Swansea fans rejoiced as their Swans reached the League Cup final, but Wednesday night’s match at the Liberty Stadium will be remembered for a freak incident.
Chelsea‘s Eden Hazard was shown a red card with about 10 minutes remaining in the club’s 0-0 second leg (Swansea won two-leg tie 2-0) after he kicked a ball boy who had fallen on top of a ball that had gone over the touch line.
With about 10 minutes remaining, Hazard tried to get the ball from the boy, who fell to the ground. Hazard attempted to kick the ball from under the boy, but appeared to make contact with him in the ribs.
As the youngster sat up and began rubbing his ribs, channeling the ire of Chelsea fans who believed he was embellishing the incident, referee Chris Hoy spoke with the nearby assistant referee before he ejected Hazard. After the match, Hazard told Chelsea TV, “The boy put his whole body on to the ball and I was just trying to kick the ball.”
The red card led to whomever handles Chelsea’s official Twitter account to post something that angered the club’s many haters.
“Has football gone mad? Hazard is sent off for kicking the ball under a ball boy attempting to smother the ball,” the post stated. An apology later was issued, noting Hazard met with the boy. Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez said both of them apologized for the incident as they met in Chelsea’s locker room after the match.
“They both recognize there was a mistake. The boy was apologizing for time wasting. Hazard was frustrated and tried to get the ball. He was kicking the ball and getting the ball,” said Benitez. “We can analyze if for half an hour but we know that both are wrong.”
South Wales Police did interview the ballboy, whom they did not identify as he was under age 18, but noted the boy and his father said they would not file charges against Hazard.
Swansea and League Two side Bradford City will meet in the League Cup final Feb. 24 at Wembley Stadium. The winner earns a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds.