Swansea took a significant stride to securing Premier League survival as they ground out a win against bottom side Aston Villa.
Villa dominated but failed to capitalise on a lethargic Swans display in a goalless first half.
The visitors were made to pay for their profligacy early in the second when Federico Fernandez bundled in.
Swansea are now 11 points clear of the relegation zone, while Villa remain 12 points adrift of safety.
A third win in four matches made it a happy return to the dugout for Swans head coach Francesco Guidolin, who had missed their last three fixtures with a chest infection.
And despite the unconvincing manner of victory, they will be increasingly confident of a sixth season in the Premier League with seven games of this campaign to go.
For Villa, meanwhile, a sixth successive league defeat makes relegation almost inevitable.
Villa’s familiar failings
Aston Villa had endured another turbulent week typical of a miserable season, with chief executive Tom Fox and sporting director Hendrik Almstadt both leaving the club.
Despite their dismal recent form, Remi Garde’s side started the strongest at the Liberty Stadium as Joleon Lescott and Jordan Ayew missed the target with the game’s first two shots.
Ciaran Clark then headed narrowly over from a corner, though there was a sinking familiarity to Villa’s inability to make their dominance count.
Swans up their game
In Guidolin’s absence, assistant coach Alan Curtis had taken charge of Swansea’s past three games, winning two and losing one.
Guidolin’s return to the touchline failed to inspire his players in a listless first-half display, with the hosts devoid of direction, intensity and invention.
There was an improvement in all aspects after the interval, though there was an element of luck to Swansea’s goal.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s curling free-kick prompted panic from onrushing Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan, whose hesitation allowed the ball to hit Fernandez’s shoulder and loop into the net.
Swansea looked more confident in possession after taking the lead, albeit without the fluency which has become a hallmark of their play in recent years.
Bafetimbi Gomis pulled a shot wide in injury-time but it mattered not to the Swans, who were simply relieved to hold on for victory and haul themselves further clear of the bottom three.
Man of the match – Gylfi Sigurdsson
More to follow.