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Friday 21 February 2014

Europa League: Monk hails Swansea after Napoli draw

Swans record stalemate in round of 32 first leg while Spurs lose out in Ukraine

  • Swansea City's Ben Davies tries to get through the Napoli defence

  • Chico Flores goes close for Swansea City on Thursday night

Swansea City 0-0 Napoli

Swansea City head coach Garry Monk praised the performance of his side after they earned a draw at home to Napoli in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round-of-32 tie.

"What a performance from us. They are one of the top teams in Europe. I said to the players afterwards, 'wow'"
Garry Monk

Marek Hamsik forced Swansea's Michel Vorm into an early save while Napoli goalkeeper Rafael Cabral was busy at the other end, denying Wilfried Bony, Wayne Routledge and Angel Rangel.

Gonzalo Higuain fired over the bar at the start of the second half but Swansea continued to carve out opportunities, with Cabral's replacement Pepe Reina saving from Ashley Williams and Routledge. In the closing stages, an unmarked Chico Flores headed straight at Reina.

"We should have had more, but what a performance from us," said Monk. "They are one of the top teams in Europe. I said to the players afterwards 'wow'. If they can do that against them, then they can do it against anyone. It's a great confidence boost for the players.

"The only disappointment is we didn't get a goal. We deserved at least a couple of goals. There was some fantastic goalkeeping and maybe we needed to be a bit more clinical, but apart from that, the boys were magnificent.

"We have nothing to lose when we go there. The pressure is on them. The good thing is they have to win. We will go over there and compete with them. It will be a great experience for everyone at the club. To be in with a shout, that’s all we can ask for in this competition."

Swansea will travel to Naples for the second leg on Thursday 27 February.

FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur

Tim Sherwood is confident Tottenham Hotspur can turn their UEFA Europa League fortunes around at White Hart Lane next Thursday despite suffering a first-leg reverse in their last-32 encounter with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk on Thursday night.

A Yehven Konoplyanka penalty nine minutes from time decided a hard-fought contest which might have provided an away goal for Spurs had Roberto Soldado accepted his invitation to score from close range early in the second half.

In an open contest the Ukrainian outfit gave Sherwood's side a stern test, however, and Brad Friedel, twice from Matheus, and his opposite number Denys Boyko both pulled off a number of saves to keep the tie goalless until Jan Vertnghen felled Matheus in the area to allow Konoplyanka the opportunity to strike the winning goal on the night in off the post from 12 yards.

"The positive thing is we're still in the tie, we'll bring them back to the Lane next Thursday and hopefully we'll stay in the competition," said Sherwood, the head coach, whose side next face Norwich City at Carrow Road in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday. "I can't fault the endeavour and application from the lads, we just needed a little more quality at certain times."

UEFA Europa League round of 32 first-leg results

Thursday 20 February
Swansea City 0-0 Napoli
FC Dinipro (Konoplyanka) 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Europa League round of 32 first-leg fixtures

Thursday 27 February
Napoli v Swansea City (6pm)
Tottenham Hotspur v FC Dinipro (8.05pm)

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Key Points

  • Garry Monk praises Swansea City after their UEFA Europa League draw against Napoli
  • Second leg of round of 32 tie will take place next Thursday
  • Tottenham Hotspur lose 1-0 at FC Dinipro