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Steve Cooper Admits Mitrovic Masterclass Is What Swans Are Lacking

Steve Cooper admitted his Swansea City side paid a heavy price for not taking their chances as they lost for the fourth time in their last five matches at the Liberty Stadium.

Two goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic in the first-half, meant a reply from George Byers just after the hour mark was not enough to prevent Fulham earning a 2-1 victory.

The Swans were much improved from their awful display last weekend in defeat to Millwall – they could hardly have been much worse – but they could not prevent a fifth home defeat of the season, all of which have come in their last seven games.

Fulham are one of the strongest sides in the Championship and it’s hardly a surprise that Mitrovic should have maintained his remarkable recent scoring sequence, but the Swans had plenty of chances to score before the Serbian opened his account midway through the first-half.

“In terms of the chances we created and the performance level, maybe we deserved more,” said Cooper.

“But we have not taken the chances and given away – particularly the second goal – a poor goal.

“We know Mitrovic plays up front for them, and he does not miss those chances, but we have given him the opportunity.

“It’s a frustrating night, no doubt about that. But I thought it was our best performance for a while and that’s why we are frustrated not to get a draw.

“When you concede two goals at home you are asking for a bit of trouble. We played some good football and created a lot more chances than we have done previously here.

“That was an objective. We know we have not won enough games here at home.”

Serbian Mitrovic struck twice in the first-half to give him 23 goals in as many games for club and country this season, including seven in his last five matches.

Swansea pulled a goal back through George Byers, and pressed hard for an equaliser, but their damaging home record is undermining their own promotion ambitions as they have taken just four points from a possible 21 in their last seven games at the Liberty Stadium.

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It might have been a different story if Sam Surridge had scored early on when he was given a golden opportunity.

Andre Ayew’s exquisite cross set up the striker but his point blank effort was saved by Marek Rodak.

Cooper added: “It was a chance you would expect him to score, but I thought he did a lot of good things in his first start in the league here and we will keep working with him and keep believing in him, as we will all the players.

“I’m sure if another one comes along, he will aiming to put it in. He is not lacking confidence but maybe now is the time to give him a run in the team.

“He was a handful and he was there for the chances he missed, which is not a bad trait. He has scored goals, it is a step up for him in terms of playing in the Championship, but we keep going.

“We know where we are at as a club. We came up against a team who could compete in the Premier League, certainly with the investment that has gone into their squad is a Premier League budget and we made them look ordinary on so many occasions.

“So it’s not a massive level playing field in terms of finances, but in terms of football and chances we did well.”

What Swansea lacked was the assurance of a cold-eyed goalscorer, of the type Fulham have in Mitrovic who calmly gave Fulham a 21st minute lead with his team’s first genuine opportunity.

The Serbian’s nonchalance – as he headed home after Aboubakar Kamara’s shot had struck the bar following a cross from Joe Bryan – typified a striker in reliable form.

Swansea responded and Byers forced Rodak into a save, but it was not long before Mitrovic plundered his second goal.

A wiser team would not have left Mitrovic free at the far post, but then Swansea created their own misfortune when Peterson needlessly gave the ball away, allowing Josh Onomah and Ivan Cavaleiro to combine. When Cavaleiro rolled the ball across, Mitrovic took time to steady himself before sweeping a shot high into the net.

Fulham might easily have increased their lead after the break, although they also needed Rodak to make another good save to deny Byers.

But the midfielder finally pulled a goal back for Swansea when he headed home Barrie McKay’s cross in the 65th minute after the substitute’s initial delivery had rebounded from a defensive wall.


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