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Controversy hurts Swansea, Wigan dealt major blow

ESPN staff
November 28, 2013 « Richards: Hart is back to his best | Chartbeat test »
Swansea could not convert their chances against Valencia © Getty Images
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A controversial offside decision means Swansea's quest to secure a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League will go down to the wire after defeat to Valencia at the Liberty Stadium.

A draw would have been enough to take Swansea through from Group A with a game to spare, but they fell behind to Daniel Parejo's 20th-minute strike and then lost striker Wilfried Bony to a worrying hamstring injury.

They thought Alvaro Vazquez had levelled just before the break when Diego Alves could not hold Jonjo Shelvey's shot and the Spaniard tapped in, but the flag went up despite replays suggesting the two Swansea players were onside.

If the goal had stood, it would have been enough to seal a spot in the last 32, but instead Swansea must wait until their final game against St Gallen to discover their fate.

Michael Laudrup's side are three points clear of third-placed Kuban Krasnodar, with the Russians having to go to group winners Los Che in the final round and Swansea three goals better off.

Wigan's hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the Europa League were dealt a major blow with a 2-1 home defeat by Zulte Waregem.

Junior Malanda's 88th-minute winner means qualification from Group D is now out of Latics' hands.

After Rubin Kazan and Maribor had drawn earlier in the evening, Wigan knew victory at the DW Stadium would be enough to guarantee their passage through to the last 32. But they will now need to beat Maribor in Slovenia in their final group game next month and hope Zulte lose to Rubin.

The main sense of frustration for Owen Coyle and his players will be that the damage was largely self-inflicted. Leon Barnett opened the scoring in the seventh minute and the hosts had no shortage of opportunities to extend their lead.

But they could not take any of them and in the 37th minute they shot themselves in the foot by allowing Zulte to equalise. Loose play from Wigan set the visitors away on a break, and Lee Nicholls compounded the error by dropping Thorgan Hazard's shot into his own net.

Hazard is the brother of Chelsea star Eden and is on loan from Jose Mourinho's side, but his shot should certainly have been kept out by Nicholls, who had not had a save to make up to that point. The Latics will now turn their attention back to the Sky Bet Championship and Sunday's visit of Derby, where Will Keane will provide Coyle with another option up front after signing on loan from Manchester United on Thursday.

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