Gorka Pintado netted twice as Swansea City beat FC Twente 3-1 at a friendly at the Liberty Stadium yesterday afternoon.
FC Twente substitute Nikita Rukavytsya equalised for the visitors before Swansea substitute Casey Thomas put Swansea ahead in the 77th minute. Thomas later won a penalty in added time, which Pintado converted for his second of the game.
Before the game, new Swansea manager Paulo Souza was unveiled to the fans. Wearing a slightly more modest blue jumper, white shirt, dark tie with dark navy trousers and pointy black shoes Souza received a warm applause from the Swansea crowd.
It was an unexpected line-up to say the least as Darren Pratley started, despite being supposedly injured, Matty Collins being preferred to Albert Serran to replace the injured Angel Rangel at right back and Mark Gower not being involved altogether.
During the first few minutes it was Twente who seemed to control possession as both teams looked to play their passing game. Stephen Dobbie harassed the opposition defence, looking a very sharp summer acquisition.
The possession remained in the Swansea half until a Twente cross resulted in an offside decision.
Swansea continued to give the ball away cheaply in the first half, with defensive errors many. Alan Tate urged forward play well, combining with Nathan Dyer down the left hand side on more than one occasion.
It was the visitors however that created the first meaningful chance of the game on 16 minutes. An FC Twente corner found an unmarked Douglas at the far post, his half volley rolled tamely into the arms of Swans ‘keeper Dorus De Vries.
A very animated Paulo Souza stood at the edge of his technical area for much of the first half.
In the 19th minute a chance fell again to the visitors, poor defending again from a corner led to an unmarked Ronnie Stam eight yards out, his shot high and wide.
Just a few minutes later, a lob pass from Twente number 6 Wout Brama led to an opening but the resulting shot, that rolled inches wide, would not have counted as the offside flag was raised.
Twente winger Miroslav Stoch was at it again in the 28th minute, his shot skimming the slick surface landing in the arms of Devries after beating Alan Tate on the second attempt.
Swansea`s first proper attempt on goal came in the 34th minute. Quick closing down from Swansea forwards meant new number twelve Nathan Dyer was through on goal, who passed to Stephen Dobbie on his right hand side, the eventual shot was straight at Twente keeper Sander Boschker.
Five minutes before the break the visitors again looked menacing as a shot from Miroslav Stoch drew a fingertip save out of DeVries who was called into action again from the resulting corner. Unmarked at the back post, Blaise N`Kufo fired straight at the Swans` Keeper. This turned out to be the last chance of the first half in a sustained period of Twente pressure.
It was wholesale changes for both teams at half time, Shaun Macdonald and Gorka Pintado coming on for the home team.
Welsh referee Huw Jones waved away penalty appeals in the 48th minute when Orlandi fell in the box. Seconds later a lively Pintado struck high and wide of goal. The Swansea number ten, Orlandi, seemed to work much better with substitutes Pintado and Macdonald than in his isolated wide role which he occupied in the first half.
Newly heard cries of “Paulo Souzas Barmy Army!” reigned down from the tesco stand after Darren Pratley opened up a chance for the more actively involved Andrea Orlandi after two fancy flicks in the box, Orlandi`s shot was tame and resulted in a goalkeepers ball. Sometimes we get the feeling these ‘fancy flicks` tend to over-complicate play when often a simple pass is better than the crafty backheel.
A goal from Gorka Pintado followed shortly after. Simple, clever midfield play resulted in a one-one one for the Swansea number 18, whose little dink over the goalkeeper bounced into the net, a very composed finished as he looks in strong contention for a regular first team place this season now he is fully fit once again.
The equaliser shortly after was disappointing to say the least. Poor defending and a scuffed clearance from Matty Collins led to Nikita Rukavytsya being allowed to blast the ball past Devries into the top corner of the Swansea goals. If this match is any indication of next season then it appears to be similar to the last; poor defensive mistakes leading to goals that Swansea city should not be conceding, or at least do not deserve to concede.
Young Joey Allen replaced Leon Britton on 66 minutes. The youngster showed much promise last season but struggled physically after coming on, finding himself being out-muscled frequently.
Swansea youngsters Casey Thomas, Ashley Richards and David Cornell were introduced with just over ten minutes left, three of ten Welshmen to grace to Liberty stadium pitch yesterday. Their arrival was greeted with a Gorka Pintado shot from 25 yards that stung the hands of keeper Sander Boschker.
After just four minutes on the pitch the confident Casey Thomas found himself in space at a Swansea corner, Swansea unusually scoring from a set piece rather than conceding here as Thomas headed to the ground, the pall then looped up and over the man on the post to give him his dream debut. Gorka Pintado remained one of the home teams key performers, even tracking back and clearing a Twente free kick in the Swansea half as well a perfectly timed slide tackle to retrieve the ball. This possession led to a Swansea chance, ‘El Toro` fed the ball to youngster Thomas whose storming run eventually ended in a penalty after he was fouled in the box. After the board showed three minutes of added time Pintado converted completing what turned out to be a convincing Swansea Display.
Right at the death reserve ‘keeper Cornell was called into action, he half claimed the ball from a Twente players feet, luckily fellow substitute Scott Evans was on hand to clear the danger.
After the game Huw Jenkins as thanks for participating in the friendly match presented FC Twente Head Coach Steve Maclaren with a plaque. McClaren said:
“It`s a pleasure to be back, despite today`s result. I wanted to come and see the progress this club has made over the last few years. The stadium is fantastic, and the players should have no complaints playing on a pitch like that, it was fantastic. I wish Swansea all the best for next season.”
FC Twente start their campaign in nine days time whilst next up for the Swans is a home friendly to Spanish side Almeria on 1 August.
Report by Joshua Clark.
Dorus De Vries – 6
one great save but little else to do, confident display.
Ashley Williams – 6
A few odd loose passes. Often chose to play long ball which often resulted in losing possession.
Alan Tate – 7
Much attacking threat as well as being solid and controlling defensively. Took forward initiative a lot and linked well with Dyer on the left.
Nathan Dyer – 7
Energetic display, very frenetic and looking to steal the ball whenever possible, good performance deserving of a first team place this season.
Joe Allen – 5
will be disappointed with his performance yesterday, will have to fight harder to maintain his first team place this season especially with Bodde back from long-term injury.
Casey Thomas – 8
one of the young substitutes that shone, very promising, proved that further player purchases may not be necessary if these young players continue to perform like this, will be useful cover and hopfully can challenge for a place in the starting line up. Scoring one and setting up another is not a bad return for a debut performance.
Gorka Pintado – 8
Man of the Match performance from the 30 year-old Spaniard; chased the ball, created chances, scored 2 goals – The man to replace Jason Scotland? Certainly proved he can fill his boots with this display.