English Premiership

Guzan pushes Villa closer to the drop

Remi Garde (TEAMtalk)
Remi Garde (TEAMtalk)

Swansea - Aston Villa slipped closer to relegation as Brad Guzan's howler was punished by Federico Fernandez in Swansea's 1-0 win over the Premier League's bottom club on Saturday.

Remi Garde's side look certain to return to the second tier for the first time since 1988 after a miserable campaign which hit a fresh low when Villa goalkeeper Guzan gifted the second half winner to Fernandez at the Liberty Stadium.

Woeful Villa have now lost their last six matches and sit 12 points from safety with only seven games left to avoid their first relegation in 29 years.

With 18 goals conceded in their last six games, Villa, whose much maligned chief executive Tom Fox abandoned the sinking ship when he announced his resignation this week, are heading towards the Championship with barely even a token gesture of defiance.

Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin was back on the bench after missing the previous three matches because of a chest infection and his return was perfectly timed as the hosts, now 11 points above the relegation zone, effectively guaranteed their survival with a third win from their last four games.

Villa's tally of 16 points was the third lowest in Premier League history after 30 games, so it was hardly surprising that even Garde appeared on the verge of giving up this week when he talked of their almost 'impossible mission' to survive.

Villa desperately needed a fast start to restore a little of their shattered confidence and they had an early sight of goal when Joleon Lescott dragged his shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.

Villa appealed for a penalty when Rudy Gestede flicked on Alan Hutton's long throw and it hit Ashley Williams' arm, but the contact was ruled accidental by referee Mike Dean.

Garde's side were on top and Ciaran Clark looped a header just wide from Carles Gil's corner before Gestede tested Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski with a header of his own.

For all Villa's dominance, they remained an accident waiting to happen in defence and Aly Cissokho, already on a booking, was fortunate to avoid a red card when he hauled back Modou Barrow soon after the interval.

That narrow escape should have served as warning for Villa to refocus, but the team with the worst away record in the division were sunk in typically shambolic fashion in the 54th minute.

Gylfi Sigurdsson whipped a free-kick towards Fernandez and, with Villa sloppily leaving the Argentina defender unmarked, Guzan raced out to try to punch clear.

But instead of making good contact, the American only managed to weakly palm the ball onto Fernandez and it cannoned off his shoulder into the now unguarded net.

Lescott should have done better than head straight at Fabianski in a fitting summary of Villa's tame attempt to hit back.

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