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Danny Graham struck in injury time to earn Swansea City a 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium. Aston Villa had conceded 15 and scored none in their last three games and Wayne Routledge added to their woes as he fired the hosts ahead in the ninth minute.
But Paul Lambert’s gritty side had looked set to take the points after Andreas Weimann levelled and Christian Benteke scored from the spot when Nathan Dyer conceded an 84th minute spot-kick for a foul on Weimann. However, Graham volleyed home after Michu’s effort had been blocked in a late goalmouth scramble, leaving Lambert with his head in his hands.
A point at least ends Villa’s run of defeats and, despite the crushing disappointment, Lambert can take great heart from a gutsy effort from a side with an average age of just 23. But Swansea will wonder how they did not put this game to bed when they threatened to run away with it in the opening half-hour.
Villa survived a big scare as early as the fourth minute. Routledge beat Matthew Lowton by flicking the ball over the full-back’s head and racing clear but Brad Guzan denied the winger and smothered at Michu’s feet as the Spaniard followed up. Ciaran Clark then cut out Michu’s pass to Graham when a goal looked certain but Villa’s luck ran out in the ninth minute. The visitors were beaten by a simple pass from Pablo Hernandez and Routledge rounded Guzan to open the scoring.
Graham hit a post seconds later and the striker then also blazed wide with the goal at his mercy just eight yards out. Benteke offered the visitors a brief respite when he got free of Chico Flores’ attentions but the Belgian forward’s shot was held by Michel Vorm.
Guzan was soon busy again, denying Michu a wonderful goal after 26 minutes. The Spaniard outfoxed Clark with a superb turn but the Villa goalkeeper deflected his strike on to a post.
Swansea eased up and errors crept into their game and they were punished just two minutes before the break. Ashley Williams failed to cut out Benteke’s flick and Weimann finished with an angled shot across Vorm. The goal gave Villa a huge boost in confidence as they headed down the tunnel and they opened the second half in far more combative mood than the first.
They could have taken the lead had Benteke been able to stretch enough to get a toe on a ball across the six-yard box from Lowton, although Swansea continued to look dangerous with Hernandez sliding wide when unmarked at the back post.
Swansea pressed and pressed in search of a winner but were met with stern resistance by the Villa rearguard. The visitors were carving out presentable opportunities of their own on the break, with Weimann going close to a second as he curled a shot just wide, before the Austrian failed to pick out Benteke with his strike partner set to race in on goal.
At the other end, Hernandez’s trickery found space in the Villa box and forced a sharp stop from Guzan. But, with just six minutes left, Benteke put Villa ahead. The Belgian had just seen his header cleared off the line by Dyer but the Swansea substitute then brought down Weimann to concede a penalty, which Benteke slotted with aplomb.
Villa could not hold out for the win as Graham fired beyond Guzan’s grasp in a frantic finish.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup: "It was a great performance – it could have been 4-0 after 12 minutes – but we know how it is when you don’t take your chances.
“They had only been near our goal two or three times in the first 45 minutes and we gave Villa belief they could come from behind and get something out of the game. If we had got a second or third we would maybe be sitting here talking about a 5-0 win.”
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: “It is a huge point although we should have seen it through. In the first half they were coming at us from all angles and we had to weather that storm. To get the goal before half-time certainly helped us and it had a galvanizing effect.
"We have been beaten heavily in the last three games so this is a huge point for the future of the club. When you get beaten heavily you learn a lot about people and today showed they are mentally strong."
|12 Jan 2013||v Everton (A)|
|19 Jan 2013||v Stoke (H)|
|29 Jan 2013||v Sunderland (A)|
|02 Feb 2013||v West Ham (A)|
|09 Feb 2013||v QPR (H)|
|17 Feb 2013||v Liverpool (A)|