Gabbiadini strikes priceless winner at Swansea

By SFC Media time Tue 08 May Swansea v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Manolo Gabbiadini
Tue 08 May 7.45PM
Premier League
Swansea City
Gabbiadini [72']
Sung-yueng (20') Fernández (90+4')
yellow card
Romeu (38')
Referee: Michael Oliver | Venue: Liberty Stadium | Attendance: 20,858

Manolo Gabbiadini pounced to score the most important goal of his Southampton career to propel Saints to within touching distance of Premier League survival.

A predictably tense affair was decided 17 minutes from time, just four minutes after Gabbiadini replaced the stricken Jan Bednarek, as the striker forced the ball home from a goalmouth scramble.

It was far from beautiful, but absolutely invaluable.

Swansea huffed and puffed, but the goal visibly shook the home team, whose fate is now out of their hands.

It was a result that relegated West Brom, while Saints can now only go down should they succumb to a ten-goal swing on the final day.

Mark Hughes was forced into the only two changes to his side, who saw two points snatched from their grasp in heart-breaking fashion at Everton on Saturday.

Mario Lemina, substituted at half time with a hamstring complaint, and Maya Yoshida, dismissed late on at Goodison Park, were both unavailable, so Jack Stephens and Nathan Redmond were drafted in.

With so much at stake for both teams, a tense start might have been expected, but instead there was early action at either end.

Goalkeepers Lukasz Fabianski and Alex McCarthy were both sent stooping to hold on to long-range shots from Ryan Bertrand and Andy King respectively.

Then the home fans were brought to their feet in unison as the ball struck Wesley Hoedt on the hand, but the Dutchman knew nothing about it as he slid in to dispossess Andre Ayew in the box.

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 08: Cedric(L) of Southampton and Martin Olsson(R) of swansea during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Southampton at Liberty Stadium on May 8, 2018 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Cédric holds off Martin Olsson on a night of huge tension in south Wales

By the midpoint in the first half, it seemed the stresses and strains of the survival battle had started to kick in.

Possession was surrendered too easily and neither side was able to capitalise on any potential openings that did materialise in the final third.

With 32 minutes on the clock, Saints had the first clear sight of goal. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s slide-rule pass in behind the Swansea defence was weighted so perfectly Charlie Austin did not need to break stride before shooting hard and low across Fabianski, but not close enough to the corner to beat the Polish stopper.

Back came Swansea. King’s cross from the right was met by a glancing header from Sam Clucas that only just bounced beyond the far post, though McCarthy may have had it covered.

Suddenly the hosts were able to build a bit of momentum and Saints had a difficult spell to negotiate in the lead up to half time, but it was territorial pressure that lacked an end product or anything to really concern McCarthy.

Instead it was Fabianski who had to be alert when Cédric’s cross was flicked on at the near post and volleyed goalwards by Austin at the far, who caught the ball so sweetly as he fell, but looked up to see it fly straight into the keeper’s grasp.

There was still time for Redmond to hit a deflected shot wide before the interval, as Saints served a timely reminder of their threat, but it was Swansea who went close immediately after the restart.

It had the feel of a game that could easily be decided by a solitary goal, so when McCarthy was sent flying by Jordan Ayew, it was imperative he kept the striker at bay.

Drifting out to the left touchline, Ayew beat Jan Bednarek and cut inside to a shooting position 25 yards from goal, letting fly with a dipping shot that was heading into the top corner until the keeper stretched out a big right hand and tipped it over.

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 08: Manolo Gabbiadini of Southampton scores during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Southampton at Liberty Stadium on May 8, 2018 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Gabbiadini pounces to score and secure a seismic victory in the survival race

As the momentum swung back and forth, Saints enjoyed another good spell around the hour mark.

Austin forced another save from Fabianski with a well-struck shot from distance, before Stephens saw a header deflected wide as the visitors forced a flurry of corners.

From another of those, Cédric retrieved the ball over on the far side and delivered a peach of a cross on to the head of Austin, who was stood right in the middle of the six-yard line but could only find the gloves of Fabianski.

Both managers saw fit to change things soon after. Reinforcing the point that both sides had to win, both brought on strikers, as Shane Long and Tammy Abraham entered the fray, with Redmond the player sacrificed by Hughes.

But almost straight from the restart, McCarthy punched clear a cross and nearly took the head off Bednarek in the process, who stayed down for several minutes and was unable to continue.

And so, by accident rather than design, on came Gabbiadini as Hughes went for it with three strikers.

Four minutes later, Saints won a corner. Dušan Tadić delivered it deep, where it was kept alive by Long and nodded on by Oriol Romeu to Austin.

Again the striker hit the target, typically sharp in a tight space, but again Fabianski was in the way.

This time, however, the save was less convincing, and the ball hovered in the six-yard box for what seemed like an eternity before Gabbiadini pounced to force it home from close range, sparking scenes of euphoria among the 2,000 travelling fans.

Hughes’s final change was to restore some balance to his team’s formation, as Sam McQueen trotted on in place of Tadić, who had been quiet but produced one set-piece that would live long in the memory of Saints fans everywhere.

Six minutes of added time was tortuous, but ultimately safely negotiated, and the celebrations could begin.

Swansea City

Head to Head Stats

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Swansea City

Lukasz Fabianski (GK)
Kyle Naughton
replace Luciano Narsingh (75′)
Alfie Mawson
Federico Fernández (C) yellow card
Andy King
replace Tom Carroll (82′)
Ki Sung-yueng yellow card
Connor Roberts
Martin Olsson
replace Tammy Abraham (62′)
André Ayew
Sam Clucas
Jordan Ayew
Tammy Abraham
Luciano Narsingh
Tom Carroll
Kristoffer Nordfeldt
Nathan Dyer
Renato Sanches
Mike van der Hoorn


Alex McCarthy (GK)
Jack Stephens
Wesley Hoedt
Jan Bednarek
replace Manolo Gabbiadini (68′) goal
Cédric Soares
Oriol Romeu yellow card
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
Ryan Bertrand (C)
Dusan Tadic
replace Sam McQueen (83′)
Charlie Austin
Nathan Redmond
replace Shane Long (64′)
Manolo Gabbiadini
Guido Carrillo
James Ward-Prowse
Sam McQueen
Josh Sims
Shane Long
Fraser Forster
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