Shefki Kuqi's second-half header earned promotion-chasing Swansea a 1-0 victory over Derby in a lively Coca-Cola Championship match that saw both sides reduced to 10 men.

A game that lacked quality and cutting edge burst into life after the hour mark as, in the space of six minutes, Jay McEveley was handed second yellow, Kuqi headed home Angel Rangel's free-kick and Gorka Pintado levelled the numbers with a dangerous lunge on Robbie Savage.

The clean sheet was the Swans' 18th of the season, and despite some dominant Derby possession either side of the goal, Dorus de Vries in the visitors' goal rarely looked threatened as Nigel Clough's four-match unbeaten run came to a limp end.

In a low-key first half, the Rams had the best of the play, with Kris Commons often at the heart of the early attacking play, but his withdrawal after 25 minutes with a suspected hamstring injury was a heavy blow for the hosts.

Before the setback, the Scotland international looked lively and combined with Derby's in-form Rob Hulse after just nine minutes, although the 10-goal striker was denied an 11th of the season with a solid save from De Vries, with the Dutch keeper tipping the six-yard effort around the post.

Commons himself then had a 25-yard effort at goal, but it was deflected wide of the target and proved to be his last meaningful action of the half as he was withdrawn with a quarter of the game gone and replaced by Arsenal's Gilles Sunu, who only joined the club on loan late yesterday.

Much of the remaining 20 minutes was played in midfield with Swansea's neat football failing to trouble Derby's backline and, after the break, it appeared to be more of the same for the near 31,000 spectators, although McEveley picked up his first yellow card for a tough challenge on Joe Allen.

And less than 10 minutes later, the Scotland international was dismissed, this time for a foul on Nathan Dyer.

It was from the resulting free-kick that Sousa's men grabbed the decisive goal as Kuqi was first to react to Rangel's whipped cross, and the experienced Finn nodded home his second goal of the campaign.

However, Clough's side were handed an almost immediate lifeline with a balancing of the numbers as - just five minutes later - Pintado launched himself into a dangerous tackle and as well as seeing red for his efforts, also instigated a mass melee on the pitch and players clashed over the incident.

With the numbers level, the home fans urged their side on to the attack, but without Commons on the pitch they lacked ideas and aside from a Shaun Barker shot and a late Hulse header failed to trouble De Vries in the Swansea the goal, leaving the game to peter out to for an away win.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
#Dorus De Vries
#Arsenal
#Jay McEveley
#Rob Hulse
#Shaun Barker
#Joe Allen
#Kris Commons
#Championship
#Shefki Kuqi
#Derby County
#Gorka Pintado
#Robbie Savage
#Nathan Dyer
#Angel Rangel
#Swansea City
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