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110% Just not enough for gallant Swans - Napoli 3-1 Swansea

by BillyThomas95
Feb 28, 2014 3:35 PM GMT



After an intensely hard fought night in Naples, the fairytale of Swansea City's European endeavour has come to a heart rending end; and although the score line may suggest that the Italians swept aside the premier league struggler's, anyone who watched the game would know that this was far from the case.

From the outset it was clear that, bar one or two nerves, Garry Monk had not set up to bow down to an extremely hostile Stadio San Paolo, as his side briskly set the pace of the game when Pablo Hernadez fed former Middlesborough striker Marvin Emnes through on the right who's goal-bound shot had to be cleared off the line by Raul Albiol after just 11 minutes. The home side then also went close, only for 32m signing Gonzalo Higuain to blaze the ball high over the bar. But Lorenzo Insigne sharply turned the heat up for Swansea after a cutely taken lob found it's way over Michel Vorm and settled in the net after just 16 minutes. However, much to Swansea's boldness in the Europa League this season, a tournament that has been a welcome break from Premier League turmoil, the man who scored a peach against Valencia at the Mestalla in the group stages put them on level terms on the half hour mark. Wilfried Bony's intelligent flick found Jonathan De Guzman with a yard of space and his first time shot smuggled its way under Pepe Reina's grasp.

Monk's side came out with great confidence in the second half after a strong first half showing and given the performances on the pitch it was difficult to notice the gulf in quality between the two sides. The Welsh side only grew in confidence as they became ever closer to clinching a historic win with Hernadez and De Guzman both testing Reina with powerful efforts from 20 yards out. But it was Wilfried Bony, who'd had a tremendous game up front imposing his excessive strength and power on the match, who had the chance to put his side within touching distance of another historic night against FC Porto when Hernadez's sublime cross found the Ivorian with a free header 4 yards from goal, only for it to be directed straight into Reina's hands.

Although Swansea were largely the better side, as so often is the case it seemed as though they may well rue missing such gilt edged chances, and Higuain was on hand to deliver the devastating blow with 12 minutes to spare when Ben Davies failed to clear inside the box.

As Swansea desperately battled to ensure European survival, all of a sudden Napoli seemed very shaken for the final 15 minutes of the match with 3 minutes added time. Time and time again Swansea threw everything but the kitchen sink at Napoli who had 11 players in their own half for the remainder of the game. Reina was forced to beat away a powerful header from Tiendalli during a flurry of corners with only minutes remaining. However, with Ashley Williams pitched in Napoli's box as an aerial threat for the final push, it was almost inevitable that Swansea would be found out in a series of 3 on 2 counter attacks forged by the Italians. Vorm and co valiantly held off two almost certain goals before their resolve was finally beaten and their hearts broken when Gokhan Inhler slipped the ball in with almost the last kick of the game.

"I'm disappointed but I'm not going to put that on the boys," Monk said afterwards. "I could not have asked for any more. We had more than enough chances in the 180 minutes but my players should be proud of themselves. They can really hold their heads high and be proud of what we've done."
And so ends the European escapades of Swansea City, the first Premier League side to fall from one of Europe's elite tournaments. But it is not without great pride, tremendous memories and an obvious boost to the rest of their domestic campaign to stay in England's top flight; and after less than impressive performances from their Champions League counterparts, Swansea City can know that out of all the British clubs, that it is them that have restored peoples faith in the Barclay's Premier League as a formidable force throughout.