Bizarre red card overshadows Swansea's cup win
By Steve Douglas ,APLONDON -- Swansea's progress to the final of the League Cup was overshadowed by a bizarre sending-off of Chelsea star Eden Hazard on Wednesday following an off-the-pitch incident involving a ball boy.
January 25, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
A miserable night for the European champions at Liberty Stadium was sealed when Hazard was shown a red card for kicking the ball boy in the ribs while attempting to retrieve the ball in the 79th minute, with Chelsea needing two goals to force extra time in the second leg of the semifinal.
The match finished 0-0, with Swansea winning 2-0 on aggregate and advancing to its first major cup final. The team will play fourth-tier Bradford City in an unlikely lineup for the showpiece at Wembley Stadium on Feb. 24.
Hazard and the 17-year-old ball boy, who appeared to be refusing to return the ball to the Belgium international to waste time, have apologized to each other. They were both spoken to by police and Swansea said no charges will be pressed against Hazard.
“The boy put his whole body onto the ball and I was just trying to kick the ball and I think I kicked the ball and not the boy,” Hazard said. “I apologize.”
Hazard's actions overshadowed one of the biggest nights in the 100-year history of Swansea, a Welsh club which plays in the English Premier League and is coached by Michael Laudrup — one of Europe's great players from the 1980s.
“The ball boy should have let the ball go, but he was pushed first and then he kicks him,” said Laudrup, a former Denmark, Real Madrid and Barcelona forward. “As a player when you are behind, your pulse is very high and sometimes you say and do things. You overreact. But there are some things you cannot do.”
Protecting a comfortable lead from the first leg at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, Swansea defended stubbornly and conceded few chances to Chelsea's star-studded team.