Southampton 1, Swansea City 1: 1 Point Gained or 2 Points Lost?
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When you are at the foot of the table in the Premier League, any point that you can get should be a good feeling.
But after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Swansea City, Southampton fans have to feel that two points got away. Paulo Gazzaniga's poor pass to Maya Yoshida was taken by former Saint Nathan Dyer in the 72nd minute, and Dyer's finish from 15 yards equalized a match that Southampton had been in comfortable control of for the most part.
Although in the end, Southampton lost the possession battle 52 percent to 48 percent, Saints clearly created more chances, taking 16 shots to Swansea's seven and held a 10-6 edge in corner kicks.
The first half was mainly one-way traffic for the Saints, as Southampton had several good chances. The first came in the 15th minute when Adam Lallana cut inside off of a Rickie Lambert knockdown and unleashed a low drive to the near post which was saved well by Swansea keeper Gerhard Tremmel, who was subbing for the injured Michel Vorm.
The next chance was quick to follow when less than a minute later, Gaston Ramirez, in his second match back from injury, fired just wide from outside the area with a curling effort. Ramirez would get a second opportunity 10 minutes later, but his shot from the top of the box went wide as well.
Lallana would get a second chance before halftime when he cut inside in the 42nd minute, but his curling, right-footed shot went just over the bar.
Swansea did have one good chance in the 20th minute courtesy of Ki Sung-Yueng. The South Korean was able to find some space in the right side of the Southampton penalty area and fired a shot near post that was well-parried wide by Gazzaniga, who received his second straight Premier League start.
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After a scoreless first half, it was Swansea that received the first good chance of the second half. A good spell of passing from the Swans created an opportunity for Wayne Routledge, who fired over the bar from about 20 yards.
Southampton's control of the match finally paid dividends in the 64th minute. Yoshida played a diagonal ball to Lambert in the penalty area, and Lambert won the aerial battle and headed the ball across to Morgan Schniederlin. Schniederlin controlled the ball well with his chest and headed the ball over Tremmel to score his second goal of the year and give Southampton the 1-0 lead.
Like many times before this season, Southampton's good fortune was short lived. A back pass to Gazzaniga was dealt with poorly by the Argentinian. Instead of simply taking the safe option and playing the ball long, Gazzaniga tried to pick out Yoshida. The pass was awkward for Yoshida to control, arriving at waist height, and Dyer capitalized on the bobble. Dyer took the ball, raced between defenders and beat Gazzaniga with a shot off the inside of the far post.
Southampton did have a few opportunities to retake the lead in the final 15 minutes. Lambert had a header off of a corner kick in the 79th minute that just missed the mark. Lambert would have another header two minutes later off of a Nathaniel Clyne cross that went weakly into the arms of Tremmel.
The final chance was a moment of controversy. Lallana, who had already been warned and later booked by referee Andre Mariner for unsporting behavior by going down too easily under minor contact, was clattered on the edge of the area by Garry Monk. Mariner, perhaps not sure if Lallana was trying to deceive him again, elected to take no action. The foul would have given Southampton at least a free kick from a prime area if not a penalty kick.
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“We got on the front foot and caused Swansea a lot of problems." Saints Manager Nigel Adkins said after the match to the Southampton website. "We were on the front foot, caused lots of oohs and aahs which gave the referee lots of decisions to make, but one unfortunate decision from a young goalkeeper has resulted in the ball going in the back of our net."
Jack Cork was able to play a full 90 minutes in his first Premier League match of the season after battling injuries. Cork played in the center of midfield with Schneiderlin, which kept Steven Davis and James Ward-Prowse on the bench.
Luke Shaw was handed his first Premier League start after making his Premier League debut on Monday. The 17-year-old became Southampton's youngest ever starter, passing Martin Cranie's appearance in 2004 against Chelsea.
Artur Boruc did not receive a place in the squad despite being cleared of wrongdoing in an incident where Boruc allegedly threw a water bottle at Southampton fans during the 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham. Kelvin Davis served as Gazzaniga's backup.
The point did move Southampton past Queens Park Rangers into 19th place in the Premier League table. Saints will play QPR next Saturday at Loftus Road in what may already be a relegation six-pointer.
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