Date:Wednesday January 23 2013
23rd January 2013
Michael Laudrup has taken Swansea City to their first Cup final in their history following tonight's goalless draw against Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium.
The Swans fully deserved their place in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley on February 24th as they frustrated Chelsea in both legs, and thanks to an excellent defensive display they kept clean sheets in both against last season's European champions.
The game was marred by an incredible and disgraceful incident with around ten minutes to go, when Eden Hazard kicked a ball-boy as he smothered the ball in an attempt to waste a little time. His sending off would prove to dominate the headlines, with little attention on the fact that the Swans had reached a Cup final, and they`ll face Bradford, a club who deserves even more credit for getting there too.
After an magnificent 2-0 win in the opening leg at Stamford Bridge, the Swans were expecting an onslaught from the Blues on Wednesday night to recover the aggregate score, but in the never came, not at least until the final 20 minutes of the first half, and even then, Benitez`s side couldn`t create as many clear-cut chances as Arsenal did their 1-0 FA Cup replay win recently.
In fact, the Swans really should have added to the two goals early on to see off Chelsea before the break. Michu, who`s not looked quite himself in the previous few games, went through on goal but Cech did well to palm away his shot after Routledge slipped a neat ball in behind. The winger himself had a chance beforehand, as the Swans broke quickly down the right flank. Hernandez delivered the cross with two players unmarked in the box, but the visiting defence were able to recover in time to block Routledge`s volley.
The biggest talking point of the game happened before Swansea`s early chances though, when Ba hoped to win a penalty within the first 7 minutes. The former Newcastle United striker knocked the ball past Ben Davies and while it originally looked like a penalty, replays showed very minimal contact, with Ba keeping his leg out to get tripped. Luckily, the referee ignored claims for a spot kick.
The Swans had more of the ball early on but they hoped their early chances wouldn`t cost them as Chelsea finally began to show their attacking qualities.
The hosts then had shouts for a penalty ignored too, ten minutes after the Bar incident. Michu and Rangel combined before de Guzman`s shot appeared to be blocked by Cahill`s arm, but again, Foy didn`t point to the spot.
Eden Hazard created Chelsea`s first real chance as they started to up the pressure after a quiet opening 20 minutes from the Blues. They caused problems and ended the half promisingly. The youngster saw a tame effort easily saved by Tremmel after getting into a good shooting position when the hosts failed to clear a corner.
Chelsea got closer with a few more efforts, but a lot of credit has to go to the Swansea defence, for an excellent disciplined performance, with every player working together as a unit to limit the threat on Tremmel`s goal. Ashley Williams in particular made a number of key interceptions and blocks to help his side go into half time with the scores unchanged.
Before the half time whistle, Ramires got away with an awful tackle on Ki, who suffered a nasty tackle on his ankle but thankfully he was able to continue playing after limping off the pitch for a quick break. Foy thought he had won the ball for some reason, but what it was, was a dangerous tackle, and it wasn`t the only one from Ramires in the game.
HALF TIME - SWANSEA CITY 0-0 CHELSEA
Was the Chelsea onslaught going to come? Again, we were made to wait and see as it was the Swans again to create the early opening. Hernandez raced through on goal but the offside flag was raised when it looked very tight.
The half took some time to see some goalmouth action, and while the Swans produced very little to boost their hopes of a Wembley final, they still looked reasonably comfortable in defence.
Chelsea`s first big chance came when the ball fell nicely to Ba inside the box, but his volley from about 12 yards flew over. One of the top goalscorers in the League should have buried that chance as his side were still looking to cut the deficit.
The biggest incident of the game happened with 10 minutes left on the clock, and it occured when the ball wasn`t in play. Eden Hazard was sent off for kicking the ball boy as he smothered it! As the ball rolled out of play, the ball-boy purposely looked to take extra time in getting it back to Gerhard Tremmel. Hazard raced over to retrieve it quicker before the ball-boy fell on the ball, and he felt the need to kick him in his attempts to get it back to allow the game to continue. They were both in the wrong but you simply cannot defend a player kicking anyone in the ribs. Rightly so, Foy showed him a straight red card, and the Swans fans could now sing about a potential trip to Wembley!
Laudrup`s side should have wrapped things up and won both legs as they took advantage of the extra man. Ki made the wrong decision when breaking free in the box, a pass to substitute Dyer could have seen a goal, before Hernandez`s weak shot was easily saved.
Thanks to the ball-boy incident, there were six minutes added on, so Chelsea in fact got even more extra time, but if anyone was going to score it was the home team. Dyer won a corner after his shot was blocked, and they could play the ball slowly in the corner to run down the clock before the full time whistle was blown.
The Swansea fans of course were in raptures as they celebrated a huge achievement in beating last year`s European champions to reach their first ever Cup final in their 100 year history!
SEE YOU AT WEMBLEY!
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Date:Wednesday January 23 2013
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