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29 May 2023

Swansea stifle Chelsea to reach Cup final

By Reuters

Swansea City reached their first major English final after holding Chelsea in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal to win 2-0 on aggregate on Wednesday but the match will be remembered more for the bizarre sending off of playmaker Eden Hazard.

After securing a shock 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, the Welsh club put in a resilient rearguard display to draw 0-0 in front of their jubilant fans.

Chelsea's unhappy evening was compounded by a farcical finish as the London side were reduced to 10 men when Hazard was sent off for trying to kick the ball away from a ballboy who stubbornly refused to return the ball and lay on top of it.

The Belgian then lost his cool and tried to kick the ball from underneath the ballboy but in the process caught him in the ribs.

Referee Chris Foy called him across and gave him his marching orders effectively ending the visitors' hopes of securing a route back into the tie.

"Demba Ba told me the ball boy held onto it but I saw him kick him and you can't do that to a young boy," Swansea captain Ashley Williams told Sky Sports.

Swansea will face fourth tier Bradford City in the final at Wembley Stadium on Feb. 24.

"We go to Wembley which is what we all dreamt of as little boys," Williams added.

"We kept to the game plan brilliantly. We will do our work on Bradford and we can't take them for granted. They have beaten three Premier League teams this season."

Chelsea made one change from the team that beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Premier League on Sunday, with January signing Demba Ba taking the place of the out-of-sorts Fernando Torres.

The game was six minutes old when the Senegal striker was involved in controversy as he burst into the box and appeared to be tripped by Swansea defender Ben Davies, but Chelsea's penalty appeals were waved away by Foy.

Chelsea were spraying the ball around confidently, but the best early chance fell to the hosts.

Winger Wayne Routledge played a clever throughball for Michu, but the Spanish striker, whose superb start to life in the Premier League was rewarded with a new four-year contract on Wednesday, failed to find the corner and his shot was saved by the diving keeper Peter Cech.

With Torres looking wistfully on from the bench, Ba was on the end of Chelsea's best early efforts.

A deep cross from Ashley Cole was blasted high over the bar by the striker on the stroke of halftime and he curled a decent effort narrowly wide five minutes after the restart.

Chelsea had to wait until the 72nd minute for their next sniff of goal when Juan Mata drilled a low shot that was well-held by Swansea keeper Gerhard Tremmel.