FERNANDO LLORENTE’S vital header moved Swansea out of the relegation places with just two Premier League matches left to play.
The Spaniard climbed highest in the first half to bag his 13th goal of the season as the Liberty Stadium breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The Swans went into the clash knowing three points would lift them above Hull after their home defeat to Sunderland.
And the deadlock was broken on 28 minutes after a cagey start when Jordan Ayew’s looping cross found the head of Llorente from close range.
Everton came out with greater attacking intent in the second period and Kevin Mirallas should have pounced on loose ball in the box but was caught on his heels.
Ayew almost doubled Swansea’s advantage when his sliced volley clipped the outside of the post from 12 yards.
Substitute Leroy Fer was then denied a golden opportunity when his close range effort was superbly thwarted by the keeper.
The Toffees piled bodies forward in search of a dramatic equaliser but some terrific defending, inspired by Alfie Mawson, meant the home side hung on for three precious points.
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- Swansea were boosted by the pre-match news that relegation rivals Hull lost to Sunderland – and they made a good start against Everton.
- A handful of petty Swansea fans dished out the boos towards former captain Ashley Williams, but it was all rather tame.
- …A bit like the loan pitch invader who ran on and hugged Romelu Lukaku and then got escorted off by the stewards.
- Fernando Llorente’s goal was not a classic but it could be HUGE in helping the Swans stay up.
- Mason Holgate made a mega block to deny Alfie Mawson a certain goal just moments later.
- Jordan Ayew was desperately unlucky to see his effort strike the post and ping out for a goalkick.
- Everton should have been punished for a second time when Llorent connected with another Gylfi Sigurdsson corner, but Maarten Stekelenburg made a good save.
- One of the loudest cheers all evening was for Leon Britton after the Swansea captain again ran himself into the ground before being subbed.
- Everton’s Stekelenburg made another great save, this time to stop Leroy Fer scoring with his first touch.
13 May – Sunderland (A) – Prem
21 May – West Brom (H) – Prem
12 May – Watford (H) – Prem
21 May – Arsenal (A) – Prem
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
Swansea: Fabianski 6, Naughton 7, Fernandez 7, Mawson 7, Olsson 6, Ki 7 (Fer 75, 6) Britton 6 (Cork 73, 6), Carroll 7, Sigurdsson 7, Llorente 7 (Baston 87, 6) Ayew 7
Subs not used: Nordfeldt, Narsingh, Amat, Kingsley
Everton: Stekelenburg 6, Holgate 6 (Kenny 78, 6) Jagielka 6, Williams 7, Baines 6, Gueye 6, Barry 6 (Valencia 65, 6) Davies 5, Calvert-Lewin 6 (Barkley 46, 6) Mirallas 6, Lukaku 6
Subs not used: Robles, Williams, Pennington, Lookman
Goals scored: Llorente (28)
STAR MAN: JORDAN AYEW
WHAT THEY SAID
Swansea boss Paul Clement: “It is one of my proudest moments today. What a fantastic, gritty performance. It was so important we got that result today after what happened at Hull.
“We have hit some form both offensively and especially defensively. We have played against really good opposition and seven points from three games is a fantastic tally.
“It gave us a lift before the game knowing that result had gone in our favour, we knew if we did something special we could get out of the relegation zone.”
Everton boss Ronald Koeman:“The difference is one goal, we had maybe more ball possession, it was difficult to create open chances. It was not good enough.
“The final part, we had to be a little bit more aggressive in the box. The problem is in the last few weeks to create chances – we don’t score in the last three games.”