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St Gallen 1 - 0 Swansea: Swans lose but progress

St Gallen defender Stephane Besle deflects the ball away from Swansea midfielder Wayne Routledge. Picture: Getty

St Gallen defender Stephane Besle deflects the ball away from Swansea midfielder Wayne Routledge. Picture: Getty

  • by ANDREW GWILYM AT AFG ARENA
 

Swansea reached the knockout stages of the Europa League despite a disappointing defeat in the fog and cold of St Gallen last night.

Scorer: Mathys (80)

The Welsh club knew a draw would be enough to guarantee their progression from Group A, but Kuban Krasnodar’s failure to beat Valencia in Spain ensured this defeat did not prove costly.

In sub-zero temperatures and with a low fog hindering visibility, the visitors had the better of the opening half, with Roland Lamah twice going close. But they slackened off after the break and were punished when Marco Mathys found the net from close range with just 10 minutes to go.

Swansea’s preparations for this fixture had been far from ideal with fog and technical issues ensuring their journey to Switzerland on Wednesday took over 12 hours.

Some players were also awoken by a shallow earth tremor in the early hours of the morning.

But they managed to take an early control of the match, with Lamah curling just wide and later firing narrowly off-target with a low shot.

However, their hosts were much improved after the break and Roberto Rodriguez was twice denied by Gerhard Tremmel after some poor Swansea defending.

The hosts had a goal chalked off for a push on Neil Taylor but found the winner their efforts deserved when Mathys prodded in a low cross from Sebastien Wuthrich.

Swansea still reached the latter stages of a European tournament for the first time in their history, and they will be in Monday’s draw for the last 32 along with the likes of Benfica, Ajax, Napoli and Juventus.

Swansea did at least have the better of proceedings and they could have led early on when Lamah seized on a loose ball and curled a left-footed strike just wide of the far post.

Jonjo Shelvey, one of few players who stood out in the drab first period, then worked St Gallen keeper Marcel Herzog with a low shot as Swansea had plenty of joy with rapid counter-attacks.

As the fog started to descend, Wayne Routledge burst into the box but a heavy touch let the ball run away from him and the chance was gone. Swansea lost Chico Flores after the break with what appeared to be an ankle problem, and their discomfort continued when Wuthrich struck the post with a free-kick.

Swansea looked to have fallen behind when the ball hit Neil Taylor and rolled in, but the goal was ruled out for a push on the defender by Wuthrich.

Jose Canas, on as a sub for Flores, then cleared a Mathys header off the line as the pressure increased.

The pressure finally told when Mathys netted, but it was not enough to prevent Swansea’s progression.

St Gallen: Herzog, Mutsch, Besle, Russo, Lenjani, Wuthrich, Janjatovic, Demiri, Rodriguez (Nushi 59), Mathys (Franin 88), Karanovic (Keita 13). Subs not used: Lopar, Nater, Schonenberger, Martic.

Swansea: Tremmel, Tiendalli, Chico (Canas 62), Amat, Taylor, Shelvey, de Guzman, Pozuelo, Routledge (Williams 64), Lamah, Bony (Hernandez 77). Subs not used: Oliver Davies, Michu, Dyer, Ben Davies.

Referee: L Liany (Israel).

Attendance: 14,000.

 

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