Swansea City AFC have qualified for the spring phase of a UEFA club competition for the first time despite falling to defeat against FC St Gallen in Switzerland.
Michael Laudrup's side controlled the first half but failed to find the net and met with stern resistance after the restart. St Gallen sealed their second victory of the group stage when Marco Mathys turned in an inviting cross from Sébastien Wüthrich ten minutes from time. That left the visiting fans tentatively checking events in the other group game at Valencia CF, where a 1-1 draw was enough to confirm Swansea's passage to the round of 32.
The Welsh club started positively, in keeping with the mood of their supporters packing the town centre during the day. The foggy conditions proved no hindrance to their cohesive play as Roland Lamah's shot curled past the far post and Jonjo Shelvey chiselled out space for a shot that was met by the grateful arms of Marcel Herzog.
Wayne Routledge meandered into the penalty area only to be halted by Stéphane Besle's well-timed challenge, and Lamah again went close as Swansea struggled to convert time on the ball into clear goalscoring chances. On the opposite bench, Jeff Saibene also suffered frustration with his striking options when Goran Karanovic hobbled off injured in the 13th minute.
The pattern of St Gallen's opening home match against FC Kuban Krasnodar would be replicated after the break as the Swiss outfit engineered two glorious opportunities for Roberto Rodriguez, but both were blocked by Gerhard Tremmel. Moments before the first of them, Swansea had enjoyed their best chance of the night, Wilfried Bony heading wide from Jonathan De Guzmán's classy corner.
As the fog lifted, the home team gathered momentum. Wüthrich struck the outside of the post with a free-kick and had an effort disallowed for a foul on Neil Taylor, while Mathys had a header cleared off the line by José Cañas. Mathys would not be denied for long, though, lunging in to seal victory from three metres.