PREM: Swansea City 2-0 Stoke City


Tom Carroll celebrates putting Swansea City 2-0 up at the Liberty Stadium

Swansea boosted their hopes of Premier League survival with a vital 2-0 victory over Stoke at the Liberty Stadium.


Fernando Llorente set the Swans on their way to victory, heading his 12th goal of the season home with after 10 minutes.

A minute after Marko Arnautovic blazed a second-half penalty over, Tom Carroll's deflected effort wrapped up a crucial set of three points for Paul Clement's side.

A first win in seven league outings keeps the Swans just behind relegation rivals Hull, whom they trail by just two points. Stoke, meanwhile, remain 11th in the table after losing for the fifth time in their last six games. Both sides welcomed back long-term absentees as Swansea captain Leon Britton played for the first time since New Year's Eve while Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland made his first appearance since March 2016.

With Swans boss Clement expecting relegation rivals Hull to win on Saturday, the hosts could ill-afford to drop points, and they flew out of the traps against a lethargic Stoke team.

It took just 10 minutes for Swansea to hit the front, Llorente powering a header past Butland - a perfect response to pre-match criticism he received for a perceived sluggish style of play.
 
Swansea's positive start was stifled by an injury to Leroy Fer but his replacement, Sung-yeung Ki, ensured the Swans remained on top. That bright start so nearly counted for nothing, but Saido Berahino headed a glorious chance wide on 31 minutes, as his wait for a first Stoke goal continued.

Jordan Ayew flashed an effort through Butland's legs and across the goal line in first-half stoppage-time as the hosts looked to end the half with a flourish.
 
Potential joy nearly turned agony for the hosts, but Berahino's troubles in front of goal continued as he headed Peter Crouch's knock-down straight at Lukasz Fabianski a minute later.

Swansea started the second half brightly but Stoke created the first opening on 69 minutes when referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty after Federico Fernandez's challenge on Xherdan Shaqiri. But a troubling afternoon in south Wales took a turn for the worse for the Potters as Arnautovic fired over from 12 yards.

To add further insult, Swansea then swiftly doubled their lead, Carroll's long-range strike deflecting off Joe Allen and beyond the despairing reach of Butland.
 
Butland was on hand to prevent Carroll from doubling his tally on 73 minutes, tipping the midfielder's long-range strike over the bar.

Bruno Martins Indi fired a late chance over the bar but it proved immaterial, with Swansea's lead secure; whether their top-flight status is as safe remains to be seen.


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