SWANS PAY FOR MISSED CHANCES
MICHAEL Laudrup will spend the international break stewing over a missed opportunity after wasted chances cost Swansea City once again.
Swansea bossed enough of their game at Southampton to come away with a point at the every least.
But the failure to take advantage of their control cost Laudrup's men dear as Southampton, who had only a handful of clear-cut chances by comparison, capitalised on some sloppy Swansea defending to secure victory.
"We have been severely punished for a few mistakes — that is the way things are going for us right now," Laudrup said.
"Arsenal scored two goals when they had only three or four chances, and now Southampton have scored two from two or three.
"But at the other end, we need too many chances to score. We have a lot of players with more individual quality, but we need them to be more convinced they can score."
Laudrup reckons Swansea and Southampton may still be doing battle at the end of the season.
He believes the two clubs will be competing for eighth place come May, though the Saints have loftier ambitions.
Mauricio Pochettino keeps mentioning the Champions League, and challenged his players to maintain momentum for the rest of the season after victory over Swansea lifted them into the top four.
If every team performs like Swansea did in both penalty areas, Southampton will have a chance to stick with the big guns.
Realistically, however, Pochettino's men will not be left celebrating by sides who finish more clinically — and defend more resolutely — than their opponents yesterday did.
Swansea paid the price for a sloppy start on the South Coast, with Laudrup's men carrying on where they left off against St Gallen by giving the ball away too easily in the early stages.
Not only that, but Swansea were not sharp enough when it came to winning possession back.
As a result Southampton seized the early momentum, and it was little surprise when they edged in front on 19 minutes.
There had already been scares for Swansea, most notably when poor passing on the edge of their own box allowed Rickie Lambert to feed Dani Osvaldo.
On this occasion, Chico Flores just about did enough, hassling Osvaldo and forcing him to shoot over with the angle tight.
But there was no such luck for Swansea when Adam Lallana turned away from Ben Davies down the right.
His cross was only half-cleared by Flores, and Morgan Schneiderlin found Steve Davis on the edge of the box.
He lifted the ball into the path of Lallana, who had by now skated in off the flank, and the Southampton captain finished in style, flashing a shot across Michel Vorm and into the far corner of the net.
If there was anything positive for Laudrup about the goal, it was that it woke his team up.
Having been short of their best until this point, Swansea moved up a couple of gears.
Nathan Dyer was prominent in the visitors' response, the Southampton old boy giving Danny Fox a torrid afternoon.
He fed fit-again Angel Rangel to tee up Swansea's first chance, the right-back crossing to the far post.
Michu, wearing a rugby scrum cap to protect the cut he picked up last Thursday, headed goalwards but Artur Boruc saved at his near post.
Within a minute Boruc was in the action again, this time diving to his left to push away Jonjo Shelvey's well-struck 20-yarder.
Lambert's free-kick had Vorm scrambling at the other end just before the half hour, but by now it was nearly all Swansea.
Wilfried Bony's long-ranger was comfortably smothered by Boruc, but the £12 million man did everything but claim a classy assist a minute later.
Bony took out half the Southampton defence with a sweet backheel which sent Dyer racing into the box.
Swansea's right-winger turned on to his left foot to get away from Dejan Lovren – but watched in agony as his shot crashed off the post and rolled across the face of goal.
Already Laudrup must have been wondering how his team were not level – and the opportunities kept coming.
Perhaps the best move of the match ended with Shelvey feeding Dyer, whose right-wing cross was met by a firm Bony header.
Once more, Boruc saved Southampton.
Dyer came again, whipping in another inviting centre which Michu headed straight at Boruc.
The second period began with more Swansea pressure, and Wayne Routledge's clever touch meant another chance for Dyer to impress on his old stamping ground.
This time he shot first time — and Boruc watched on as the ball skewed harmlessly into the advertising hoardings behind the goal.
It was a similar story when Bony won a free-kick on the edge of the box but Shelvey got his angles wrong, lifting the ball over the wall but off target.
Swansea's control of the ball continued almost throughout, but their threat in the final third slowly dried up.
They were running out of time when Michu headed wide from Dyer's latest centre.
Southampton were denied a clinching second goal when Victor Wanyama touched home from Lallana's corner but Mike Dean blew up. Perhaps it was because the referee realised that the flag-kick should not have been awarded in the first place.
Justice was done one way or the other, but Swansea could not take advantage of the reprieve.
Their hopes of a revival were finally dashed seven minutes from the end when some desperate defending allowed Southampton to double their lead.
Boruc's punt forward was fairly aimless, but Jordi Amat misread the flight of the ball and only succeeded in heading back towards his own goal.
Flores might then have cleared, but opted instead to try to hold off Jay Rodriguez and control the ball.
The plan backfired spectacularly, as substitute Rodriguez brushed off Flores and rolled a shot beyond the helpless Vorm.
This was a sorry end for a Swansea side who missed Ashley Williams, who was only fit enough for the bench, and Leon Britton, who was mysteriously omitted once more.
With Williams and Britton around, Swansea look much more secure, and some added defensive nous would help when they return to Premier League action in a couple of weeks.
Laudrup will then look to the likes of Michu and Bony to convert the opportunities his team almost invariably create.
"We have seen lately that our opponents don't need many chances to score," the Dane said.
"If we could increase our percentages a bit, it would really help us."