Llorente strikes to put a spring in step of un­der-fire Bradley

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - SPORT | PREMIER LEAGUE - By James Cor­ri­gan at the Lib­erty Sta­dium

Bob Bradley’s Lib­erty shack­les are well and truly off. Hav­ing come into just his eighth game in charge with whis­pers about his fu­ture em­ploy­ment, the Swansea man­ager saw his side not only es­cape the bot­tom of the ta­ble but also the rel­e­ga­tion zone with their sec­ond home win in suc­ces­sion.

In­stead, it was David Moyes trudg­ing away as Sun­der­land re­turned to the base­ment po­si­tion. How quickly and harshly the Premier League shifts its spot­light. As em­phat­i­cally as the home side re­cov­ered from their five-goal drub­bing at White Hart Lane, so the vis­i­tors just as dra­mat­i­cally cast off their rous­ing form of three wins in their four pre­ced­ing games.

There was so much to con­cern Moyes and so much to please Bradley. Of course, the Amer­i­can would have en­joyed see­ing Fer­nando Llorente en­hance his stand­ing as the club’s bur­geon­ing go-to centre-for­ward with two goals. But after watch­ing nine go past Lukasz Fabi­an­ski in Swansea’s last two games, the clean-sheet was his shin­ing light in this win­ter gloom.

“That was es­sen­tial – we have been con­ced­ing too many,” Bradley said. “The fo­cus was good through­out and it’s nice to be out of the bot­tom three. I don’t spend all the week wor­ry­ing about me. It’s all about the work. Play­ers used the word pride a lot when we talked this week, we asked what it looks like on the pitch, in­ten­sity, clean-sheets, don’t just talk about it, turn it into some­thing more. This was a good re­sponse.”

This buys Bradley and his Amer­i­can own­ers some time and, at the best, could pro­vide the man­age­ment with their crit­i­cal turn­ing point as they go into the pe­riod in which Bradley says “will tell us a lot about where we are go­ing this sea­son”.

This did not have the ex­hil­a­ra­tion of the 5-4 thriller against Crys­tal Palace two weeks ago. Yet Bradley will say Amen to that. In fact, for so long there was no the­atre what­so­ever, but that was all to change in the 50th minute.

Gylfi Sig­urds­son’s penalty was ac­tu­ally the first shot on tar­get. Up un­til that point the medi­ocrity had threat­ened to re­sem­bled the driz­zle and be un­re­lent­ing. Swansea had done what they do and re­tained the pos­ses­sion nicely enough with the re­turn­ing Leon Brit­ton pulling the strings and once again prov­ing his worth with a vin­tage dis­play, but other than two Sig­urds­son free-kicks from out wide – headed over by Al­fie Maw­son and Jordi Amat – they man­aged to cre­ate very lit­tle.

But then, nei­ther did Sun­der­land, re­ly­ing al­most solely on the guile of Jer­main De­foe. The vet­eran turned Maw­son in­side out be­fore fir­ing over with his left and, after a fine pass through from Pa­trick van Aan­holt, watched as his ef­fort curled around the post.

Less than a minute later, ref­eree Chris Paw­son was up the other end, point­ing to the spot after Ja­son De­nayer had raised his arms and turned his head to block Wayne Rout­ledge’s cross. Man-ofthe-match Sig­urds­son coolly con­verted and the hosts were away. Moyes was ag­grieved. “I thought the player [Rout­ledge] was too close [to De­nayer] when he hit it,” he said. “It was a tight game and that was the turn­ing point.”

Four min­utes later they dou­bled their ad­van­tage cour­tesy of a clever fin­ish from Llorente. He ran across to meet Sig­urds­son’s lowly-struck cor­ner and cutely flicked it past Jor­dan Pick­ford. Be­fore and after, the Sun­der­land goal­keeper made two accomplished saves, first from Modou Bar­row, after yet an­other great Sig­urds­son pass, and then from Amat. And how Llorente fell over with the goal beg­ging, grav­ity might only ever know, but soon enough the Span­ish in­ter­na­tional was scor­ing again – when neatly head­ing home Jef­fer­son Mon­tero’s cross – and his rep­u­ta­tion has never been so up­right in South Wales, with four goals in the last two home games. “Fer­nando has the pres­ence and the ex­pe­ri­ence as a win­ner,” Bradley said.

Span­ish gold: Fer­nando Llorente has scored four times in Swansea’s last two home games

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