Friday 04 October 2013
Michu and Jermain Defoe earned the praise of their respective managers as Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur both recorded wins to move top of their UEFA Europa League groups.
Michael Laudrup paid tribute to the bravery of Michu after the bloodied Spaniard battled through 90 minutes of his side's 1-0 UEFA Europa League victory over St Gallen with a bloody headwound.
"It shows he just wants to play, Michu is very important for the other players when he is in there"
Laudrup was delighted with Swansea's 1-0 success - their second of the group stage - which came courtesy of Wayne Routledge's tap-in at the far post, even if they were fortunate a first-half penalty miss by Goran Karanovic kept the tie level going into the interval.
But it was the insistence of Michu to keep playing on after sustaining a cut to the head from the boot of Stephane Besle in the first half that also impressed the Danish tactician.
Swansea's medical staff struggled to tend to the injury, with vaseline, bandages and a change of shirt, all failing to stem the flow of blood, and at half-time a member of Swansea's staff was sent to the club shop to retrieve a shirt with his name and number on the back, but even that was changed for a fifth of the night during the closing stages.
"We talk so much about him," said Laudrup. "But it shows he just wants to play, he is very important for the other players when he is in there. He works so hard and he is really important for us, but I guess that's not really news.
"We did not know how bad [the injury] was, because he was on the other side of the field. We said he would come back on, but we were eight minutes with 10 men. Fortunately nothing happened, it was not bad for him and we did not concede."
The victory leaves the Swans, who are top of Group A with six points from two matches, well-placed to progress to the Round of 32 stage.
"We are in a fantastic position," added Laudrup. "Valencia won away in Russia so we have six points, and there are two teams on three points and they play each other next time. If we could win the next game it would be a really good position."
Swansea are in Barclays Premier League action against Southampton on Sunday and you can catch all the action with Matchday Live. For all the build-up click here.
Jermain Defoe again pressed his claims for a regular starting berth up in Andre Villas-Boas's attack after scoring in Tottenham Hotspur's UEFA Europa League victory over Anji Makhachkala.
"He is a great professional, has a great attitude and now he's only one off Martin Chivers so it's a real great achievement for him"
The England international broke the deadlock after 34 minutes of a dominant display by the visitors, to score his seventh goal in four starts this season, and move to within a goal of Martin Chivers' club record European haul of 22, while Nacer Chadli scored his first goal since his summer move to double the advantage five minutes later.
Though the hosts stepped up their level after the break, the north Londoners held firm to record their second group success and move to the top of Group K as their run without conceding in this year's competition stretched to a fourth match.
And Villas-Boas revealed he has been delighted with the contributions of both Defoe and his regular starter in the Barclays Premier League this season, Roberto Soldado, which have enabled him to rotate his squad and make a strong start in the club's European and domestic campaigns.
"We have to judge recovery and the fact that JD was involved today and Soldado wasn't," said the Spurs head coach. "Everything will come into consideration. We have been extremely happy with the performances of both. It is a question of deciding what is best for the team.
"It was another great goal, a great finish. It's really good to see him out there again doing extremely well whenever he's given the opportunity. He is a great professional, has a great attitude and now he's only one off Martin Chivers so it's a real great achievement for him."
The only negative from the match was another injury sustained by Younes Kaboul, which forced the replacement of the French centre-back, who has endured a catalogue of injuries over the last 18 months, with 20 minutes remaining.
Spurs host West Ham United in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday and you can catch all the action with Matchday Live. For all the build-up click here.
Kuban Krasnodar 0-2 Valencia
Swansea City (Routledge) 1-0 St Gallen
Anji Makhachkala 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Defoe, Chadli)
Tromso 1-1 FC Sheriff