Swansea City 2, Reading 2: That's Moore like it as Swans recover
SERGIO Garcia has experienced more dramatic sporting weekends.
The one before this, for example.
The European Ryder Cup winner did not finish this one dancing a jig on the 18th green but, watching on from one of the Liberty's corporate boxes, he was very definitely on the edge of his seat.
In golfing terms, Swansea City drove down the middle on Saturday, hooked their second shot into the trees and then got and up and down in spectacular fashion for a par.
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Swansea and Reading finished up all square, which was not ideal given that Michael Laudrup had billed the game as one of the "three or four" most significant fixtures of the season.
It seems Garcia, Swansea's newest fan, and the rest of the club's followers may have to get used to undulating matches, where emotions swing one way then the other, while the Dane is in charge.
"I don't have a problem winning 3-2 or 5-4," Swansea's manager said on Saturday evening.
Fasten your seatbelts — keeping up with Laudrup's Swansea could be a bumpy ride.
There are some managers whose philosophy is to focus their team's energy on earning a clean sheet.
Once that is achieved, they will see if there is a chance to do some damage at the other end of the field.
That does not appear to be the Laudrup way.
He accepts that his team are going to concede goals. All he asks is that they do it less often — and that they score a few themselves.
"We have an average of two goals against us in each game at the moment, and that's too many," he said.
"If the opposition score one goal then okay, that's not so bad.
"But if the average is two then we need two to draw or three to win.
"That's too much — it puts pressure on the whole team, not just our strikers."
Had Swansea's forward players taken more of their opportunities against Reading, Laudrup would have been celebrating victory despite the concession of two goals.
As it is, despite a stirring fightback, Swansea have gone five games without a maximum for the first time in the Premier League and their boss was not quite sure what to make of it.
Was this a point gained or two dropped?
"Good question," Laudrup said after a pause.
"I think it's impossible to answer.
"You can say it is a point gained, but you can say it is two lost.
"I imagine a lot of people at half-time were saying this is another defeat for Swansea, but then when we got back to 2-2, I imagine a lot of people were saying Swansea can win this game."
In the grand scheme of things, failing to take all three points against a Reading side who, at this early stage, look like relegation candidates is a major setback.
But on the other hand, Swansea have to be pleased that they took something from a game in which they found themselves 2-0 down at the break.
"We showed character to keep playing the way we do, and that character can give you points which make a huge difference in a season," Laudrup added.
His message was for his team to produce more of the same when they return to action after the international break.
Because after three straight defeats — and worrying performances against Everton and Stoke — this was much more like it.
For at least two-thirds of the game, Swansea dominated Reading. They played with much more purpose, with good tempo in possession and desire to snuff out their opponents when they had the ball.
As a result Reading created very little, and hence it was hard to fathom how the Royals established a two-goal lead.
"We played well but were losing, and I was thinking 'What's happening?'," Laudrup conceded.
"Maybe when we went 1-0 down, after three straight defeats, we could have just pumped the ball forward.
"We could have played with no risk. Then things got even more difficult when they got the second, but we kept doing what we are good at and that is important to remember.
"We have to play like we did in the first 20 or 30 minutes and like we did in the second half in all our games."
After a toothless effort at Stoke, what pleased Laudrup most here was Swansea's chance count.
They created a succession of opportunities, and were only denied victory by a mix of bad fortune, lax finishing and fine goalkeeping.
On six minutes Ashley Williams flashed a header across the face of goal, after 11 Danny Graham's effort was pushed over by Alex McCarthy.
The tone had been set.
Wayne Routledge ought to have opened the scoring but poked a shot too close to McCarthy, then a second effort hit the arm of Adrian Mariappa but no penalty was given.
Swansea were in charge, yet Reading led when their first shot of the day, from Pavel Pogrebnyak, squirmed through Michel Vorm's grasp.
The Dutchman was soon beaten again, this time by a delicious Noel Hunt volley, and the writing seemed to be on the wall for a Swansea side who had not scored in seven halves of Premier League football.
The drought should have been broken two minutes into the second period, when substitute Luke Moore powered through the heart of Reading's defence but was denied by McCarthy.
Next Moore's header was pushed on to the post by the young Reading keeper, then came an even better save to divert Ki Sung-Yueng's low drive on to the woodwork. McCarthy saved yet again, getting down to his right to keep out Williams's header, before Swansea finally broke through 19 minutes from time thanks to Michu's diving header.
McCarthy saved — again — from Moore before the equaliser came, Routledge exchanging passes with his centre-forward and then drilling home at the near post.
Swansea should probably have had a penalty when Nicky Shorey handled Pablo Hernandez's effort, and they might have won it anyway had the Spanish international winger not sent the follow-up over the bar.
But it was Reading who pressed last, Jem Karacan chipping goalwards only for Williams to head out from under his bar.
A goal then would have been a hammer blow for Swansea, who already felt hard done by enough with the scores level.
Laudrup's team deserved to win this game, and justice would have been done had Hernandez taken his chance at the end.
It would also have kept the headline writers happy had Hernandez, the partner of Garcia's sister, capped a Swansea comeback a week after Europe's revival in the Ryder Cup.
At least Garcia and company had something to smile about at the end, as Swansea reflected on a positive performance even if they could not celebrate the result they wanted.
In the Premier League, there are tougher tests than Reading lurking around the corner for Laudrup's men.
But after a few difficult weeks, this was much more like it.