Date:Monday February 25 2013
24th February 2013
Swansea City made history at Wembley today as their won their first major cup competition in their 100-year history. And they did it in style against Bradford City as goals from Dyer (2), de Guzman (2) and Michu completed the 5-0 rout.
Before the game, manager Michael Laudrup summed up brilliantly the achievements of the two teams for getting to the final. While he spoke highly of his own side`s Capital One Cup success, he couldn`t ignore the far greater one of Bradford City, reaching a major final despite playing their football in League Two.
From the opening kick to the last, Swansea produced a perfect display of attractive passing football as the Bantams simply couldn't keep up with and maintain their fast and fluent game.
Much was said before the game about who should partner Ashley Williams in defence. While the majority of fans debated between Monk and Bartley, Laudrup surprised us with Ki's place at the back. It proves to be an excellent decision as he slotted into his new role naturally, although he didn`t have much defending to do. He was good in the air but he was mostly there to create our attacking moves, as the Swans were able to break wonderfully from their own half.
The Bantams showed the Swans far too much respect, they backed off them and invited the back four to push high up past the half way line to get the ball in between the lines. Despite being disciplined with their 2 banks of four, space was always there - 5 yards or more at times - giving the winger trio of Pablo Hernandez, Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer the freedom to cause havoc for the opposition defence and they turned the game into the "Swansea City Show". Bradford chased shadows for the majority of the 90 minutes, and when they did get the ball, Laudrup`s side battled quickly to regain it.
The Swans kicked off and kept possession for the opening minute or so before winning the first corner of the match. That set the story for the match, as Bradford could only feed off scraps as Leon Britton, Jonathan de Guzman and Ki Sung Yueng helped to dictate the game.
From the first few minutes, it was evident that Bradford were struggling to chase the Swans as their continuously switched the play from either wing, stretching the Bantams as their looked for the first goal. It was only going to be a matter of time before the ball found its way into the net and it did after 15 minutes. Before the game, a minute`s applause were planned for the 15th and 40th minutes for former players Robbie James and Besian Idrizaj. Coincidentally, both of Swansea`s first half goals were scored at these moments, and it couldn`t have been a more fitting tribute.
Ben Davies had Swansea City`s first decent chance 2 minutes before their opening goal. After good build-up play between Ashley Williams and Michu, the ball ended up with Dyer and then Rangel on the right flank. The Spaniard sent a high cross in and the young full back sent a powerful header just past the far post.
As Bradford lifted their crowd for the first time of the game as they delivered a cross into the box, Swansea City were able to pick the ball in the middle and break quickly to get the first of five goals. As Rangel cleared the ball in, de Guzman eventually picked it after Hernandez`s touch and helped it up to Routledge. The winger broke forward in acres of space ahead of him before passing it to Michu, his shot was parried but Dyer did well to meet the ball at the far post to find the net. The goal had been coming, and it was from a simple, but effective counter attacking move. Rather ironic that the goal occurred following a Bradford attack, considering their complete and utter dominance in the opening quarter of an hour.
Bradford had brief moments of possession - when Hernandez gifted them a break in our own half after a poor pass, but the Swans quickly closed the opposition down, forced them back into their half and were soon back in control.
Despite the dominance and control they had of the game, Laudrup`s side didn`t create a host of chances in the first half but they were patient in their play, and were happy to just keep possession. They also showed the confidence and precision that they could up the pace of their play and hurt Bradford in key areas when they wanted to.
Bradford meanwhile had been a threat from set pieces and high balls in their route to the final - knocking out the likes of Arsenal, Wigan and Aston Villa, but they couldn`t get opportunities to win free kicks or corners.
Leon Britton had a rare long-range shot go just wide of the target, volleying towards the target after a corner was only half cleared.
Three minutes before the Swans doubled their lead, the referee, who had little to do up until this point in a free-flowing game, showed Ki Sung yueng a yellow card for an overly-enthusiastic tackle. A rare moment to get the ball into the box for Bradford but Michu was able to clear and the Swans were soon enough back in possession to create their second goal.
Ashley Williams` excellent diagonal long pass found Dyer, who did well to control it on the right wing. de Guzman brought the ball over to the opposite side before Hernandez passed the ball through a defender`s legs to Michu. He too threaded a low shot through an opponent`s legs, past the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner. If there was one player on the pitch that you don`t give a couple of yards to shoot on goal, it`s top scorer Michu. The Bantams backed off every player who touched the ball in the lead-up to the goal and that was their wrong-doing throughout. Eventually, the men in white shirts were queuing up to score.
Routledge had a shot tipped over the bar by the goalkeeper before Hernandez`s placed shot was held onto by Duke, as the Swans created a couple more chances prior to the referee`s half time whistle.
If Bradford could recover in the second half and win the Cup, then it would go down as the biggest and best comeback in the history of the game as Swansea were in the driving seat cruising to win their first major trophy in their 101-year history.
The Bantams made a change at the start of the second half, taking off fullback Curtis Good and replacing him with Andrew Davies. The young defender had a torrid time in the opening 45 minutes and he simply couldn`t cope with the skill and pace of Nathan Dyer.
The League 2 side looked to make a brighter start to avoid a big scoreline but after a decent opening 2 minutes, Nathan Dyer soon made it 3-0, pretty much ending any slim hopes of getting back into the game.
Yet again, the Swans had plenty of time and space on the ball as Dyer was able to run from just inside his own half to the edge of the Bradford penalty area. His pass inside found Routledge, Michu made the dummy and looked for the return ball but it came back to Dyer. He cut inside and curled a left-footed shot into the top corner of the net that gave the keeper no chance of stopping.
As they continued to pass the ball at will, it was only a matter of time before the ball hit the net once again, and they did thanks to a stunning move to win a penalty after 55 minutes. Dyer, Hernandez and Michu made some delightful touches in the lead-up. Michu delivered the low cross to de Guzman, who took the ball past the keeper who brought him down with his outstretched leg. An obvious penalty and a sending off, but it was unfortunate for Duke who had been excellent in Bradford`s Capital One Cup success story.
Dyer and de Guzman argued over who was going to take the spot kick. Dyer was looking to complete his hatrick while the Dutchman desperately wanted the goal he was about to score before being brought down. de Guzman took it in similar fashion as Scott Sinclair when he took our penalties. A slow, casual run-up, before placing the ball low into the goalkeeper`s right-hand corner.
With ten men, you would have thought that the Swans would go on to get a hatful having netted four goals against eleven. But Laudrup`s side were still happy to keep the ball, passing it around with ease, as more and more players queued up in the box in the hope of getting a famous goal at Wembley.
Wayne Routledge at least deserved one for another excellent display, yet again he created a goal with a key through ball and Leon Britton was the key link from defence to attack.
As if they hadn`t been already, the Swans could enjoy and cruise to the 90th minute with the Cup all but guaranteed. Michael Laudrup made some respectful substitutions allowing the likes of club skipper Garry Monk, new loan signing Roland Lamah, and right back Dwight Tiendalli to get some game time at Wembley.
Although their team couldn`t deliver another cup upset against a Premier League club, Bradford City fans still made the most of the occasion and they were excellent throughout, particularly mid-way through the second half, as a sea of waved orange and black flags lit up one half of the crowd as the Swans supporters showed their respect for their incredible support.
Laudrup`s side rounded off an magnificent 5-star performance and cup win with a fifth goal. Beforehand, Michu had a shot well saved and Tiendalli`s shot hit the bar. Hernandez then picked out Rangel out wide on the right and his first-time low cross found de Guzman who got the vital touch to find the net from 8 yards.
Swansea City broke the record for the biggest ever League Cup final win, a 5-0 thrashing of Bradford City which sees them enter the Europa League next season. A massive moment for the club, and the biggest ever achievement by Michael Laudrup who summed it up perfectly after the full time whistle having won almost everything he could as a player.
Date:Monday February 25 2013
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