you will struggle to feel sorry for a man earning a reported 60,000-a-week at Manchester City, but while his bikini-clad girlfriend Helen Flanagan is catching the eye of almost every man in the UK on a nightly basis, poor Scott must be hoping she's the next one booted out of the jungle.

Still, the notoriously unsympathetic British public are having none of it. One particular tweet – which earned over 900 re-tweets – read: 'Helen Flanagan has now been picked twice in a row. Which is better than Scott Sinclair has done since joining Man City #PrayForScotty.' Ouch.

Double trouble: Flanagan was picked out for another trial on Tuesday night

Double trouble: Flanagan was picked out for another trial on Tuesday night

Double trouble: Flanagan takes on another trial

Double trouble: Flanagan take on another trial

And if that wasn't enough, what was the
ex-Coronation Street beauty's latest bushtucker trial
No less than a meal of camel's toe and an ostrich's anus. Yes, you read
that right.

Two of his former team-mates at Swansea rubbed salt in the wound as Helen struggled with the delicacies. '#PrayForScotty', posted Wayne Routledge. Leroy Lita added: 'Will you kiss her again @Scotty_Sinclair '

I'm sure he will, Leroy.

Pray for Scotty: Sinclair (left) shares a joke with Gael Clichy in training with Manchester City

Pray for Scotty: Sinclair (left) shares a joke with Gael Clichy in training with Manchester City

Southampton 1 Swansea 1: match report Morgan Schneiderlin Nathan Dyer score

Southampton 1 Swansea 1: Saints off the bottom but Dyer haunts former club

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UPDATED:

17:21 GMT, 10 November 2012

Southampton's under-fire manager Nigel Adkins was denied a much-need victory by Swansea today as another former academy graduate returned to haunt their former club.

Two weeks ago Gareth Bale helped Tottenham to a 2-1 victory at St Mary's, and this afternoon Nathan Dyer came off the bench to deny the south coast club all three points.

Saints came into the game under no illusions of how important it was to pick up a victory, as speculation mounted over the future of manager Adkins.

Comeback kid: Swansea's Nathan Dyer returned to haunt his former club with a second-half equaliser for Swansea

Comeback kid: Swansea's Nathan Dyer returned to haunt his former club with a second-half equaliser for Swansea

MATCH FACTS

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw (Fox 74), Puncheon, Cork, Schneiderlin, Lallana, Lambert, Ramirez. Subs not used: Kelvin Davis, Hooiveld, Steven Davis, Rodriguez, Ward-Prowse, Mayuka.

Booked: Schneiderlin, Lallana.

Goals: Schneiderlin 64.

Swansea: Tremmel, Rangel, Williams, Monk, Davies, Ki, Britton (Shechter 66), De Guzman (Agustien 86), Hernandez, Michu, Routledge (Dyer 56). Subs not used: Cornell, Tate, Moore, Tiendalli.

Booked: Williams, Agustien.

Goals: Dyer 73.

Att: 30,501.

Ref: Andre Marriner.

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The hosts responded in the ideal
manner and, having dominated the first half, continued well after the
break and took a deserved lead through Morgan Schneiderlin.

But, like so many times before this
season, Saints' defence proved their undoing as Maya Yoshida failed to
control a pass from goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, with Dyer nipping in to
collect the ball and fire home to secure a point for the Welsh side.

Adkins named 17-year-old Luke Shaw in
his team for today's game, which saw the left-back become the youngest
ever player to start a Premier League match for Saints.

His appearance came in a match of
grave importance for the hosts, whose fans chanted 'one Nigel Adkins'
from the outset in support of their manager.

The hosts started well and, soon
after Ashley Williams cleared a threatening corner, Schneiderlin blazed
over from the edge of the box.

Saints captain Adam Lallana forced
Gerhard Tremmel into action with a quick turn and strike, before Gaston
Ramirez curled a left-footed effort just wide of the German's right-hand
post from 25 yards.

First up: Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin turns to celebrates after scoring the first goal at St Mary's

First up: Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin turns to celebrates after scoring the first goal at St Mary's

It was an opening brimming with
confidence that belied Southampton's lowly position, although their
defensive weaknesses were soon being exposed.

Only the fine reactions of goalkeeper
Gazzaniga stopped Ki Sung-yeung breaking the deadlock 20 minutes in,
but Garry Monk did well at the other end to stop Puncheon getting a shot
away on the counter.

Under pressure: Southampton manager Nigel Adkins went into the came with his side at the foot of the table

Under pressure: Southampton manager Nigel Adkins went into the came with his side at the foot of the table

Saints were looking the better of the two sides and Ramirez did well to jink into space and fire just wide in the 26th minute.

Schneiderlin and Williams were booked as the match continued, with the latter penalised for clattering in-flight Ramirez.

On the move: Southampton's Jason Puncheon looks to go past Swansea's Ben Davies

On the move: Southampton's Jason Puncheon looks to go past Swansea's Ben Davies

The Uruguay international took the
resulting free-kick, which caught the Swansea defence on the hop as he
floated the ball wide to the unmarked Jose Fonte, whose cutback and shot
were both blocked.

Lallana claimed a penalty against Angel Rangel and then scooped a curled right-foot effort as half-time approached.

Hold up: Southampton striker Rickie Lambert (L) vies with Swansea defender Angel Rangel (R)

Hold up: Southampton striker Rickie Lambert (L) vies with Swansea defender Angel Rangel (R)

The Swansea right-back saw a shot
deflected behind off Yoshida when play resumed for the second half,
before Shaw was caught out for the first time.

The teenager was impressing for Saints but Pablo Hernandez got behind him and cut back, only for Wayne Routledge to place over.

Head boys: Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin (L) loses out to Swansea's Jonathan De Guzman

Head boys: Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin (L) loses out to Swansea's Jonathan De Guzman

The latter was replaced by former Southampton winger Dyer moments later, before Ramirez twice had shots blocked.

The home side were dominating play but dawdling too often in possession in the final third.
Ramirez failed with an attempted scissor kick and then Lallana was
booked for diving when he went down under pressure from Williams.

No way through: Nathaniel Clyne (L) and Jason Puncheon (R) charge down Swansea winger Wayne Routledge

No way through: Nathaniel Clyne (L) and Jason Puncheon (R) charge down Swansea winger Wayne Routledge

The home side's intense pressure soon
told, though, as Lallana swung a ball in from the left and Rickie
Lambert's cushion header was controlled by Schneiderlin.

The French midfielder took the ball
on the run and continued to head past Tremmel to give Adkins' side a
deserved 64th-minute lead.

Making a point: Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup barks out his orders from the touchline

Making a point: Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup barks out his orders from the touchline

Clyne saw a low cross cleared as Southampton pushed for a second, before defensive frailties again cost Adkins' side.

Gazzaniga played the ball out to
Yoshida but the Japan international miscontrolled and Dyer latched on to
the loose ball and fired home off the post.

Stuck in: Adam Lallana gets tangled up in a challenge with Swansea's Angel Rangel

Stuck in: Adam Lallana gets tangled up in a challenge with Swansea's Angel Rangel

The 73rd-minute leveller was met by a
muted celebration by the substitute in respect to his former club, who
returned the attack desperate for a winner.

Lambert nodded agonisingly wide
shortly afterwards and Cork flashed a strike over, before Tremmel caught
a tame header by the former.

Referee Andre Marriner waved away
Lallana's strong penalty appeals in the 85th minute after going down
under pressure from Monk, before Ki saw a shot blocked at the other end
and Yoshida cleared a cross with a last-ditch challenge.

Swansea 1 Chelsea 1: Hernandez seals point for Swans to keep Blues off the top

Swansea 1 Chelsea 1: Hernandez seals point for Swans to keep Blues off the top

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UPDATED:

17:10 GMT, 3 November 2012

Pablo Hernandez struck a late equaliser as Chelsea rounded off another controversial week by losing their place at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

The Blues have been embroiled in the furore over referee Mark Clattenburg's alleged inappropriate comments to John Obi Mikel, but they looked set to claim the spoils when Victor Moses nodded in his first league goal for the club in the 61st minute.

Last gasp: Pablo Hernandez celebrates his equaliser for Swansea

Last gasp: Pablo Hernandez celebrates his equaliser for Swansea

Match facts

Latest Premier League table and results

Swansea looked like they would be made to pay for their inability to craft clear-cut chances during a first half they had the better of, but Hernandez seized on Itay Shechter's pass to fire low beyond Petr Cech with three minutes remaining.

The Welsh side were bursting with confidence after their midweek Capital One Cup win at Anfield, and there was a swagger about their play during a first half they had the better of without really creating a meaningful chance.

Branislav Ivanovic, back from suspension, made a critical early intervention for the Blues to block Angel Rangel's pull back and deny Michu an effort on goal as Swansea started smartly.

It was wingers Wayne Routledge and Hernandez who were at the heart of many of Swansea's best moment and they were involved in a number of fine break-outs, one of which saw Mikel, who turned in a fine performance given the storm he has found himself at the centre of, make a brave block as Ki Sung-yueng fired at goal.

On target: Victor Moses celebrates his goal for Chelsea

On target: Victor Moses celebrates his goal for Chelsea

Chelsea highlighted their threat at the other end as Leon Britton cleared off the line from Fernando Torres' near-post header, which narrowly evaded the incoming Gary Cahill.

Moses' driven cross was then parried by Gerhard Tremmel, making his first Premier League start of the season, who also saved a weak follow up header from Torres.

Game changer: Victor Moses celebrates with Gary Cahill after scoring for Chelsea

Game changer: Victor Moses celebrates with Gary Cahill after scoring for Chelsea

Swansea's assurance in possession grew with Britton and Ki dictating play and Hernandez asking questions of Ashley Cole.

Michu could not connect with a De Guzman header as the hosts had difficulty breaking down a Chelsea backline well-marshalled by Ivanovic.

Hazard warning: Chelsea's Eden Hazard takes the ball past Swansea's Wayne Routledge

Hazard warning: Chelsea's Eden Hazard takes the ball past Swansea's Wayne Routledge

And the Blues slowly grew into the game with Eden Hazard becoming increasingly influential. Ashley Williams was fortunate to escape any sanction when he appeared to force the Belgian over in the box, before the former Lille man freed Torres, only for Williams to get back and make a timely intervention.

Roberto Di Matteo brought on Ramires for the anonymous Oriol Romeu at the break and there was a marked improvement in the visitors' play.

Spot the ball: Swansea's Ben Davies (left) and Chelsea's Cesar Azpilcueta battle for the ball

Spot the ball: Swansea's Ben Davies (left) and Chelsea's Cesar Azpilcueta battle for the ball

Hazard cut inside to get away a low shot that Tremmel held well to his right, before Moses wasted a superb opportunity by heading over from Torres' cross.

Cole's excellent block denied De Guzman at the other end as the game opened up, but Swansea fell behind just after the hour mark.

Eyes on the ball: Chelsea's Fernando Torres and Swansea's Ashley Williams (right) compete

Eyes on the ball: Chelsea's Fernando Torres and Swansea's Ashley Williams (right) compete

Tremmel had saved Hazard's free-kick, but from the resulting corner Moses flicked Cahill's header in off the post.

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup quickly threw on Nathan Dyer and Danny Graham as his side sought an equaliser.

Good result: Swansea boss Michael Laudrup

Good result: Swansea boss Michael Laudrup

Neat interplay between Rangel and Ki ended with Cech gathering a high De Guzman shot, before the keeper tipped over an audacious attempted lob from Dyer.

Swansea pressed as Chelsea looked to preserve their advantage, and a deserved leveller finally came from Hernandez's placed effort before Graham was denied a winner by Cahill's excellent block.

Roberto Di Matteo refuses to blame Mark Clattenburg fall-out for Swansea draw

Di Matteo refuses to blame Clattenburg fall-out for Swansea draw

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UPDATED:

18:59 GMT, 3 November 2012

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo does not believe the Mark Clattenburg affair had an effect on his side's performance in their 1-1 draw with Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.

The Blues have spent the past six days embroiled in the controversy over inappropriate comments referee Clattenburg is alleged to have made to Blues midfielder John Obi Mikel during Sunday's 3-2 defeat to Manchester United.

Last gasp: Pablo Hernandez celebrates his equaliser for Swansea

Last gasp: Pablo Hernandez celebrates his equaliser for Swansea

Match facts

SWANSEA: Tremmel, Rangel, Monk, Williams, Davies, Routledge (Graham 65), Britton (Dyer 65), de Guzman, Ki, Hernandez, Michu (Shechter 79). Subs not used: Cornell, Tate, Tiendalli, Agustien.

Goals: Hernandez 88

Booked: Britton, De Guzman

CHELSEA: Cech, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole, Romeu (Ramires 46), Mikel, Moses (Sturridge 72), Oscar (Bertrand 79), Hazard, Torres. Subs not used: Turnbull, Ferreira, Marin, Piazon.

Goals: Moses 81

Booked: Azpilicueta

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

Att: 20, 527

Chelsea looked set to end a difficult
week with a win thanks to Victor Moses' 61st minute header, but were
denied by Pablo Hernandez's late equaliser, which also ensured Di
Matteo's side surrendered top spot in the Premier League table to
Manchester United.

But the Italian does not feel off-field events were a factor in his side's failure to win.

He said: 'I wouldn't read anything
into what has happened in the last week and the result today. It is very
difficult to win away from home in the Premier League.

'This is our second away draw of the
season – we have won the rest of the games. It is disappointing not to
have hung on to our lead but even when you are not brilliant, you need
to get a result like that.

'It's a long season and it is going to stay very tight at the top. There are a few teams fighting for that.

On target: Victor Moses celebrates his goal for Chelsea

On target: Victor Moses celebrates his goal for Chelsea

'We are in touch and we are going to show how strong we are in the future.'

Di Matteo was pleased to return to
talking about football, particularly with the Clattenburg allegations
following so closely on the back of the John Terry racism scandal; the
England defender served the last of his four-game FA suspension.

And he praised the performance of referee Kevin Friend.

'Talking about the football is how
it's supposed to be week in, week out. Everyone would like it to be this
way, including me,' he said.

Game changer: Victor Moses celebrates with Gary Cahill after scoring for Chelsea

Game changer: Victor Moses celebrates with Gary Cahill after scoring for Chelsea

'I've got to say the officials were
very good. Kevin Friend did very well in the game to keep both teams
calm and let the game flow.

'He didn't have any influence on the game. I congratulated him after the game because they were very good.

'I didn't speak to the players before the game about the referee. Generally our team is very good (with officials).

'There has to be something really out of the ordinary for them to react. In general, we are a fair team.'

Hazard warning: Chelsea's Eden Hazard takes the ball past Swansea's Wayne Routledge

Hazard warning: Chelsea's Eden Hazard takes the ball past Swansea's Wayne Routledge

But Di Matteo did acknowledge the two
thrilling clashes with Manchester United – the league fixture was
followed by the nine-goal Capital One Cup tie in midweek – may have hurt
his side.

He said: 'We have certainly felt (tired) this week after the two games with Manchester United, including extra-time.

'It would have been great to finish off the week with a 1-0 victory. The disappointment is we have conceded a late equaliser.

'I thought we had more of the game and clear chances than Swansea.

Spot the ball: Swansea's Ben Davies (left) and Chelsea's Cesar Azpilcueta battle for the ball

Spot the ball: Swansea's Ben Davies (left) and Chelsea's Cesar Azpilcueta battle for the ball

'When the opposition equalises so late on then you tend to think it's a bit lucky.

'To be honest, they didn't have any real clear chances, but they scored a quality goal.'

Swansea merited a point after having
the better of the opening half and playing with a swagger reminiscent of
their best form of last season, although they struggled to break down a
Chelsea rearguard well-marshalled by Branislav Ivanovic and Gary
Cahill.

Eyes on the ball: Chelsea's Fernando Torres and Swansea's Ashley Williams (right) compete

Eyes on the ball: Chelsea's Fernando Torres and Swansea's Ashley Williams (right) compete

Hernandez's low strike capped a good
week for the Swans, who were narrowly defeated by Manchester City before
dumping Liverpool out of the League Cup at Anfield.

He said: 'I think it was a deserved
point. It was, in many ways, a copy of the game we played last week
against Manchester City.

'That time we deserved a point but didn't get anything, we did this time.

Good result: Swansea boss Michael Laudrup

Good result: Swansea boss Michael Laudrup

'They had a few goal chances, we had a
couple, two or three half chances. There were not that many chances. A
point for each was a fair result.

'Their goal was a bit lucky but we
came back, got some fresh people on the pitch and really put them under
pressure. I think we deserved it. It was a great goal by Pablo.

'It has been an important week for
the club. we have had three different results the last week but three
very good performances.

'It's nice to see that we can play like that against the big teams in our way of playing. That's important for us.'

No Swansea grudge against Scott Sinclair – Wayne Routledge

Swansea don't hold grudge against Sinclair after ditching club for City, insists Routledge

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UPDATED:

10:49 GMT, 27 October 2012


Big opportunity: Scott Sinclair joined champions Manchester City from Swansea in the summer

Big opportunity: Scott Sinclair joined champions Manchester City from Swansea in the summer

Wayne Routledge insists Swansea's players hold no grudge against Scott Sinclair over his summer move to Manchester City as they prepare to face the Barclays Premier League champions at the Etihad Stadium.

Sinclair made his move to City towards the end of the summer transfer window after informing Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins he had no desire to negotiate a new contract at the Liberty Stadium.

Sinclair was booed by the Swans fans when he made his final appearance for the club in the opening day win over QPR, but Routledge says the club's players understood his decision as they prepare to face their former team-mate for the first time.

Routledge said: 'People get on well here and we all wish each other the best. Scott had a chance to go and joining the champions and he took that opportunity.

'I haven't spoken to Scott for a little while because he's had a lot to do up there, he's moving, but I'm sure we'll catch up on Saturday.'

Routledge has benefited from Sinclair's move, taking the chance to cement a place in the first-team to become a key figure in Michael Laudrup's side, scoring two goals and creating several others so far this term.

Flourishing: Wayne Routledge (left) is enjoying life after Sinclair at Swansea

Flourishing: Wayne Routledge (left) is enjoying life after Sinclair at Swansea

The 27-year-old has had a nomadic career taking in spells at Crystal Palace, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Fulham, Aston Villa, Cardiff, QPR and Newcastle, but is flourishing in south Wales.

And he admits the Dane's faith in him has given his confidence a real boost.

He said: 'For me, on a personal note, it's going well, I'm playing games, making chances and scoring goals so I can't ask for much more.

'People can ask you to pinpoint what it is, but I'm not sure. I'm playing more and that's probably given me a bit more confidence and now you're seeing the best of me.

'It's definitely up there (with the best form of my career), I'm enjoying my football every time I step out on the pitch and every time we train.

'That's a nice feeling because that's when you get the best out of players.

'I just want to keep playing well, keep making chances and maybe keep scoring more goals.'

Swansea head to the Etihad Stadium on the back of last weekend's morale-boosting win over Wigan, but will face a City side desperate to respond after their Champions League defeat to Ajax in midfield.

However, Routledge believes the Dutch team's 3-1 victory shows there is nothing to fear for the visitors going into a game few expect them to get a positive result from, although he is under no illusion about the size of the challenge facing the Swans.

He said: 'The Etihad has become something of a fortress for them there, but we've got to go there in a positive frame of mind.

'As footballers, they're in the higher echelons but sometimes you have games when it doesn't click.

'That seems to be what happened the other night, it wasn't the usual Manchester City.

'But when you play Manchester City whatever they do it's going to be a really hard game on Saturday. We have to get our minds right and be ready from the start.'

Michael Laudrup facing Swansea rebellion after secret meetings

Exclusive: Swansea manager Laudrup facing a players' rebellion after secret meetings

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 10 October 2012

Michael Laudrup is on a collision course at Swansea after key players held a series of secret meetings with chairman Huw Jenkins about the Dane's management methods.

Despite being 11th in the Barclays Premier League, Laudrup is facing a rebellion among his senior stars after three months at the club.

The latest meeting between chairman and players took place last week as frustrations began to boil over before their 2-2 Premier League home draw against Reading last Saturday.

Collision course: players are unhappy with Laudrup

Collision course: Players are unhappy with Laudrup

Swansea players have been angered by Laudrup's demands for a change to their tactical approach and are reluctant to adopt his methods.

There are also fears among the squad that they are not as fit under their new manager. Some have even taken to staying behind after training for extra fitness work.

Jenkins is also considering complaints from players that Laudrup's training methods are not as advanced as those of the previous coach, Brendan Rodgers.

Swansea's players are still adjusting to life after Rodgers and they are finding it difficult to adapt to Laudrup's approach.

Rodgers captivated his squad with his forward-thinking approach and they responded by winning promotion via the play-offs before finishing 11th in the Premier League last season.

Wayne's world: Routledge scored in the comeback draw against Reading

Wayne's world: Routledge scored in the comeback draw against Reading

The Liverpool boss has first-class communication skills and Swansea's players have noted a big difference between Laudrup and their previous boss.

Jenkins is acting as mediator in the dispute but he has been aware of the concerns among the squad since the start of the season.

The Swansea chairman has no plans to fire Laudrup and is determined his model of continuity will thrive in the post-Rodgers era.

Battle: Swansea are 11th in the Premier League table

Battle: Swansea are 11th in the Premier League table

Incredibly, Jenkins was approached by key players days before the start of the season as they adjusted to life without the new Liverpool manager.

The chairman noted their observations and has held further meetings with players, without Laudrup's knowledge, to assess the situation.

The latest came days before Swansea recovered from a two-goal deficit against promoted Reading to secure a point. On the surface, Swansea appear to have nothing to be concerned about after picking up eight points from their opening seven Premier League games.

Laudrup made a flying start to the season with a 5-0 win at QPR on the opening day and followed it up with a 3-0 victory over West Ham at the Liberty Stadium the following Saturday.

Since then they have drawn against Sunderland and Reading and lost to Everton and Stoke. They face Wigan on October 20 before a tough trip to champions Manchester City seven days later.

Last night Jenkins confirmed the meetings had taken place but insisted Laudrup continues to have his full support.

He said: 'As with any change in manager, particularly at a club who have been successful, it will take time to settle down.

'Everyone has a different approach and this is a normal issue for us after Brendan Rodgers went to Liverpool. Michael knew the philosophy of the club when he came here and that won't change whether he is the manager or not. They all agree to manage the club a certain way.'

Laudrup enjoyed a hugely successful playing career with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Ajax but his managerial record has been mixed.

He coached in the Champions League with Spartak Moscow but left Real Mallorca at the end of last season after winning just 13 games.

The former Denmark midfielder was appointed manager by Swansea to evolve the playing system put in place when Roberto Martinez was in charge.

Brian McDermott happy with point despite Reading throwing away two-goal lead

McDermott happy with point despite winless Reading throwing away two-goal lead

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UPDATED:

18:52 GMT, 6 October 2012

Reading boss Brian McDermott was adamant his team had gained a point rather than losing two after they sacrificed a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Swansea.

The Royals went ahead in the 31st minute when Swans goalkeeper Michel Vorm allowed a Pavel Pogrebnyak shot to squirm beneath him and they doubled their advantage a minute before the break thanks to Noel Hunt's volley.

The hosts had been the better side in the opening half, though, and continued to press after the interval, with Michu's header reducing the deficit in the 71st minute before Wayne Routledge slammed home an equaliser seven minutes later.

Spoiler: Wayne Routledge (right) sealed the draw for Swansea late on

Spoiler: Wayne Routledge (right) sealed the draw for Swansea late on

Swansea were also thwarted by a string of excellent saves from Reading stopper Alex McCarthy and had claims that Nicky Shorey had handled in the box waved away by referee Mike Dean.

The drama then continued as Royals midfielder Jem Karacan had a 90th-minute header cleared off the line by Swans skipper Ashley Williams.

The final outcome meant McDermott's men are still without a top-flight win this term after six games but post-match, the manager was not complaining too much about a potential victory squandered.

'I know what happened in that second half,' McDermott said.

'Our goalkeeper has pulled off some fantastic saves, Swansea played really well and that is a point gained for us.

'I couldn't tell you how many, but I do know he (McCarthy) has made some fantastic saves.

'So at 2-0, we have got to 70 minutes, but we are just sort of waiting for something to happen on their behalf.

'We need to affect the game better than we did in the second half. But having said that, that is a good point gained here.'

That point – Reading now have three – did in fact take the Royals out of the relegation zone but asked about his side's league position, McDermott said: “I'm not overly concerned about that at the moment.

'Obviously it is good to climb up the table, but I just think that is definitely a point gained.

'I know we were 2-0 up and you would say it is an opportunity for us, and it is – it is certainly an opportunity.

Swansea's Michu headed home to put the scores at 2-1

Swansea's Michu headed home to put the scores at 2-1

Close one: Swansea found themselves two goals down but battled back

Close one: Swansea found themselves two goals down but battled back

'But I know that in each and every game we have been involved in, we've been in the game – apart from the Tottenham game where we got beaten 3-1 – so we'll take that today and move on.'

Referring to Karacan's late chance, McDermott said: 'That is us all over – we have done that for a long time now.

'For the last three years we have won games late on and we nearly won it in the last minute.

'It was a good clearance off the line. It would have been nice to get that winner, but we must not be greedy.'

McDermott insisted he had not seen the incident involving Shorey, who blocked a shot by Pablo Hernandez.

'I'm not copping out – I genuinely didn't see that,' he said.

'I didn't even know anything about that, so if that is the case, that is the case. I couldn't tell you one way or another.'

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup was more certain on the matter, claiming the Welsh outfit had been denied a legitimate spot-kick.

'Who knows what would have happened if we got the penalty we should have' Laudrup – whose team had lost their previous three matches in the Premier League – said.

'It should have been a penalty – obviously, it is football so you can't use your hands if you are not the goalkeeper. But the referee didn't give it and that is what can happen.

'It is a little difficult to say if it was a point gained or two lost – you can say both or neither.'

Another one: Pavel Pogrebnyak (right) bagged another goal for the club

Another one: Pavel Pogrebnyak (right) bagged another goal for the club