LONDON, England, February 24 – Swansea City ended Bradford City’s League Cup fairytale with a record-breaking 5-0 victory in the final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday to crown the club’s centenary year with a first major trophy.
Bradford had accounted for Arsenal, Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic en route to the final, but they fell well short in their bid to become the first team from England’s fourth division to lift one of the game’s most coveted prizes.
Goals from Nathan Dyer and Michu gave Swansea a 2-0 half-time lead, with Dyer doubling his tally early in the second half before Jonathan de Guzman added a fourth with a penalty after Bradford goalkeeper Matt Duke was sent off.
De Guzman made it five in injury time as Swansea broke the victory margin record set by Manchester United against Wigan Athletic in the 2006 final.
“As a player, I had the luck to play in the biggest teams in different countries,” Swansea manager Michael Laudrup told BBC radio.
“Swansea is not the biggest team in the Premier League, but we are here winning a trophy and that is fantastic. To win a trophy with a smaller club is outstanding.”
Bradford mustered just one attempt at goal over the course of the 90 minutes, but their fans nonetheless revelled in the achievement of being the first English fourth-tier side to reach a major Wembley final.
“We will dust ourselves down,” said Bradford coach Phil Parkinson.
“We have enjoyed the whole experience and we will go back up to Bradford and enjoy the last 15 league games. We have a chance of promotion (from League Two) so we will make a go of it.”
Laudrup surprisingly fielded midfielder Ki Sung-yueng at centre-back in place of the injured Chico Flores, but the South Korean had a gentle introduction to the game as the Welsh club bossed possession.
Ben Davies was unable to convert Swansea’s first chance of note, leaping well to head wide from Angel Rangel’s high cross in the 14th minute, but two minutes later, Laudrup’s men took the lead.
Bradford had ventured forward en masse for the first time, but when the move broke down mid-way inside the Swansea half, the minnows were exposed.
Wayne Routledge drove forward before slipping the ball wide to Michu, and when the Spaniard’s low shot was palmed away by Duke, Dyer slid in to put Swansea ahead from close range.
The advantage procured, Swansea seemed in no hurry to extend their lead.
Leon Britton sliced a half-volley wide after a corner was half-cleared in the 31st minute, and Swansea did not have another attempt at goal until Michu doubled their advantage five minutes before half-time.
Pablo Hernandez threaded a pass into his countryman’s feet and with Bradford’s defenders standing off, Michu had time to turn and take a touch before prodding a left-foot shot into the bottom-right corner.
Shortly afterwards, Britton sent Routledge scampering down the inside-right channel, but his shot was pushed over the bar by Duke, who comfortably caught a subsequent shot from Hernandez.
Any hopes Bradford had of mounting a second-half comeback vanished in the 47th minute when Dyer sped down the right flank and exchanged passes with Routledge before lashing a shot inside the left-hand post.
Improbably, things went from bad to worse for Bradford in the 56th minute when Duke was shown a straight red card for felling Dyer in the penalty area.
De Guzman had to brush aside the claims of hat-trick-hunting Dyer to take the resulting spot-kick, but the Dutchman was unnerved, whipping a confident shot into the bottom-left corner following a short run-up.
Michu shot narrowly wide moments later, but the game was over as a contest and Bradford’s fans resorted instead to waving their flags and shouting their love for their club into the London sky.
Swansea were not quite finished, however, and after Dwight Tiendalli hit the bar with a curling shot, De Guzman touched home Rangel’s low cross in injury time to complete a record-breaking rout.