Tuesday 8th March 2022
Swansea.com Stadium
19:45

SWA Swansea

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FUL Fulham

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Ryan Manning is shown a red card

Ryan Manning’s red card proved the turning point as Championship leaders Fulham emerged victorious against 10-man Swansea City.

Russell Martin’s side had gone toe-to-toe with the runaway champions-elect during much of the first half, with Michael Obafemi forcing Marek Rodak into a fingertip save after the home side’s best attack.

But the contest completely changed after Manning was sent off for a challenge on Harry Wilson a few minutes before the interval.

Aleksandar Mitrovic struck his 35th goal of the season in the first minute of the second half, before an own goal from Ben Cabango and Bobby Decordova-Reid’s close-range effort made it 3-0.

Joel Piroe pulled one back with his 16th goal of the season, but the Cottagers had the final word as Neco Williams fired home twice in quick succession.

The Swans had made one enforced change from the weekend win over Coventry, with Olivier Ntcham coming in with Cyrus Christie unavailable against his parent club.

Martin had spoken of the need for his side to embrace the challenge of facing the league leaders, and showing an ability to back up positive performances and results, which they have not always been able to do in three-game weeks.

There was certainly no shortage of intensity about the hosts’ start to proceedings, the Swans playing with a swagger on the ball and successfully counter-pressing quickly when possession was lost.

Matt Grimes carries the ball against Fulham

There was a pleasing crispness to much of Swansea’s play, but they were frustrated when patient build-up suddenly sprang Jamie Paterson into space.

The midfielder looked set to shoot from a few yards outside of the box, but opted to try and find Ntcham on the opposite flank, only for the pass to be cut out.

Fulham’s first sight of goal came from their first meaningful attack, Mitrovic heading over from Neco Williams’ excellent cross.

At the other end a threatening Paterson delivery from a free-kick just wouldn’t fall for a white shirt as it ricocheted through a number of players, before appeals for a handball against Tim Ream were waved away.

Kyle Naughton made an outstanding challenge to deny Mitrovic an opportunity as Neeskens Kebano slid a ball across the edge of the six-yard box.

But it was the Swans making much of the running, and in-form Michael Obafemi forced Marek Rodak into a fingertip save with a firm drive from distance after the Swans had patiently worked their way from back to front.

However, the hosts suffered a blow five minutes before half-time when Manning was dismissed, the Irishman caught Harry Wilson as he stretched to reach a loose ball but there was disbelief among the Swans bench and players when referee Jarred Gillett produced a red card without any hesitation.

Michael Obafemi holds off Fulham's Harry Wilson

Mitrovic headed narrowly wide from Harrison Reed’s cross in stoppage time and the Swans would have been glad of the short break to assess and make the requisite tweaks with a full half to play a man down against a side packed with Premier League quality and experience.

Martin sent on Ryan Bennett for Ntcham, while Flynn Downes was withdrawn after picking up a knock, with Jay Fulton on in his place.

But Swansea’s sense of frustration only increased when the visitors took the lead just 13 seconds into the second half, with Mitrovic sweeping home after Reed picked off a loose ball and Fabio Carvalho teed up the Serbian for his 35th goal of a record-breaking season.

Six minutes later and it was 2-0. Wilson fed Reed in down the right channel and Cabango could only divert the midfielder’s cross into the far corner of his own net.

The Swans tried to find a response, Paterson getting into space on the left but not being able to pick out another white shirt before Andy Fisher saved from Kebano low at his near post.

Paterson fizzed an effort wide from Piroe’s lay-off as the contest entered its final 25 minutes, but Fulham sealed victory by netting their third goal with 17 minutes to play.

Mitrovic escaped into space and floated a cross to Wilson, who in turn headed back across goal for substitute Decordova-Reid to find the net a matter of minutes after coming on.

Swansea responded immediately, Paterson providing a lovely assist as his cross was glanced down and in at the far post by Piroe.

But Fulham wasted no time in adding another goal as Swansea appeals for offside were ignored and Williams fired home after Bennett had half-cleared Decordova-Reid’s cross.

And Williams compounded Swansea's misery when he fired a superb dipping volley into the net from distance to round off the scoring.

Swansea City: Andy Fisher; Korey Smith, Ben Cabango, Kyle Naughton, Ryan Manning; Olivier Ntcham (Ryan Bennett 46), Flynn Downes (Jay Fulton 46), Matt Grimes (captain), Jamie Paterson; Joel Piroe, Michael Obafemi (Kyle Joseph 60).

Unused Substitutes: Ben Hamer, Joel Latibeaudiere, Finley Burns, Cameron Congreve.

Fulham: Marek Rodak; Harrison Reed, Neeskens Kebano (Bobby Decordova-Reid 68), Harry Wilson, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Tim Ream (captain), Tosin Aderabioyo, Neco Williams, Jean Michael Seri (Tom Cairney 76), Fabio Carvalho (Ivan Cavaleiro 68), Antonee Robinson.

Unused Substitutes: Paulo Gazzaniga. Kenny Tete, Michael Hector, Nathaniel Chalobah.

Attendance: 17,012