Laudrup hails 'fairytale' achievement

23rd January 2013

Michael Laudrup hailed his players after seeing his side overcome Chelsea to reach the final of the Capital One Cup.

The Swans went into the second leg with a two-goal advantage following victory at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago, and had chances to extend their lead early on through Wayne Routledge and Michu.

The opening exchanges were a tense affair as Chelsea looked to force their way back into the game, but the Swans defence restricted them to efforts from long range.

As the game wore on the visitors became increasingly frustrated and Eden Hazard was shown a straight red card late on for an off the ball incident.

Laudrup's men stood firm, however, and booked a date at Wembley in a month's time where they will face League Two side Bradford.

"To be in final for the first time is absolutely fantastic," said the Swans boss. "We've just beaten the European champions over two games and it's an incredible achievement.

"What gave me the belief that we could do it was the start we had. We had two great chances early on, and everyone was into the game.

"Then, after the red card, I saw the reaction of the players and I knew it was done."

Chelsea arrived at the Liberty with a mountain to climb following that result at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago.

The Swans hadn't lost by two goals for 24 matches and despite the best efforts of Demba Ba, Juan Mata and Frank Lampard, the hosts stood firm to deserve their place in history.

Swansea have never reached a major cup final and many pundits tipped them to run Chelsea close, but ultimately bow out at the semi-final stage.

"They new they had to score at least two goals," said Laudrup. "But, in many ways, it was similar to the first game. They had spells with a lot of possession but they didn't really have any big chances.

"We knew it was going to difficult, even before the first leg. Everyone needs a couple of days to realise we are there, and we have a month now to enjoy it.

"It isn't very often in football you can enjoy, but now we can - what we have done is a small fairytale."

Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez was left to reflect on a disappointing cup exit - citing his side's inability to take their chances as the catalyst for defeat.

"We didn't start the game well," he said. "We didn't hit the target or score the first goal - that was the big difference.

"They managed the game well and we have to congratulate Swansea. They are a good team and play well on the counter attack.

"I was convinced that we could score but we didn't create any clear chances, particularly in the first half."