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GOLDEN GRAHAM FIRES UP PREMIER DREAMS.

Byline: DAVID WILLIAMS

Graham 63 1:0 SWANSEA CITY REAL BETIS Graham 63 Moreira (Tremmel 45), Rangel (Alfei 90), Tate (capt), Williams, Taylor, Britton (Allen 46), Agustien (Orlandi 86), Dobbie (Routledge 46), Dyer (Gower 72), Sinclair (Moore 72), Graham (Lita 72) Casto (Goitia 46), Chica, Mario, Dorado (Amaya 74), Nacho (Vadillo 90), Iriney (Pozuelo 78), Benat (Pereira 70), Sergio (Matilla 65), Jefferson (Martinez 90), Castro, Molina (Canas 70) REFEREE: Huw Jones (Oswestry) SWANSEA CITY made sure of heading into their debut season in the Premier League on a winning note thanks to Danny Graham's first goal for the club.

The former Watford frontman grabbed the winner just after the hour at the Liberty Stadium as the Swans followed up their midweek triumph over Celtic with victory against La Liga outfit Real Betis.

The match also saw new signing Wayne Routledge make his debut after joining from Newcastle, the speedy midfielder playing the whole of the second half in place of the excellent Stephen Dobbie.

Brendan Rodgers now has a little more than a week to finalise his starting line-up for the mouth-watering Premier League opener at Manchester City in eight days' time.

And Graham's goal came at just the right time for him and his manager, the pounds 3.5m striker's delicate finish ensuring his side ended their pre-season programme on a high.

The Betis players must have felt at home in the Swansea sunshine, but it was the hosts who made the better start and they could have taken the lead inside the first two minutes had it not been for visiting goalkeeper Casto.

Scott Sinclair was found by Dobbie, the winger cut inside and unleashed a curling shot that looked heading for the far corner.

That was until Casto dived full-length to tip the ball round the post and out for a corner.

Betis showed their hand early on, with Ruben Castro breaking down the right and firing in a low cross which wasn't gathered cleanly by Jose Moreira but scrambled away to safety. But Swansea had the upper hand in the opening 15 minutes and were unlucky not to break the deadlock again, this time Dobbie was on the receiving end of Angel Rangel's pull back to the penalty spot, but the Scot couldn't keep his shot down.

On 16 minutes Graham knocked down Alan Tate's cross-field ball to Dobbie and the play-off final goalscorer ghosted past a Betis defender and played the ball across goal for Graham.

But Nacho was there to save Betis, poking the ball out for a corner with the striker lying in wait.

Down at the other end, Betis' tricky left-winger Jefferson stung Moreira's palms from a narrow angle before another great opportunity for the Swans.

A fortunate ricochet off Nathan Dyer fell nicely for Dobbie, he found Graham and, after a slight hesitation, the striker closed in on goal.

But, with Sinclair supporting on the left, the centre forward chose to play in his team-mate rather than go for glory himself and ultimately his pass lacked conviction and Betis cleared.

While Swansea didn't seem to have any problems going forward, Moreira was causing a few nerves to jangle at the back.

He was lucky not to concede the game's first goal when Iriney's shot seemed to go through him.

The ball was inches from crossing the line when Moreira got back to dive on it with Jorge Molina following up and Neil Taylor covering.

On the half hour, Sinclair and Dobbie linked up again down the left. This time Sinclair drove into the area and, with his opposite number on the back foot, went for the far corner again.

But there wasn't enough power on his shot and Casto saved comfortably.

Late in the half Moreira was called into action again, and not for the first time he looked uncertain when forced to make a save.

Sergio took a potshot from 25 yards, all along the ground, but Moreira failed to gather it cleanly and the ball broke for Molina.

But, to his credit, the keeper got back to give away a corner with a second save.

Gerhard Tremmel, Joe Allen and Routledge were introduced before the second half kicked off - Moreira, Britton and Dobbie all coming off.

And it didn't take too long for Routledge to show his class, playing in Graham with a delightful flick pass only for the striker to scuff his effort badly.

However, Graham put that behind him in the 63rd minute, his first goal in a Swansea shirt giving his new employers the lead.

Dyer and Rangel did the spadework on the right, the Spaniard creating space to find Graham, and the hit-man was cool and assured with his finish, chipping the ball over Goitia.

The inevitable raft of substitutions followed, including Leroy Lita's introduction for Graham, but the changes didn't really benefit either side more.

Betis did have some sighters on goal but didn't make Tremmel work too hard, while Swansea pressed for a second. But, more often than not, the midfield couldn't read the runs of the strikers in time.

There is still a bit of work to do for Rodgers' side ahead of that much-anticipated trip to Manchester City, but beating opponents who will be mixing it with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid provides a timely confidence boost.

CAPTION(S):

Stephen Dobbie is challenged by Real Betis' Mario Nathan Dyer takes a tumble after being challenged by Real Betis' Nacho Swansea's Danny Graham tests the Real Betis defence
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 7, 2011
Words:918
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