Andre Ayew’s first-half effort boosted Swansea City’s hopes of Premier League promotion as it ensured a vital 1-0 away win over Barnsley in their Championship play-off semi-final first-leg clash on Monday.
The Ghanaian international’s goal at Oakwell Ground has put the Jack Army in the driving seat ahead of the return fixture at Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
As things stand, a win or draw in the second leg will send the Wales-based side through to the final, where they will square off against the winners of the second semi-final encounter between Brentford and Bournemouth.
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Steve Cooper’s outfit have to take the play-off route to secure a potential return to the Premier League for the first time since 2018 after finishing the regular season in the fourth position, thereby missing out on the automatic qualification promotion slots available for the top two sides on the league table, eventually secured by Norwich City and Watford.
The third to sixth finishers traditionally battle it out through a play-off for the final promotion slot.
Ayew, who registered 15 goals in 42 matches during the regular season, has now scored 17 goals in 44 total outings involving 42 starts this term.
The big moment of Monday’s fixture came in the 39th minute when the 31-year-old latched onto a Kyle Naughton through-ball on the edge of the box, beat two men in the box before curling a cool effort beyond goalkeeper Bradley Collins into the left corner.
His contribution highlights his influence this season for Swansea, for whom he currently stands as their top scorer.
It is the second straight year he has scored in the play-off semi-final as he similarly found the back of the net against Brentford last season, where they were eliminated.
He was equally influential for the Jack Army in that 2019-20 campaign as he netted 16 times to finish the term as the club’s top scorer. His exploits also earned him the Most Valuable Player gong at the side’s end of season awards.
His total goal haul this season has equalled last term’s tally.