Below-par Swans facing tough trip to Russia after Cisse steps up to hit Euro hopes.
SWANSEA CITY 1MICHU 68 KUBIN KRAZNODAR 1 CISSE 90+2 (pen) Team: Tremmel, Tiendalli (Rangel 59), Chico, Amat, Taylor, Dyer (Lamah 77), Canas, Shelvey, Pozuelo, Michu ,Bony (Vazquez 59). Subs not used: Vorm, Britton, Monk, de Guzman. Booked: Tiendalli,Tremmel.
Team: Belenov, Kozlov, Xandao, Armas, Zhavnerchik, Khubulov (Ignatiev 70), Kabore, Fidler, Melgarejo (Bucur 63), Popov (Ibra 76), Cisse. Subs not used: Bajcora, Dealbert, Tsoraev, Tlisov.
Attendance: 14,000 Referee: Kristinn Jakobsson (Iceland) ALL of a sudden, the trip to Russia in a fortnight's time becomes a little daunting.
In what was meant to be a chance to seal qualification to the knockout stages, Swansea City now head to Krasnodar about to experience what away days in Europe are all about.
Because after they refused to take the opportunity generously gifted to them by one, fleeting moment of inspiration from Michu, Swansea paid the penalty as Djibril Cisse's injury-time spot kick changed the Europa League outlook for Michael Laudrup's men.
So far it's all been a bit of a jolly; the comprehensive home wins in qualifying and the straightforward second legs, the stunning success in Spain as they put Valencia to the sword and the grind to victory against St Gallen.
Now, after a disjointed display gave strugglers Kuban their first point of the group, making the knockout stages will have to be done the hard way. Namely by heading to south west Russia - five hours flight and time difference and all - and making sure their superb start to their Europa League season does not unravel.
At their best, it still should not be a problem for Swansea, who then face a much-improved Valencia at home (the Spaniards winning 5-1 over St Gallen last night) before a trip to presumably snowy Switzerland in December.
But this was not Swansea at their best, far from it in fact. No tempo, no control and no real signs of the slick Swansea style that has taken to this competition so easily so far.
And yet, as Michu slid home Alejandro Pozuelo's pass on 68 minutes, it seemed as if they had got the slice of luck every side needs in cup runs.
But, with just seconds remaining, the missing maturity in the performance came to the fore to cost dear as the ball was lost in attack when the possession kings could have easily kept hold of the game.
Moments later, the ball was being placed on the spot by former Liverpool striker Cisse after Gerhard Tremmel had brought down sub Ibrahima Balde.
And all when Swansea were more than halfway there in a week Laudrup had declared was huge for their season.
Started well enough with a 4-0 Premier League thumping over Sunderland, the frustrated Dane will hope they can at least finish it well as they take on West Ham.
But Swansea will have to be better than this, much better as the sloppiness showed no signs of heeding Laudrup's pre-game warnings of complacency.
While it was a joy to see Neil Taylor lead the home side out given all he has been through, it was clear Swansea lacked leaders with Ashley Williams still out and Leon Britton among those rotated and rested.
And for all goalkeeper's Tremmel's promises to kick backsides if the standards weren't up to scratch, no amount of German grievance could shake Swansea from a first-half slumber.
Lack of precision and - more pertinently - lack of pace stopped Swansea getting into any sort of frontfoot rhythm.
Indeed, Kuban keeper and captain Alesandr Belenov, who Laudrup had admitted suffered a shocker in the Russians' 2-0 defeat to Valencia last time out, had not been tested once by the time half-time rolled around to see if his nerves had recovered.
He should have been. For all of Swansea's sloppiness and absence of cohesion or control, Jonjo Shelvey and Wilfried Bony both shockingly spurned chances to at least hit the target after decent build-up play, Shelvey's shank after being played in by Michu's flick in a move the England midfielder started himself not one he will want to watch again.
To Shelvey's credit, he did more than most to try and drive Swansea on but they failed to gather any momentum as the Kuban counter threat looked as dangerous as Laudrup had promised pre-game.
Aleksei Kozlov had fired a warning shot less than a minute in as Pozuelo started as he meant to go on for the next hour or so, giving the ball away cheaply and needing others to cover for him.
With the Spaniard failing to give any adequate support to Taylor, Arsen Khubulov's speed down the right caused problems and Chico was relieved to say the least when he scooped a 24th-minute driven cross from the wideman over the bar.
If that was more luck that judgement, Swansea continued to rely on fortune as a decision to defend a high line continued to catch them out, only Ivelin Popov's farcical failure to control and even worse dive allowing Jordi Amat to stop a clear shooting opportunity.
And as another through ball had the Swans defence flat-footed, the fact Lorenzo Melgarejo was deemed not to be central enough to be classed in a similar goal-scoring position saved Dwight Tiendalli when he hauled him back despite being last man.
Tiendalli did little to impress and, when right-back is such a key role for Swansea, it matters. Hence the cheers when Angel Rangel was introduced alongside Alvaro Vazquez for the ineffective Bony.
Whether the breakthrough came as a direct result of the change is difficult to tell as the hosts had pressed with greater authority if still lacking some sharpness, Nathan Dyer's liveliness forcing the issue.
But, whatever the catalyst, what looked like the crucial goal came - and through a familiar source.
Taylor and Shelvey had already interchanged passes by the time Michu injected his directness into the move, passing onto Pozuelo whose flicked through ball read his compatriot's run and Michu was determined enough to get the key touch before Belenov.
The now standard smashing of the advertising hoardings in celebration followed and, with six now for the season, Liberty groundstaff will do well to reinforce them if he keeps this up. But there was even more of a hint of frustration this time, Michu as aware as anyone that this had not been good enough.
Not that the job was done at this point, Amat showing plenty of reliability at the back to keep out a threat of a Kuban comeback, something that bodes well given Williams' continued absence.
But given all their lifelines, Swansea refused to cling to the lead. And, as an attack in injury time broke down cheaply, a simple ball provided a simple chance as sub Balde raced into the box and tempted Tremmel into bringing him down.
As Cisse dispatched the spot kick, the reminder was served that Europe is not all fun in the sun. Next stop: Russia.
GROUP A TABLE P W D L F A Pts SWANSEA ..... 3 2 1 0 5 1 7 Valencia ........ 3 2 0 1 7 4 6 St Gallen ....... 3 1 0 2 3 6 3 K Krasnodar .. 3 0 1 2 1 5 1
Michu puts Swansea ahead in last night's Europa League Group A match against Kuban Krasnodar at the Liberty Stadium