MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA 0 SWANSEA CITY 2
The Blues face an uphill battle to reach Wembley next month after errors gave Swansea a goal in each half and consigned us to consecutive home defeats.
Branislav Ivanovic was the unfortunate player on each occasion tonight and although the visitors rarely threatened otherwise, they were solid at the back. More Chelsea chances came in the first half than the second but we paid for some poor finishing, and although dominant in the second half, we couldn't create the chances to match.
Demba Ba, a substitute, did have the ball in the net in stoppage time at the end of this first leg, but was victim of a tight offside call.
There were just two changes from the side that started against Southampton. Fernando Torres replaced Demba Ba and so made his 100th Chelsea appearance. Oscar came in for Victor Moses who had departed to begin preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations. Ashley Cole was again captain.
Swansea made five changes including Michu and Pablo Hernandez returning to attack. Captain Ashley Williams and Angel Rangel came back into defence, and Gerhard Tremmel continued as the goalkeeper for this particular cup run.
Prior to kick-off, Peter Bonetti and chairman Bruce Buck made a presentation to Petr Cech to mark his 400th appearance for the Blues, which came at Everton in the final game on 2012.
It was also the match in which Cech suffered the injury which currently keeps him out. Ross Turnbull continued to deputise tonight, and was left exposed by the mistakes in front of him.
Two-leg semis are often cagey but it didn't take long for Chelsea to start to build some pressure on the Swansea goal. David Luiz only slightly over-hit a quick pass forward to the breaking Torres, and the Brazilian then appeared to have his arm pulled by Ki Sung-Yueng as he tried to get his head to a Mata corner. Ivanovic had the first true chance, which he headed over.
On 10 minutes Ramires really should have scored after great link-up play between David Luiz, Oscar and Mata found his run on the right but instead of shooting when there was the opportunity, he cut inside first one then two Swansea players and eventually toe-poked tamely at the target.
But then we ran out of ideas for a while; too many aerial balls played into the Swansea box towards players unlikely to win them. The Welsh side mustered nothing more than a Michu long-range dig straight at Turnbull.
Midway through the half Chelsea burst back into life. Mata had a promising shot blocked after the ball was won back deep in the Swansea half, and Azpilicueta drove a low shot just wide, although the keeper probably had it covered.
Hazard then tore a hole through the centre of the Swans defence but when he slipped the ball sideways to Mata unmarked, the shot was very disappointing. We should have been 2-0 up by this point.
From a more difficult position Mata rolled a shot wide of the far post soon after, Oscar the supplier with a well-judged back-heel. There was half-an-hour gone.
Mata momentarily looked favourite to beat keeper Tremmel to Torres's deflected pass into the danger zone but just missed out, and then Oscar was judged onside as Davd Luiz hit a ball over the top of the Swansea defence, but unfortunately he lost the ball as he tried to bring it down from the sky.
Swansea's goal couldn't have come more out of the blue. Ivanovic took a Turnbull pass but lost control as he turned and De Guzman nipped in. The Dutch midfielder passed out to Michu who beat Turnbull with power. There were 38 minutes played.
They were a goal up but Swansea could have been a man down soon after, Pablo Hernandez kicking Oscar's legs away from behind and hurting the Brazilian in the process. Both players remained on the pitch, the Spaniard with just a yellow card to his name.
Shortly before the interval Ivanovic shot as well as anyone in a blue shirt so far but had his effort pushed wide by the diving Tremmel.
Swansea earned a second caution soon after the restart, Chico fouling Torres in a promising position for the Blues, but David Luiz's free-kick cleared the cross with some distance to spare.
He went a lot closer with another free-kick attempt from a lot further out 10 minutes into the half. Tremmel on that occasion scrambled across to the bottom corner of his net and was happy to see the ball bounce just wide. The Swansea keeper did do well to drop on a low David Luiz shot soon after, struck with venom from the edge of the area after Mata had shown vision.
Chelsea had kept the game almost entirely in the Swansea half in this second period, but then the visitors were almost certainly content with this as a first-leg scoreline.
Hazard believed he should have had a free-kick when his run, that was threatening to break through after he and Mata had combined superbly, was halted. The flying Belgian appeared to be pushed off the ball but the ref was not in agreement.
With 20 minutes to play, Lampard replaced Ramires who had not enjoyed one of his better nights. The Blues kept pushing away at the big red-shirted barrier ahead. The Swansea keeper at one point resorted to volleying away an Oscar cross.
There was another roll of the dice by Benitez with 10 minutes remaining, Ba coming on for Torres and receiving a big cheer. Before the Senegalese could touch the ball however, we had reason to be thankful for a very close offside call that stopped Michu having a clear run on goal.
Marin then came on for Oscar who had shown flashes of class but in the end had not been able to pick the lock.
Ba had two headers at goal in a minute, the first from Ivanovic's high ball forward caught by the keeper, the second from a Marin cross going wide.
The final few minutes were full of incident but sadly with none of it going Chelsea's way.
Mata played a pass behind the defence that gave Ba and Tremmel a race to reach it. The Chelsea substitute just got a touch to it but then collided with the keeper at the cost of a free-kick to Swansea. For some reason the ref then booked Ba. It was hard to see any reason why.
Up the other end of the pitch, Ivanovic's miserable night was completed when he failed to spot Swansea sub Graham, on for Michu, as he played a pass back towards his own goal. The centre-forward took the ball wide of Turnbull to double his side's advantage.
That was on 90 minutes but there was still time for Ba to smash the ball into the Matthew Harding End net and briefly raise spirits, until the offside flag went up. Replays suggested a very close call.
The away-goal rule will only come into play at the end of any extra-time in two weeks' time in south Wales, but regardless of that it will need a far better Chelsea display to stand a chance against a side with a healthy lead to defend.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Turnbull; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole (c); Ramires (Lampard 70), David Luiz; Oscar (Marin 82), Mata, Hazard; Torres (Ba 80).
Unused subs Hilario, Ferreira, Bertrand, Ake.
Booked Ba 90.
Swansea (4-2-3-1): Tremmel; Rangel, Chico, Williams (c), Davies; Britton, Ki Sung-Yueng; Hernandez, De Guzman, Routledge (Tiendalli 62); Michu (Graham 83)
Unused subs Vorm, Monk, Agustien, Dyer, Shechter.
Scorers Michu 38, Graham 90+1.
Booked Hernandez 41, Chico 47.
Referee Anthony Taylor.