Ashley Williams lifts Swansea out of Premier League drop zone as new boss Francesco Guidolin looks on
Swans give new Italian head coach the perfect welcome present as they beat Watford 1-0 to climb out of the relegation zone
Swansea gave new head coach Francesco Guidolin the perfect welcome present as they beat Watford 1-0 to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone on Monday.
Guidolin was announced as Swansea head coach, to work alongside interim manager Alan Curtis, just hours before kick-off at the Liberty Stadium.
The 60-year-old Italian will have the final say on team selection, but he was in a watching brief only as he looked on from the stands before his first official fixture at Everton on Sunday.
Guidolin’s presence had the desired effect as Ashley Williams’s first half goal secured Swansea’s first win in their last five games in all competitions.
“It was one of our better performances of the season,” Curtis said. “We could have done with the second goal but it is a huge three points.
“The crowd played a huge part as well. Everyone is delighted and it is the start of a long road between now and the end of the season.
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“I’m sure the new manager will be more than pleased with what he saw.”
Swansea’s second success in their last 13 matches lifted them above Newcastle into 17th place and Guidolin will begin work with the south Wales club one point clear of the bottom three as he bids to maintain their top-flight status for a sixth successive season.
With only one victory in seven games under Curtis since he replaced the sacked Garry Monk, Swansea felt compelled to make a change and the early signs were promising.
Since leaving his role at Udinese last May, Guidolin had worked as a technical supervisor for the three teams belonging to the Pozzo family – Udinese, Watford and Granada – so he may have had a few interesting insights to pass along to Curtis.
Jack Cork fired over from long-range and Andre Ayew prodded a shot straight at Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes in a lively opening from the hosts.
After dominating the initial skirmishes, Curtis’s team were rewarded in the 27th minute when Wales international Williams rose highest to power in Ki Sung-yueng’s cross for the first goal by any Swansea defender since March 2014.
Watford didn’t have their first shot on target until a minute before half-time when Ben Watson’s free-kick was only cleared as far as Jurado, who shot straight at Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Watson was the provider again when Watford came close to equalising early in the second half, but this time Miguel Britos flicked a header narrowly over the crossbar from the midfielder’s inswinging free-kick.
The visitors were starting to hit their stride and Jurado was just off-target from the edge of the area after exchanging passes with Odion Ighalo.
Jurado forced Fabianski into a decent save as Watford pushed for a late equaliser but when Troy Deeney shot wide in stoppage-time, Guidolin was finally able to start celebrating.