Swansea Seizes on Errors to Beat Chelsea in League Cup Semifinal
Swansea beat Chelsea 2-0 to open their English League Cup soccer semifinal, getting both goals off mistakes by Blues defender Branislav Ivanovic.
Miguel Michu and Danny Graham scored last night at Stamford Bridge in west London to give Swansea the advantage going to the return match Jan. 23 in Wales. The series winner advances to the final of England’s second-tier club competition Feb. 24 at Wembley Stadium in London.
“There is still a mountain to climb,” Swans manager Michael Laudrup told Sky Sports. “But I am most happy about going into the second leg as home with a possibility to play a final at Wembley.”
Chelsea had 64 percent possession and a 24-5 advantage in shots, though was unable to put the ball past visiting goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel as it fell to a first home loss against Swansea since 1925.
The Swans, seeking a first major trophy in the club’s 100- year history, took the lead in the 39th minute as Ivanovic lost control of a pass from goalkeeper Ross Turnbull. Jonathan de Guzman laid off the ball for Michu, who curled a shot inside the left post from the edge of the area.
After Chelsea continued to press in the second half without scoring, interim manager Rafael Benitez brought on midfielder Frank Lampard and striker Demba Ba in latter stages.
Ba had two chances immediately after entering, the first saved by Tremmel and the second headed wide. Chelsea then had a penalty claim in injury time as Ba went down after he and Tremmel contested a loose ball, though the referee gave the striker a yellow card for diving.
Graham made it 2-0 moments later as he picked up Ivanovic’s intended backpass to Turnbull, went past the goalkeeper and put the ball into the empty net.
Swansea has reached the League Cup semifinal for the first time, while Chelsea is seeking its fifth title.
“If we do get to Wembley it will be massive for everyone,” Swansea defender Ashley Williams said. “We just wanted to get a result and bring them back to our place and try and finish the job.”
Bradford, which plays in England’s fourth tier, takes a 3-1 lead over Aston Villa into the second game of that semifinal on Jan. 22. Victory in the series would make Bradford the first team from below the second level to reach the final since Villa achieved the feat as a third-division team in 1970-71, according to Infostrada Sports.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at firstname.lastname@example.org.