Swansea beats Bradford to win first major trophy
LONDON (AP) — After accumulating titles with Europe's biggest clubs as a player, Michael Laudrup reached unexpected heights in his first year as Swansea manager on Sunday by guiding the Welsh club to its first major trophy in its centenary season.
In the heaviest victory League Cup final victory, Swansea overwhelmed Bradford 5-0 in front of 82,597 fans at Wembley Stadium to end the northern English club's hopes of becoming the first fourth-tier side to win a major title in Europe.
Beating Bradford provided a reminder of the depths Swansea has recovered from since coming close to financial meltdown and within 90 minutes of dropping out of the fourth division a decade ago.
Now ninth in its second season of the Premier League, the team's much-admired brand of eye-catching attacking football has been rewarded with a trophy.
Laudrup, the former Denmark playmaker who filled the void left by Brendan Rodgers' move to Liverpool in June, never expected success to come so soon.
"It's one thing to win a cup with Barcelona, Madrid or Juventus, but to win it with a smaller team like Swansea is absolutely fantastic," Laudrup said. "It's a first major trophy ever (for Swansea) and, especially in this season, it's up there with the best things."
Midfielder Leon Britton knows just what the trophy means to Swansea, having been with the club when it was on the bottom rung in professional football. The team will now play in the Europa League next season.
"We nearly dropped out of the Football League and now here we are in the Premier League, winning our first major honor and qualifying for Europe," Britton said.
Bradford knocked out Premier League sides Arsenal, Aston Villa and Wigan to become the first fourth-tier team to reach a major English final since 1962.
But Swansea did not face a moment of danger, with goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel's first save only coming in the 87th following Gary Jones' tame shot.
The toughest fight the south Wales club faced was over who should take a penalty that led to the fourth goal after Bradford was reduced to 10 men with goalkeeper Matt Duke dismissed.
Nathan Dyer had already scored twice, either side of Michu's strike, but was denied a hat trick when Jonathan de Guzman insisted on taking the spot kick on the hour.
De Guzman went on to complete the thrashing in stoppage time with his second goal.
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