Swansea captain Ashley Williams gave a towering defensive performance as his side held firm against in-form Everton in a 0-0 Premier League draw at the Liberty Stadium.
Williams made a string of crucial blocks that ensured Everton left south Wales frustrated after a contest in which they had the better chances but found Garry Monk’s side in resilient mood.
Everton picked up where they left off in their 3-1 win over Chelsea with a confident display of attacking football, with Ross Barkley and Steven Naismith providing chance after chance for Romelu Lukaku.
But Williams led from the back as Swansea maintained their unbeaten home record in 2015-16, although they were unable to secure a first league win over Everton , who had substitute Kevin Mirallas sent off late on for a cynical foul on Modou Barrow.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez made two changes to the side that beat Chelsea, starting hat-trick hero Naismith, and giving Tyias Browning a full Premier League debut in place of the injured Seamus Coleman, while Martinez’s former team-mate Monk drafted Jefferson Montero into the Swansea line-up.
Browning’s first task was to shackle Montero, but the Ecuadorian quickly forced the defender into a poor tackle from behind that drew a warning from the referee.
Bafetimbi Gomis shot wide, before latching onto a loose Gareth Barry header to break clean through on goal, and only a brilliant one-handed save by Tim Howard kept the scores level.
But Everton soon turned the tide and Williams had to be alert to stop Naismith with a crucial block as the game opened up, with the Swansea skipper was on hand again to deny Lukaku when he was played in by Barkley an opener failed to materialise before half-time.
The breakthrough almost came straight after the interval when Barkley got in behind Kyle Naughton, only for yet another Williams block to prevent Arouna Kone from converting.
Barkley continued to terrorise Naughton, beating him again to set up Brendon Galloway for a near miss, while at the other end John Stones, making his 50th Everton appearance, successfully shackled Gomis every time Swansea tried to pick him out.
On the one occasion Williams was caught out, Barry slotted a through ball under his nose and Lukaku should have scored but instead blasted over from 15 yards.
Williams’ hero act continued as he cleared Lukaku’s mis-hit off the line, but Howard had to be alert at the other end as Montero tested him with a fizzing drive.
Naismith was inches from scoring after good work from Gerard Deulofeu, and it was predictably Williams who blocked Galloway’s ensuing shot as Swansea kept the door shut.
Mirallas replaced Barkley in stoppage time, but the Belgian’s only notable involvement was to go over the top of the ball and catch Barrow on the ankle – earning a red card and capping a deeply disappointing day for the visitors.
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