Swansea 0-0 Reading: Swans denied second place as Reading hold on for goalless draw to finish the year in the playoff positions
- Swansea down to third after Brentford’s earlier victory against Bournemouth
- Reading goalkeeper Rafael denied Swansea striker Andre Ayew numerous times
- The Royals had the chance to go up to third with a victory, but settle for sixth
Swansea missed the chance to move second in the Championship table and two points behind leaders Norwich after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Reading at the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea had won their last two games and knew that a win would see them end the year in the automatic promotion spots and with a realistic chance to catch Norwich, who have faltered in the last week with a draw and loss.
But it wasn’t to be as Steve Cooper’s men missed a catalogue of big chances and were kept out heroically by Royals keeper Rafael Cabral, with a string of fine saves.
Swansea striker had chances to put Swansea in front, but Rafael Cabral was up to the task
Cooper’s side started the brightest, with Andre Ayew finding spaces in behind Reading’s defence. His early left-footed shot flew high and wide.
Ayew’s strike partner Jamal Lowe also saw a couple of chances go begging.
Swansea defender Marc Guehi had the best opportunity of the first half and should have scored when he skied a shot from six yards following a corner.
Cooper has described Guehi, on loan from Chelsea, as a Premier League player in waiting. He might achieve that with Swansea if they develop a bit more of a ruthless streak in 2021.
A frustrating evening for Steve Cooper, but it was enough for Swansea to finish 2020 in third
Reading, also promotion contenders, have won plaudits for their attacking displays this term, but they were limited to scraps in Wales. Swansea’s relentless pressing allowed them to sustain pressure.
The Royals’ best openings came as Swansea threw bodies forward. Ryan Bennett was shown a yellow card when Reading’s Michael Olise broke with pace with attacking options either side.
Bennett used his experience and stuck out a leg to trip Olise and terminate a dangerous counter-attack. It was the sort of tackle you could file under the ‘taking one for the team’ category.
Bennett got injured early in the first half and his replacement, Joel Latibeaudiere, nearly scored with his first touch. The defender’s header from close range was theatrically saved by Reading goalkeeper Rafael.
Rafael continued in fine form. With 70 minutes on the clock, Swansea were left scratching their heads asking what they had to do to score, when the goalkeeper acrobatically denied a close-range Ayew header.
Rafael, once of Napoli and capped three times by Brazil, has had his critics this season for some erratic decisions, but he was excellent for Veljko Paunović’s side here.
His opposite number Freddie Woodman also needed to be on form to keep the scores level. Reading left it late but started to throw men forward as the game entered the last 10 minutes.
Tom McIntyre had two big chances. The first he shanked a shot over the bar and, minutes later, he thumped a header goal-bound only to be denied by a strong Woodman save.
So the goalkeepers had the final say here and the final match of 2020 for the oft-dubbed ‘most exciting league in the world’ ended in a stalemate 0-0 draw.
SWANSEA (3-4-1-2): Woodman 6; Cabango 6, Bennett 7 (Latibeaudiere 53, 7), Guehi 6; Roberts 6, Fulton 7, Grimes 6.5, Bidwell 7; Smith 6 (Palmer 74, 6); A Ayew 6, Lowe 7 (Gyokeres 87).
Subs not used: Benda, Cooper, Dhanda, Garrick, Manning, Routledge.
Manager: Steve Cooper 6.
READING (4-2-3-1): Rafael 8; Esteves 6, Holmes 6, Morrison 7, McIntyre 6; Rinomhota 7, Laurent 6; Olise 7, Semedo 6.5 (Aluko 58, 6), Ejaria 6 (Richards 73, 6); Baldock 6.5 (Swift 67, 6).
Subs not used: Southwood, Dorsett, East, Melvin-Lambert, Watson.
Manager: Veljko Paunović 6.
Referee: David Webb 6.
Tom McIntyre (left) had a great chance to steal all three points for Reading with six minutes left
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