Sunday, February 24, 2013

Swansea Shine in Record Breaking Cup Final

Bantams skipper Gary Jones stands devastated as
Swansea winger Nathan Dyer celebrates his brace. 

Swansea claimed the first major trophy of their 111-year history thanks to a 5-0 thrashing of League Two side Bradford City at Wembley this afternoon.

The result broke a new record and is now the highest ever score in a Capital One Cup final. Bradford, despite being three divisions below Swansea had defeated Premier League trio Arsenal, Wigan and Aston Villa on their route to the final, so many were predicting an upset.

However, Michael Laudrup's Swansea side were vastly superior, and set the precedent early on with a spell of classy possession. It took only 16 minutes for the Welsh side to open the scoring when winger Nathan Dyer tapped in a rebound following a parried shot from the ever-dangerous Michu.

Michu became provider turned scorer on the 40 minute mark, as a through ball from countryman Pablo Hernandez found him on the edge of the box. His clever turn and rapid shot left Bradford goalkeeper Matt Duke unsighted and Swansea were cruising 2-0 up at half-time.

Bradford returned for the second half eager to make more of an impression on the game, but were quickly disheartened as Dyer secured his brace on 47 minutes, curling a sweet left-foot finish into the bottom corner after a clever feint from Spaniard Michu.

Bradford's afternoon at Wembley was supposed to grant them some light relief from financial struggles and mid-table mediocrity, but it soon turned from bad to worse as Bantams goalkeeper Matt Duke received a red card for bringing down Jonathan De Guzman in the area and denying him a goal-scoring opportunity.

Nathan Dyer, eager to secure his hat-trick was prevented from taking the spot-kick as Dutch International De Guzman stepped up to make it 4-0. He then claimed a brace of his own to make it a history making five, turning in a fine cross from full-back Angel Rangel beyond substitute Bradford keeper McLaughlin.

Michael Laudrup described the cup win as the finest moment of his managerial career and has won many plaudits during his first season in charge of Swansea. This is largely down to his footballing philosophy and attractive style of play, but it is also difficult to argue against 2.2million bargain striker Michu as the signing of the season.

Bradford will be disappointed in the result, especially on such a prestigious stage, but can be proud of the character they have shown throughout the tournament. That character was reflected by the fans, who sang proudly for a whole ninety minutes despite their team's performance. Manager Phil Parkinson has done a good job in difficult circumstances at the Yorkshire club, and will count himself unlucky should he not be offered a contract extension.

A first ever European campaign beckons for the Swans next season, as they continue to build upon their promotion to the top-flight in 2011.

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