Swansea City hold Chelsea to a draw to reach Capital One Cup Final
SWANSEA City strode into the Capital One Cup final after holding Chelsea to a 0-0 draw to win their semi-final 2-0 on aggregate.
Chances were at a premium during a tense encounter at the Liberty Stadium, but seldom has a goalless stalemate ever sparked such wild celebrations.
This will be the Swans' first ever appearance at a major cup final and, with Bradford City waiting for them in the final, they will be favourites to lift the trophy.
Bradford's remarkable pilgrimage to Wembley made reaching the final all the more tantalising for these two sides.
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Although there is an irresistible romance in the way the Bantams have punched above their weight by toppling the likes of Arsenal and Aston Villa, Swansea and Chelsea will have been salivating at the prospect of taking on a fourth-tier side in the final.
Michael Laudrup's men must now grapple with the alien concept of being favourites, the Premier League cruiserweights hoping to trample over the dreams of their lowly opponents.
Theirs has also been a stirring journey to the final, though. Victories at Anfield and Stamford Bridge rank high among Swansea's greatest results, and a place in the final was also beyond their expectations at the start of this season.
This, after all, is a club that rummaged around the darkness of the bottom division when Bradford celebrated their top-flight survival in 2000.
While the sponsors may weep, neutrals and purists are bound to be relishing the prospect of a League Cup final without the usual suspects.
And, stoically, resolutely, Swansea secured their place for this showpiece.
There was a heart-stopping moment for Swansea after just seven minutes when Chelsea striker Demba Ba fell under a challenge from Ben Davies in the hosts' penalty area, but referee Chris Foy waved play on.
Swansea then created the best opportunity of the half as Leon Britton and Wayne Routledge combined deftly to release Michu, whose shot was saved well by Petr Cech.
After a lively opening quarter of an hour, the remainder of the first half was played at a steadier pace as both sides appeared to be stymied by the palpable tension.
Chelsea probed forward as they looked to reduce their aggregate deficit but, led by the heroic Ashley Williams, Swansea kept the game goalless at half time.
It was much the same after the restart, with Chelsea pressing the Swans but rarely troubling the hosts in earnest.
The game then took a bizarre twist as Chelsea's Eden Hazard was sent off for kicking a ball boy.
That incident rattled the bedraggled visitors and, although the European champions threw themselves forward desperately, Swansea held on.