. . . national press hails club's heroic cup win over Euro kings
After the heroics of Wednesday’s night’s Capital One Cup semi-final first leg victory over European champions Chelsea, the national press have waxed lyrical about the performance of Michael Laudrup’s side.
Now on the brink of a first ever major cup final, the Swans have won more plaudits thanks to a great team performance and goals from Michu and Danny Graham setting up a 2-0 lead ahead of the second leg.
The Telegraph’s Henry Winter praised Laudrup for getting his tactics spot-on against the Champions League and FA Cup holders.
He wrote: “Praise needs bestowing on Laudrup as well as his players. He set Chelsea problems with his starting line-up and tactics and then set them more problems with his changes, particularly sending on Graham, who harried Chelsea’s defence and took Swansea’s second goal well.
Benítez was outwitted by Michael Laudrup, who set Swansea up superbly, almost as a classic counter-attacking team, as if preparing for Europe. When Chelsea had possession, which was for long periods of the game, Swansea pressed hard, then dropped deep, manning the barricades with only Michu left up.
“He (Laudrup) has been one of the managerial stars of the season and if he leads Swansea to the final his stock will soar higher than the famous arch.”
Winter also pinpointed the key performances on the pitch as the Swans shocked the Stamford Bridge crowd.
Winter added: “Laudrup’s creative wide players, Wayne Routledge and Pablo Hernández, tracked back time after time to cover their full-backs. Angel Rangel and the calm teenager Ben Davies threw themselves into blocks, working hard to stop Chelsea crosses at source.
“In the centre, Ashley Williams was immense, dominating the air (albeit predominantly against a tepid Torres), and a model of concentration and commitment that set the tone for his team. Here was a real leader, again demonstrating the character that Chelsea need more of.
“Alongside Williams, Chico Flores even found time to deal with a pitch invader.
“In possession, Swansea were neat and nimble, particularly in central midfield. Leon Britton kept moving the ball forward, occasionally darting past David Luiz. Jonathan de Guzmán broke forward, looking to link with Michu.”
Looking more at the scale of the club’s achievement, Sam Wallace, of The Independent, wrote: “The achievement of Swansea and their manager Michael Laudrup should not be overlooked on a monumental night for the club.
“They have won at Anfield and the Emirates this season but tonight was as good as either of those wins with the peerless Michu opening the scoring and his useful sidekick Danny Graham, a second-half substitute, nicking the second in added-time at the end.
“Bravo, Laudrup, who is 90 minutes away from Swansea's first-ever major cup final if they can negotiate the second leg at the Liberty Stadium in two weeks' time when away goals will count double only after extra-time is played.”
The Guardian’s Barney Ronay focussed on the Swans’ fantastic rise from the Football League basement to Wednesday night’s victory in London.
He wrote: “It has become popular recently to talk of Swansea City as a club on the crest of a rare generational surge, ten years on from financial near-collapse but now reaching fresh heights of giddily sustainable achievement on a regular basis.
“After a controlled, compact and – when the moment came for their goalscorers Michu and Danny Graham – clinical 2-0 Capital One Cup semi-final first leg victory at Stamford Bridge it is perhaps fair to say this is an all-time high for Swansea: ninth in the Premier League and now plausibly 90 minutes from their first Wembley Cup final.
“Again, it was Michu who provided the initial rapier thrust, reward for a Swansea performance not just of neat and accurate passing, but of vigorous defending, with Ashley Williams outstanding in a second half of sustained but diffuse Chelsea pressure.”
The Express’ Tony Banks has pondered over a potential final between the Swans and League Two side Bradford, who shocked Aston Villa 3-1 in their first leg.
“Two blunders, one in the first half enabling Michu to score, and the second in injury-time handing a goal to Danny Graham - put the Welsh club on the brink of their first major cup final in 100 topsy-turvy, sometimes very grim, years of history. Just ten years ago, they were on the brink of extinction,” wrote Banks.
“The good people at Capital One probably had not bargained on a Swansea versus Bradford final. But that is what is on the cards this morning.
Glamorous it may well not be - and of course, it may well not happen. There are still 180 minutes of football at Villa Park and the Liberty Stadium to go in a fortnight's time.
“But if Aston Villa, sensationally humbled 3-1 at Bradford on Tuesday, and Chelsea, shocked to the very core by this result last night, are to recover, they are both going to require near superhuman performances.”