Hazard boots ball boy, Swansea win

AFP and Reuters, SWANSEA, Wales

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 - Page 20

Eden Hazard was sent off for kicking a ball boy as European champions Chelsea fell to Swansea City in the second leg of their English League Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg, Swansea held out for a goalless draw at the Liberty Stadium to reach the first major final in their history, which will see the Welsh club meet fourth-tier Bradford City at Wembley on Feb. 24.

It was a bad day all round for the visitors, who had Belgian winger Hazard sent off for lashing out in frustration at a ball boy who was preventing him from retrieving the ball with 10 minutes of the game remaining.

Hazard later met the 17-year-old ball boy — named locally as Charlie Morgan, son of the Swansea City director Martin Morgan — in the Chelsea dressing room and apologized for the incident.

Hazard said he had not intended to boot the ballboy.

“The boy put his whole body on to the ball and I was just trying to kick the ball and I think I kicked the ball and not the boy,” Hazard told Chelsea TV, according to the club’s official Web site.

“I apologize. The ball boy came in the changing room and we had a quick chat and I apologized and the boy apologized as well, and it is over. Sorry,” he said.

The red card will lead the 22-year-old to be banned for three games, though there may be scope for that sanction to be extended.

“They have apologized to each other,” Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez told reporters. “They knew they were both wrong. He [the ball boy] was wasting time. Hazard wanted to get the ball back quickly and he was kicking. They both made mistakes.”

“We will deal with this internally. He was frustrated and just wanted to get the ball back, but we will analyze it and see what happens,” Benitez said.