Crystal Palace v Swansea City match report
Crystal Palace 0 Swansea City 2
BANNED from the dugout, Ian Holloway was forced to watch from the stands as Swansea City coasted home at Crystal Palace.
And he was still more animated than Michael Laudrup.
Even on the difficult afternoons, Laudrup rarely looks ruffled on the touchline.
During a win as comfortable as this, the Swansea manager was — just like his team — on cruise control.
Holloway fidgeted in a corporate box, wriggling around in his seat as Swansea ran rings round his team.
The man who might have been Swansea boss — he came close to getting the job when Laudrup took over — kept speaking into a phone, urging his assistant to deliver instructions to the Palace players.
The messages did not work, for the Londoners were outclassed by a Swansea side who have had a fabulous week.
First they fought back to take a point off Liverpool, then they hammered Valencia on one of the great Swansea nights.
Laudrup wondered if his team would have any energy — both physical and mental — left for Palace, but there was no sign of a European hangover here.
"We came back from Romania at 5am to win at West Brom, and on Friday we didn't get to bed until 4am and yet we've come and won at Crystal Palace," the Dane said.
"And if the win seemed easy from the outside, it was because we played so well.
"I have seen some other Crystal Palace games — against Sunderland and even at Old Trafford — and they are not a bad team. So you have to give credit to my players. They were fantastic."
If Swansea were feeling a little weary after that unforgettable trip to Spain, they did not show it.
Laudrup made five changes to the side which started at the Mestalla, and his rejigged line-up looked fresh from the outset.
They needed all of 80 seconds to cut Palace open, Chico Flores starting the attack by finding Michu, who in turn fed Jonjo Shelvey.
His ball into the penalty area was a little heavy, but Wayne Routledge's touch teed up the onrushing Michu.
Palace keeper Julian Speroni stuck out a leg in a bid to block Michu's driven shot, but the ball looped up into the net and Swansea were in front.
This was the fastest Premier League goal of the season — beating Shelvey's opener against Liverpool a week ago, which took seven seconds longer.
Already feeling relaxed in the technical area, Laudrup could get used to his team's new-found habit of scoring early.
Swansea would canter through a first half in which the biggest frustration — just as had been the case in Valencia — was the failure to increase the lead.
With Palace sleeping, Swansea were almost two up inside four minutes when Flores met Shelvey's deep corner with a volley which came back off the post.
Even at this early stage, it seemed Holloway's team would be in for a long afternoon. And they were.
Swansea were comfortable when defending and menacing on the ball, with the inspirational Michu carrying the attack to Palace.
Fed by Routledge, he tried to tee up Alvaro Vazquez with a flick which was cut out. Michu might have been better off shooting himself.
He did go for goal on the half hour, when his well-struck half-volley ricocheted narrowly over the woodwork. Palace were clinging on, although a well-worked set-piece might have changed the mood. Adlene Guedioura's long-ranger was travelling — but flew straight into the arms of Michel Vorm.
Swansea were soon on the front foot again, Angel Rangel unleashing a classy volley from 20 yards which Speroni parried to safety.
Palace's threat was minimal by comparison, though there was a scare before the break when Adrian Mariappa whipped in a cross from the right.
Marouane Chamakh rose at the near post but made no contact, then Rangel hooked clear with Cameron Jerome waiting to pounce.
For the most part, however, Swansea's defenders were untroubled by May's Championship play-off winners.
And the visitors were all but out of sight just three minutes into the second half when Palace were breached again.
Inevitably, Michu was involved. Fed by Shelvey near the centre circle, he waltzed round Danny Gabbidon's challenge before rolling a ball in behind the home back four for Vazquez to chase.
The Swansea debutant shot from a tight angle and Speroni saved.
The ball rebounded to Vazquez, and this time he looked up and rolled a clever a ball into the path of Nathan Dyer.
Swansea's right-winger made no mistake, sweeping his shot into the net from close range.
Now it was cigar time for Laudrup, whose team were barely troubled by a Palace side who lived up to their billing as one of the relegation favourites.
Swansea, meantime, are developing into a team who will not prompt raised eyebrows every time they win on the road.
This was their third straight travelling triumph — and if anything victory should have been achieved by an even greater margin.
Michu had a shot blocked, Ben Davies tried his luck from distance but shot too close to Speroni.
Vazquez then passed up a golden opportunity to mark his first game in English football with a goal but, when Palace failed to deal with Michu's pass, the new man shot horribly over.
Swansea will hope their deadline-day recruit finds his radar when it matters, for the miss counted for nothing here.
There were further opportunities — Michu tried a lob which was not high enough to clear Speroni, while substitute Alejandro Pozuelo saw his 25-yard drive gathered by the Argentine in the Palace goal.
Swansea's failure to find a third goal was not a problem.
Palace never really looked capable of fighting back once Michu had put Swansea in front.
"Before this week started I thought this would be the most difficult game because we were travelling after two big games," Laudrup said.
"It always helps when you score early on, but I thought we dominated from almost the first minute to the last.
"The only thing which I can be a bit disappointed about is that we did not score more goals.
"But it's difficult not to be pleased when you win 2-0."