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Jan 23, 2013

Hazard sees red in Chelsea's Cup ouster

Eden Hazard got himself sent off for kicking at a ball boy who didn't give him the ball quickly enough as Chelsea was eliminated from the League Cup with a 0-0 tie at Swansea in the semifinals on Wednesday night.

As the ball bounced off an advertising board behind the goal line at Swansea's Liberty Stadium late in the match, a 17-year-old ball boy in a Swansea sweatsuit slowly walked over to pick it up.

Hazard ran up to reclaim the ball for a goal kick, and the ball boy fell over, stomach toward the ground and the ball under him. The Belgian winger leaned over, tried to pull the ball free with both hands and then kicked at it under the youth.

After Hazard got the ball free, he picked it up and jogged back onto the field. The ball boy, who has worked for Swansea for six years, rolled onto his back and clutched the right side of his ribs as he was attended to.

Hazard was given a red card by referee Chris Foy in the 80th minute. Swansea won the total-goal series on 2-0 aggregate and will play fourth-tier Bradford in the final at Wembley on Feb. 24.

"Chelsea invited the ball boy into the dressing room after the game to shake hands with Hazard and both parties apologized," Swansea said in a statement. "The ball boy was very impressed with the welcome he received from the Chelsea players and as far as both clubs and individuals are concerned the matter is closed."

Swansea quoted Hazard as saying "the boy put his whole body onto the ball and I was just trying to kick the ball. 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."

A Swansea spokesman said Hazard will not face a criminal investigation.

"The police have interviewed the boy and his father and there are no charges going to be pressed, as far as they are concerned that is the matter closed," the spokesman said.

Swansea defender Ashley Williams claimed he saw Hazard kick the ballboy that resulted in the Chelsea star's red card overshadowing Swansea's progress to the Cup final.

"Demba Ba told me the ball boy held on to it," Williams told Sky Sports 1. "I saw him kick him in the rib and you can't do that to a young boy."

Chelsea players reacted angrily when Hazard saw red, believing he had tried to get the ball loose to re-start play as the Blues failed to make any inroads on Swansea's 2-0 advantage from the first leg. It will be the first major English final in the Swans' 100-year history.

"They both recognize there was a mistake," Benitez said. "The boy was apologizing for time wasting. Hazard was frustrated and tried to get the ball. He was kicking the ball and getting the ball."

On the club's official Twitter feed, Chelsea said football had "gone mad."

"Hazard is sent off for kicking the ball under a ball boy attempting to smother the ball rather than return it," Chelsea's tweet read.

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup said Hazard would regret his actions.

"The ball boy should have let the ball go, but he was pushed first and then he kicks him," Laudrup said. "As a player when you are behind, your pulse is very high and sometimes you say and do things. You overreact. But there are some things you cannot do."

Hazard is in his first season with Chelsea after joining the English club from Lille for 32 million pounds ($51 million).

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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