Swansea beats Chelsea in 1st leg of League Cup semifinals
Branislav Ivanovic commits 2 defensive errors
Swansea capitalized on two defensive lapses by Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic to win 2-0 in the first leg of the League Cup semi-finals on Wednesday, moving the Welsh team close to its first major final.
Prolific forward Michu made the most of Ivanovic's poor control to open the scoring from the edge of the area in the 39th minute at Stamford Bridge, his 16th goal of a spectacular first season in British football.
And a miserable night for Ivanovic was completed when a sloppy back-pass was seized upon by Danny Graham, who rounded goalkeeper Ross Turnbull and slotted the ball into an empty net in injury time.
2 weeks until next leg
The second leg is in two weeks' time, with Swansea now in with a great chance of claiming a first major trophy in its 100-year history. In the other semi-final, fourth-tier club Bradford holds a shock 3-1 lead over Aston Villa after Tuesday's first leg at home.
The League Cup would have been way down the list of priorities for Chelsea at the start of the season, but four opportunities for silverware have already been squandered — including an unprecedented elimination at the Champions League group stage as holders. Challenging for the Premier League title is also unlikely, given the team is 14 points behind leader Manchester United.
For that reason, interim manager Rafael Benitez selected arguably a full-strength lineup, with Fernando Torres replacing new signing Demba Ba up front for his 100th club appearance. But the hosts were picked off by Swansea's only two real chances and produced a defensive effort that was superbly marshalled by captain Ashley Williams.
Juan Mata and Ramires wasted great chances in the opening half hour when presented with clear sights at goal, whereas Swansea hardly threatened until Michu's goal.
Chelsea goalkeeper Ross Turnbull's short pass to Ivanovic was allowed to slip free by the Serbia defender, and Jonathan de Guzman nipped in to dispossess him. The languid Michu — virtually anonymous up to that point — latched onto the ball and buried a curling shot into the corner with his left foot.
Michu signing comes at a bargain
Bought for just 2 million pounds ($3.2 million) from Spanish side Rayo Vallecano in the off-season, he is proving to be one of the signings of the season, with esteemed managers such as Manchester United's Alex Ferguson and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger acknowledging they had barely heard of him.
David Luiz, again playing in a midfield role for Chelsea instead of in defence, side-footed straight at goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel in the 58th. The frustration built among the home support and Benitez was urged to bring on Ba and Frank Lampard from the bench.
Both came on, with Ba in particular making his presence felt. He had a goal disallowed for offside, was booked for diving after colliding with Tremmel in what looked a harsh decision, and twice headed just off target.
But in the second minute of injury time, Ivanovic failed to spot Graham lurking behind him as he passed the ball back to Turnbull — and the substitute did the rest.