Barclays Premier League: Swansea City v Norwich
5th March 2016
Gylfi Sigurdsson's eighth goal of the season saw Swansea City secure a crucial 1-0 home win over Norwich at the Liberty.
After a goalless first half with no clear-cut chances for either side, Sigurdsson broke the deadlock just past the hour mark as he coolly slotted home after a fine pass from substitute Leroy Fer.
The Icelandic international nearly made it two with a sublime 30-yard free-kick that was tipped away by John Ruddy.
Norwich came close to rescuing a point late on through Nathan Redmond, but the Swans held firm to secure victory and move nine points clear of the bottom three with nine games to play.
The Swans made six changes from Wednesday night's impressive 2-1 victory at Arsenal as Federico Fernandez, Angel Rangel, Neil Taylor, Leon Britton, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alberto Paloschi all returned to the starting line-up.
Jefferson Montero, meanwhile, was included in the matchday squad in place of Ki Sung-Yueng, who missed out with an ankle injury.
SWANS: Lukasz Fabianski, Angel Rangel, Federico Fernandez, Ashley Williams (capt), Neil Taylor, Leon Britton (Leroy Fer, 55), Jack Cork, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Routledge, Andre Ayew (Bafe Gomis, 80), Alberto Paloschi (Modou Barrow, ht).
SUBS: Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Kyle Naughton, Jordi Amat, Jefferson Montero.
NORWICH: John Ruddy, Russell Martin (capt), Timm Klose, Ivo Pinto, Robbie Brady (Ryan Bennett, 15), Jonny Howson, Gary O'Neil, Nathan Redmond, Wes Hoolahan, Cameron Jerome (Dieumerci Mbokani, 64), Steven Naismith (Patrick Bamford, 64).
SUBS: Declan Rudd, Youssouf Mulumbu, Graham Dorrans, Matt Jarvis.
With so much at stake for both sides, it was perhaps to be expected that the opening stages of this contest would be cagey.
Norwich winger Nathan Redmond - who scored in their midweek defeat against Chelsea - had their first effort on goal, cutting in from the right before seeing his left-foot shot easily gathered by Lukasz Fabianski.
There was also plenty of passion and endeavour from both sets of players in the first quarter, with Norwich duo Cameron Jerome and Robbie Brady both shown yellow cards for the visitors while Swans defender Neil Taylor was also cautioned for a late challenge.
The visitors, however, were also forced into a first-half change as Brady hobbled off through injury and was replaced by Ryan Bennett,
The home side's best opening fell to Andre Ayew on the half hour mark as his header dropped off target without troubling John Ruddy in the Norwich goal.
But it was the visitors who came the closest to breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half-time as Jerome's low strike was parried away by Fabianski.
Half-time: Swans 0 Norwich 0
The Swans made their first change of the afternoon at the break as Modou Barrow was introduced in place of Alberto Paloschi.
And it was the Gambia winger who came close on 58 minutes as Gylfi Sigurdsson's deflected shot looped to the far post but Barrow couldn't keep his volley down as it sailed over the bar.
Meanwhile, former Norwich man Leroy Fer was handed his home debut ten minutes into the second half as he replaced Leon Britton in midfield.
And the Dutchman played a pivotal role as Swansea deservedly broke the deadlock just past the hour mark.
From a sweeping counter attack, the ball broke to Fer just outside the box and after he rolled it into the path of Sigurdsson, the Icelandic international coolly slotted it under the body of Ruddy for his eighth goal of the season.
That prompted Norwich to make a double change as Dieumerci Mbokani and Patrick Bamford replaced Jerome and Steven Naismith.
And both players came close to levelling the scores as Bamford tricked his way into the box before seeing a left-foot shot saved by the body of Fabianski, while a Wes Hoolahan cross from the left was met by Mbokani but his header dropped over the bar.
The Swans made their third and final change of the afternoon with ten minutes remaining as Bafe Gomis was introduced in place of Ayew.
There was still time for the Canaries to press for an equaliser though and they came mightily close to rescuing a point with four minutes to play as Wayne Routledge's poor clearance fell at the feet of Redmond but his low shot bobbled inches wide of the post.
And the Swans defence held firm in the closing stages as they secured back-to-back league wins to move nine points clear of the relegation zone.