Eden Hazard takes a red card as Chelsea bow out of the Capital One Cup




It has taken more than 100 years but, finally, Swansea City knows what it feels like to reach a major final. Swansea City will play Bradford City at Wembley on 24th February while Chelsea, and Eden Hazard in particular, will reflect on another infamous chapter in the story of a difficult season.

Eden Hazard takes a red card as Chelsea bow out of the Capital One Cup

Eden Hazard takes a red card as Chelsea bow out of the Capital One Cup

Chelsea were trailing by two goals, courtesy of Miguel Michu and Danny Graham’s goals at Stamford bridge. It was remarkable that Chelsea didn’t manage a shot on target until the 73rd minute and barely offering any sense they were in the mood to pull off a dramatic comeback victory in the second league at Liberty Stadium.

Yet their performance may be swiftly forgotten in comparison with what happened in the 78th minute when Hazard went to get the ball from a ballboy close to corner flag and ended up being sent off for violent conduct. Hazard, in fairness, was entitled to want the ball back quickly while the ballboy seemed to delaying him- but what followed was nothing short of extraordinary, culminating in post-match apologies, with South Wales Police getting involved and Benitez leaving the post match press conference.

At one point the boy, from his starting position sitting by the pitch, was lying on top of the ball, and showed no signs of that he was willing to move. Hazard tried to wrestle it back, one side then the other, realized he was getting nowhere and made a mistake of delivering a short, impatient kick to release it from beneath the teenager. It worked, to a degree. The problem was it also left the boy with pain and clutching the midriff as various Swansea players ran over to protest.

Michael Laudrup’s side played with great organization and commitment and there were jubiliant scenes for a club whose previous success in knockout competitions amounts to two FA Cup semi-finals. Laudrup said: “It’s a small fairytale. What Bradford have done, though, is just amazing. They have beaten three Premier League sides on an incredible run. We have to try to make sure that stops now”.

Swansea will reflect that they had enough chances once they had the extra man to win both legs. In the end, it did not particularly matter. They defended with great resolution and commitment and, when dust settles, they will cherish the memories of an odd night.

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