Slick Swans too hot for Villa

The Welsh side went ahead in the fourth minute when Stephen Warnock

got in a mix-up and gave the ball straight to Nathan Dyer, who took

it on before firing past Brad Guzan. Wayne Routledge then made it

2-0 shortly after half-time, pouncing when Danny Graham hit the

post, to seal a maiden victory on the road for the Swans since

their promotion to the top flight last summer and condemn their

opponents to a fourth successive defeat at Villa Park. The result

brought Alex McLeish’s team crashing back down to earth after their

shock 3-1 win at Chelsea on New Year’s Eve and sees them slip to

12th in the table, overtaken by Swansea, who are up to 11th after

building on Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham with another

impressive performance. As anticipated, Swans boss Brendan Rodgers

refreshed his side again by making a host of adjustments from the

Spurs game, restoring the likes of Graham, Leon Britton and Angel

Rangel to the starting line-up. Villa’s record signing Darren Bent,

who had come off the bench to score against Chelsea after missing

three matches with a thigh problem, came in for Marc Albrighton in

what was the only change for the midlanders. Having finished 2011

on such a high, Villa made a terrible start to the new year as

Swansea snatched an early lead following a blunder by Warnock. The

defender needlessly lost possession in his own half and Dyer took

full advantage, collecting the loose ball, driving into the box and

firing a shot into the corner of the net. The hosts looked to make

a quick response, but Gabriel Agbonlahor appeared to be put off by

his team-mate Bent as he headed Charles N’Zogbia’s cross wide, and

Swansea then went close to doubling their advantage, Andrea Orlandi

given the space to advance before flashing a strike across Guzan’s

goal. Stephen Ireland saw an effort deflected behind and James

Collins a header saved as Villa attempted to get back on level

terms, but a cross-cum-shot from Dyer in between issued another

warning at the other end. Warnock suffered more embarrassment just

before the half hour mark as he was left for dead by Dyer, whose

cut-back was met by Graham to bring a stop out of Guzan. N’Zogbia

blazed a free-kick over the bar and Swansea were soon breaking

forward again, this time Orlandi teeing up Graham, who sent his

shot just wide. Villa struggled to muster much in way of reply and

were grateful that the damage was not greater by the time the

interval came. Within just two minutes of the restart, though, the

hosts had fallen further behind, with another error on their part

playing a role. Guzan sent his goal-kick to a white shirt and the

ball came to former Villa man Routledge, who burst forward, laid on

a pass for Graham and then reacted swiftly when the striker hit the

post, tucking away the rebound to register his first goal for

Swansea. There was no let-up, with Orlandi almost slipping in

Graham, and Richard Dunne summed up Villa’s frustrations when he

shoved over Dyer, picking up a booking in the process. After

N’Zogbia’s shot was blocked and Dunne headed over, it was then the

Villa fans who vented their anger, making their displeasure known

at McLeish’s decision to substitute Ireland for Albrighton. Ciaran

Clark tried to turn and shoot in the Swansea box, but the ball was

taken away from him before he could pull the trigger. The visitors

continued to threaten, with Dunne doing just enough to ensure

Graham’s shot could not trouble Guzan and the goalkeeper then

managing to stop Joe Allen squeezing through. N’Zogbia nearly

pulled one back at the death, but his shot hit the goal frame and

the boos rang out around the ground from Villa fans at the final

whistle as another home loss was confirmed.