19th January, 2016
Swansea City climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a gritty win against Watford.
With new head coach Francesco Guidolin watching from the stands, Swansea edged an uneventful first half thanks to Ashley Williams’ header.
Watford’s Miguel Britos and Jose Manuel Jurado had chances to equalise but the hosts defended stoically to hold on.
Swansea, who are now 17th in the table, almost got a second but substitute Bafetimbi Gomis hit a post late on.
Having started the season in sparkling fashion, the Hornets’ fourth straight loss leaves them eight points above the bottom three.
The spectre of relegation still looms large for Swansea but this crucial victory sees the Welsh side leapfrog Newcastle to go one point above the bottom three.
Having won only one of their previous 11 Premier League games, Swansea sought to arrest their decline by appointing former Udinese manager Guidolin to work alongside interim boss Alan Curtis.
On an evening of new arrivals, former Chelsea midfielder Gabriele Ambrosetti also joined the Swans’ coaching staff and Watford announced the signing of Morocco forward Nordin Amrabat from Malaga.
Guidolin may not have been entertained by a drab first half, but he will have been encouraged to see Swansea take the lead for only the fifth time in 22 league matches this season.
After a corner was half-cleared, Ki Sung-yueng’s fine cross found Williams, who headed in firmly for the first top-flight goal by a Swansea defender since he struck against Everton in March 2014.
Watford were aiming to recapture their early-season form, a run of three successive league defeats denting what had been an unlikely push for the European places.
Strikers Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney had scored 19 league goals between them prior to this match – the same amount as the entire Swansea team – but their influence was limited as Watford created precious few chances, their best falling to Britos, who nodded narrowly over from Ben Watson’s whipped free-kick.
Sensing only a third win from 18 Premier League games was within their grasp, Swansea retreated and had to withstand heavy pressure from the visitors late on.
Jurado had two good chances for the Hornets but fired wide on both occasions.
The Swansea defenders threw themselves at the flurry of Watford shots, and they almost scored a second in added time but Gomis’ shot came back off the post.