Swansea City beat Aston Villa 1-0 in the Barclays Premier League to claim their first Boxing Day victory since 2007.
The Welsh club had not won their maiden post-Christmas fixture since a 4-1 triumph over Cheltenham Town in League One seven years ago, but welcomed a Villa side who had emerged triumphant in just three Boxing Day fixtures in the Barclays Premier League era. Swansea were dominant in the first half at the Liberty Stadium and opened the scoring with a well-struck Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick after 13 minutes.
The home side continued to look the more likely to score after going ahead, although the introduction of Andreas Weimann at the break gave Villa more of an attacking edge. Despite an improved second-half display from Villa, which included stoppage-time chances for Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor, Garry Monk's men were able to hold on for the three points.
Swansea's top scorer Wilfried Bony returned to the starting XI as one of four changes from the 1-0 win at Hull City last weekend, while Paul Lambert brought in Alan Hutton and Tom Cleverley after suspension.
The first chance fell the home side's way but Jefferson Montero headed over from Nathan Dyer's cross in the opening minutes. At the other end, Agbonlahor, who had his red card for a collision with Manchester United's Ashley Young overturned this week, sent the ball whistling past the right post from 20 yards.
Swansea went ahead through Sigurdsson after 13 minutes. The Iceland midfielder, also back in the team after missing out through injury at Hull, wrongfooted Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan from a 20-yard free-kick, awarded when Jores Okore felled the advancing Montero.
Swansea continued to apply the pressure after breaking the deadlock, yet the dangerous Montero was forced off with an apparent hamstring injury after 20 minutes.
Aside from Agbonlahor's early effort, Villa's first-half chances were restricted to a Benteke free-kick that crept just wide having found a gap in the Swansea wall shortly after the half-hour.
Ashley Williams will have been grateful to see the offside flag when he headed wide from close range before the interval, and Villa manager Lambert responded to the pressure by bringing Weimann on for Aly Cissokho.
The visitors looked a different team after the Austrian's introduction, although his first real strike was comfortably collected by Lukasz Fabianski and his cross soon after was played too close to the Polish goalkeeper with three Villa shirts lurking in the penalty area.
Bony had the ball in the net after latching onto a through-ball, only to see the effort ruled out for offside, before Agbonlahor chipped wide under pressure from Williams with appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Roger East.
Dyer sent a limp effort into the arms of a grateful Guzan late on, while Swansea also had appeals for a spot-kick waved away after the ball appeared to strike the hand of Ron Vlaar, but two superb stoppage-time saves by Fabianski from a Benteke header and Agbonlahor poke ensured maximum points for the hosts.
Swansea manager Garry Monk: "It was a tough game. In the first half we played some lovely stuff, had an early goal and could have had one or two more. We showed great defensive qualities, and there was a great save from Lukasz Fabianski at the end.
"It was a great stop at a crucial point of the game. Overall, we defended very well. In these conditions today, some of our football was good. Gylfi practices most days with those free-kicks so it's no fluke. We had a couple of chances where we could have made it more comfortable but both teams dug in and tried to win the game and thankfully it was us.
"We're improving all the time. These types of results are good for the mentality. Ultimately, we have to be happy. Three points, a clean sheet, is very good."
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "We're very pleased with how we played. I thought we were fantastic throughout the game. I thought we passed the ball excellently and the goalkeeper kept them in the game. If you ask the lads in the dressing room, they want the games to come quickly because they're playing well.
"Christian Benteke had done everything, put the header across goal, but Lukasz Fabianski came up with a great save. The way we're playing is really pleasing. We've changed the way we've played over the last three to four weeks and the lads have been brilliant with it."
|29 Dec 2014||v Liverpool (A)|
|01 Jan 2015||v QPR (A)|
|10 Jan 2015||v West Ham (H)|
|17 Jan 2015||v Chelsea (H)|
|01 Feb 2015||v Southampton (A)|
|07 Feb 2015||v Sunderland (H)|