By Paul Jones
Wayne Routledge has been praised as a “Swansea City legend” after his two goals secured the miracle at the Madejski.
The praise was offered by a grateful manager Steve Cooper after the 35-year-old scored a sublime first and play-off clinching second in the 4-1 win at Reading.
With Swansea chasing goals late on, it was Routledge who headed home at the far post to put them into the top six in stoppage time against Reading.
It put the seal on the vital victory for the Swans, while Stoke would go on to score a fourth to win by the same scoreline against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
That ensured Cooper’s team leapfrogged the Reds to finish sixth and set-up a play-off semi-final against Brentford.
Routledge had earlier restored Swansea’s lead after a George Puscas penalty had cancelled out Rhian Brewster’s stunning strike, while Liam Cullen showed great composure to net the third and score his first senior goal for the club.
It was a night of incredible drama, but Cooper reserved special praise for Routledge, who has made over 280 appearances for the club since joining in 2011.
One of the best goals you will see all season. The touch and then the lob are just exquisite. Routs was unreal tonight. https://t.co/8r7Ci9j2sa
— Matt Harrison (@MattLostBoyo) July 22, 2020
“His first goal was just typical Wayne,” said Cooper.
“There is not a training day goes by where he does not do something that makes you go, ‘whoa, that was good’.
“He is a Swansea legend, he is still very focused and he stills loves playing. He is a great help to the younger boys, and he has only ever given me 100 per cent respect and support over my time here.
“But he can still play, and for him to do that tonight is just brilliant really.”
Cooper also praised Cullen, as the academy graduate swept home his first senior goal. A strike which suddenly put the Swans within touching distance of their target.
“I also have to mention Liam Cullen,” said Cooper.
“He is an academy graduate, he has scored a load of goals coming through the ranks, he is a local boy and it’s great for him to get his first goal in a game like that, because that was a good finish.”
Swansea have pulled off the unbelievable and grabbed a playoff spot from Nottingham Forrest by winning 4-1!
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) July 22, 2020
Cooper’s side looked down and out at the Madejski Stadium with the scores locked at 1-1 going into the second half after Puscas had cancelled out Brewster’s opener from the penalty spot.
But the hosts were up against it themselves after being reduced to 10 men following Yakou Melle’s dismissal for violent conduct just before the break.
Cooper added: “We got over the line. We’re calm now and refocused. It’s a pat on the back at the moment but still not a time for congratulations.
“We’re there already, back down to earth. We’ve still got two or maybe three games to go.
“What an eventful night it was. We’ve got the job done in the end, we achieved our objective, but no one thought that it was going to be in that way.
“It was, though, going to take something extraordinary for it to happen. And it has done.
— Rhian Brewster (@RhianBrewster9) July 22, 2020
“It’s not just tonight. We’ve won a lot of games since we’ve come back from lockdown, and performances have been good. We obviously had one setback on the way,” he added.
“After that setback against Luton, there was no hiding place, and they stood up and were counted.
“Momentum is good, but we’ve got to focus on ourselves, keep building on how we’re doing things, and hopefully it’ll stand us in good stead.”
Sunday 26 July Swansea City v Brentford – 18.30 kick-off
Monday 27 July – Cardiff City v Fulham – 19.45 kick-off
Wednesday 29 July – Brentford v Swansea City – 19.45 kick-off
Thursday 30 July – Fulham v Cardiff City- 19.45 kick-off
Final (Wembley Stadium)
Tuesday 4 August – 19.45 kick-off