Flashback: Swansea’s strange 2013 League Cup win
When you look at the list of English teams that have played in the Europa League in recent years, you’d have to double check to see that Swansea City were actually in there as well. In 2013, they beat Bradford 5-0 in the League Cup final at Wembley in one of the strangest cup runs in recent history —one that shocked the Bet exchange not just for the opponents they beat, but that their opponents were League Two outfit Bradford City. With the League Cup approaching its latter stages, there’s no better time to look at how the events unfolded.
A solid Premier League outfit at the time, Swansea, who had just lost manager Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool that summer, now had Denmark legend Michael Laudrup in charge and were swiftly making a name for themselves as one of the most entertaining teams in the country.
Indeed, their promotion from the Championship spearheaded a crest of a wave which the Swans rode through Wembley and into a succession of top flight campaigns, ending in 2018 with an underwhelming relegation. Those were the glory years at the Liberty Stadium, and the League Cup exemplifies just that. So read on, as we go through their crazy cup run almost nine years ago.
Where to start with Bradford. A midtable League Two team at the time, the Bantams journey to Wembley was redolent of a fairy-tale. A magical quarter final underneath the floodlights at Valley Parade saw Phil Parkinson’s side beat Arsenal on penalties. A bearpit atmosphere simply overwhelmed Aston Villa in the semis, who succumbed to a 3-1 defeat in the first leg, which gave them too much to do at Villa Park. Despite losing 2-1 away, Bradford ran out winners on aggregate and made their way to London with talisman Nahki Wells in red-hot form. An upset could have easily been on the cards.
The run up
Swansea’s path to the capital was also an interesting one. They also had a heavy hitter that donned the number nine — silky Spaniard Michu. Going down as one of the greatest one season wonders in the Premier League’s history, everything he seemed to touch turned to goals and it meant the Swans dispatched Rodgers’ Liverpool, Middlesbrough and eventually Chelsea over two legs in a tie that was overshadowed by Eden Hazard kicking a ball boy! Laudrup’s side were as classy as they were deadly in front of goal, and with captain Ashley Williams leading an inspired group, it seemed destiny was on the Swans side.
All hopes of a Braford miracle were crushed inside the 16th minute when Nathan Dyer put Swansea ahead before Michu got his customary goal. It was a first half in which Swansea controlled proceedings and gave Braford very little space to play on the break — something they did so effectively in the earlier stages of the competition. For as good as Laudrup’s side were tactically, it helped that their opposition were simply inferior in terms of skill and it seemed fitness. The festive period must have taken its toll on the Bantams, or perhaps it was the emotion and panic associated with a once in a life time opportunity as Swansea cruised into a 3-0 lead with Dyer grabbing his brace.
It wasn’t the only brace to be fired in at Wembley that afternoon though as Jonathan de Guzmán, one of the driving forces for Swansea in terms of creativity, completed the rout to make it 5-0. Although Bradford had a short period in which they perpetrated a small plethora of half chances, enough to earn applause from their admittedly loud section of Wembley. In the end, it was the Swans that ran out comfortable winners and the images of a crazy cup run will live long in the memory of the Liberty faithful — and considering how they are performing at the moment, chances like that really do feel like once in a lifetime.