Swansea City secured the first major trophy in its 101-year history by routing Bradford City 5-0 in English soccer’s League Cup final.
Nathan Dyer and Jonathan de Guzman each got two goals and Michu also scored for Premier League Swansea at London’s Wembley stadium yesterday. Bradford, which became the first fourth-tier club to appear in a major Wembley final, had goalkeeper Matt Duke red-carded when 3-0 down.
Swansea’s breakthrough, which qualifies it for next season’s Europa League, came a decade after the Welsh club almost went out of business as it struggled to stay in the Football League. The 5-0 scoreline was the biggest winning margin for the competition’s final.
“It was a great performance,” Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, who won the European Cup with Barcelona in 1992, told Sky Sports. “As a manager it’s absolutely at the top, winning a trophy for the first time in 100 years. The first trophy is always special, and now next year in Europe. It’s a nice experience.”
Swansea, founded in 1912, was making its first appearance in a major final and dominated the game with intricate passing. The Swans opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Duke could only parry Michu’s shot and Dyer tapped the ball into the net.
Michu made it 2-0 five minutes before halftime, taking advantage of loose marking to prod the ball through Carl McHugh’s legs and past Duke. It was his 19th goal of the season after signing from Spanish club Rayo Vallecano.
Dyer put Swansea 3-0 up in the opening minutes of the second half when he cut in from the right and curled a shot into the far corner.
Bradford then went a man down after Duke tripped De Guzman, earning a red card and conceding a penalty. Dyer argued that he should have a chance to complete his hat trick, though De Guzman insisted on taking the spot kick and converted past substitute goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin in the 59th minute. He then added the fifth goal in stoppage time.
So great was Swansea’s dominance that the game was more than 80 minutes old before League Two team Bradford won a corner kick, sparking huge cheers from its supporters.
“When you are 3-0 up and with confidence like that you see the difference from a Premier League side and League Two,” added Laudrup, who succeeded Brendan Rodgers as manager last year when he switched to Liverpool. “I have to say what Bradford have done this season is impressive, although it is also impressive what we have done.”
Swansea, which was promoted to England’s elite division in 2011, beat Chelsea in the semifinal. Bradford upset Premier League trio Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa on its way to the final. The club’s only major trophy was the F.A. Cup in 1911.
“We would love to have made more of a game of it,” Bradford manager Phil Parkinson said. “Conceding the goals when we did made it really difficult for ourselves. They’re a good side and things didn’t quite go our way, to put it mildly.”
Rochdale is the only other club to reach a major English Cup final while in the fourth level. It lost to Norwich in 1962 when the League Cup final was contested over two games.
While Swansea has played in Europe before as the Welsh Cup champion, this will be its first time as winner of a major English competition.
Swansea and Bradford have both recovered from financial crises in recent years. Swansea almost went out of business and narrowly avoided dropping out of the Football League in 2003, surviving with a win over Hull City on the final day of the season. Bradford had two spells in administration, a form of protection from creditors, after relegation from the Premier League in 2001.