Match: Swansea City v Aston Villa
Date: Wednesday 26th December 2018
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Nyland; Elmohamady, Bree, Chester, Hutton; Whelan, Hourihane (Bjarnason), McGinn; El Ghazi, Abraham (Kodjia), Bolasie (Adomah). Unused subs: Bunn, Revan, Davis, Hogan.
Story in brief
Conor Hourihane’s second-half strike sealed a 1-0 win for Villa at Swansea City.
The travelling Villa faithful were given a belated Christmas present on Boxing Day when, having taken the lead through Hourihane, Orjan Nyland’s 90th-minute penalty save earned a clean sheet and an away day victory.
The Swans had arguably the better of the opening exchanges in South Wales with Bersant Celina curling a shot away from goal and Mike Van der Hoorn forcing a flying save from Nyland to keep out his goalbound header.
The Norwegian stopper’s counterpart, Erwin Mulder was called into action shortly afterwards to shovel away John McGinn’s thumping close-range volley after Tammy Abraham’s knock-down inside the box.
Abraham would head wide before the half was over while McGinn and Yannick Bolasie both followed suit, directing headers off target.
Celina also sent a bouncing ball over the crossbar while Bolasie moved onto a pass from McGinn before drilling in a shot that was well held by Mulder.
Swans skipper Leroy Fer saw his dipping low volley well pouched by Nyland at the start of the second half before Mulder was again in action to keep out Hourihane’s free-kick.
Not to be denied, it was the Irish midfielder who opened the scoring on 65 minutes. Alan Hutton and Bolasie linked up nicely on the left before the former clipped an inviting cross into the middle that was headed home by Hourihane via the underside of the crossbar.
Albert Adomah made his return to action after injury in the second half and his first action was to float a cross into McGinn who headed onto the roof of the net.
Fellow substitute for Swansea, Wilfried Bony then sent a shot goalwards that was held by Nyland. More on the battle between those two, later.
McGinn’s thunderous effort from distance was grasped by Mulder at the second attempt while Mike Van der Hoorn headed against the upright as the hosts looked for a way back into the game.
With the clock ticking towards 90, the hosts were handed the perfect opportunity to draw level from the penalty spot but Bony saw his kick smartly pushed away by a diving Nyland to preserve all three points for the visitors.
Conor on the mark
Conor Hourihane was the Villa hero in South Wales, registering his second effort in as many games, having found the net against Leeds United three days beforehand.
At the Liberty Stadium, his surging, late run into the box made the difference for Villa. Alan Hutton’s ball across picked out the run of the midfielder who powered a header into the net to seal all three points.
Orjan Nyland played a crucial role in all three points returning to the West Midlands. With the hosts awarded a last-gasp penalty for a foul on Wilfried Bony, the striker stepped up to take responsibility for the kick.
Sending the ball to Nyland’s right, the stopper threw himself across goal and got two fists on the effort to push it away from goal.
The festive fixtures come thick and fast for the claret and blues. Dean Smith’s men are back in action on Saturday when they make the journey north to Preston North End, backed by a sell-out away following of over 5,000.