Sunderland vs. Swansea City, Premier League 2013: Final score 0-0, Black Cats hold off dominant Swans

Stu Forster

Swansea City dominated their game against Sunderland, but couldn't put the ball in the net against a determined defence.

As the cliché goes, the problem with qualifying for big cup finals in advance is that since nobody wants to get injured and thus plays timidly, league form immediately drops away. On that basis, it would be difficult to tell which of these two sides were lining up to face the mighty Bradford City in the League Cup Final.

Despite that honour being Swansea's, the first half belonged to the visitors as they started on the front foot, albeit rather scrappily. Other than a half-hearted penalty appeal from Itay Shechter after a tackle from John O'Shea, Swansea's best chance came as a result of a counter-attack following a rare Sunderland foray into enemy territory, Nathan Dyer using his pace to get clear and tee up Michu, but the Spaniard saw his goalbound effort blocked.

As Swansea gained more of a foothold in the game, they began to get more men forward, and Chico Flores made the most of the freedom as he forced Simon Mignolet into a fine save after a clever step-over to make room. Yet the problems that have occasionally frustrated Swansea as a side-effect of their more expansive game this season held them back - too often the Swans monopolised possession but could not craft any clear chances and resorted to long-range efforts from Flores and Jonathan De Guzman.

Sunderland initially started the second half the better side, but once again Swansea came back on the attack, Michu turning provider as he laid on a chance for Nathan Dyer, but the winger couldn't produce a finish worthy and the chance disappeared.

Swansea then brought on Sunderland transfer target Danny Graham to attempt to steal a winner, and their top scorer of last season almost bagged a late winner, but his header was well-saved by Mignolet.

In all, despite being the better side, Swansea's struggles to break down tight defences will mean that this game seems like two points dropped for the South Wales side. Sunderland were largely awful, failing to put anything together, but a resilient enough defence was enough to keep their impotent opponents out. Martin O'Neill's side have to improve.

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