Andre Ayew won a penalty and scored the winner as Francesco Guidolin’s reign as Swansea City head coach started with a 2-1 triumph over Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday.
The Italian was brought in to take first-team duties from Alan Curtis last week and led the Swans to successive Premier League wins for the first time this season, moving them four points clear of the bottom three.
Ayew starred in Swansea’s strong start to the season and was back to his effervescent best on Merseyside, although Everton’s defence – which has shipped more goals on home soil than any other side – was also culpable in defeat.
Poor play between John Stones and Tim Howard gifted Gylfi Sigurdsson the penalty from which he opened the scoring, while a cruel deflection off the England defender left his goalkeeper helpless for the winner.
Gareth Barry had equalised for Everton in the first half, but late misses from Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman cost manager Roberto Martinez, who also lost Muhamed Besic and Kevin Mirallas to injury.
Everton once again flattered to deceive and another disappointing outing for the Toffees leaves them languishing in 12th place.
The hosts came close to breaking the deadlock just five minutes in, Besic surged through midfield unchallenged but his left-footed effort from 20 yards hit the post before bouncing wide.
After a positive start, Everton’s familiar frailties at the back cost them the lead.
Ayew pounced on Stones’ weak back-pass and drew a reckless foul from Howard inside the penalty area, allowing Sigurdsson to put the Swans ahead with a confident effort from the spot.
The hosts quickly replied, though, with Barry beating Jack Cork to a corner from the impressive Gerard Deulofeu and finding the net with a delicate attempt with the outside of his left boot.
Swansea restored their lead again in controversial fashion in the 34th minute.
Ashley Williams clearly used his hand to end an Everton attack, but referee Anthony Taylor allowed play to go on and the Swansea captain launched a counter-attack that released Ayew in the left channel and the Ghanaian’s snap-shot from a narrow angle took a wicked deflection off Stones to beat the stranded Howard.
Howard redeemed himself somewhat as he spurned Wayne Routledge one-on-one, and Everton were quickly on top in their search for an equaliser.
Top scorer Lukaku was central in their efforts, curling wide before coming inches from converting an inviting right-wing delivery from Deulofeu, who routinely offered chances on a plate for Everton’s mis-firing front line.
A weak header was comfortably saved by Lukasz Fabianski as Lukaku racked up a fourth-straight goalless outing and defeat was compounded by two misses from point-blank range by Coleman, the second with the last kick of the game.
Key Opta stats:
– Swansea won their first ever league match against Everton, at the 22nd attempt (D8 L13).
– Goodison Park has now seen 46 Premier League goals this season, more than any other ground.
– Roberto Martinez’s side have won just three of their last 14 Premier League home games.
– Swansea have scored exactly twice in all eight games in which Andre Ayew has scored.
– Francesco Guidolin emulated Michael Laudrup and Garry Monk by winning his first Premier League game in charge of the Swans.
– Four of Gylfi Sigurdsson’s five Premier League goals this season have come from a set-piece situation (3 penalties, 1 direct free-kick).