LONDON – Chelsea star Eden Hazard was ejected for kicking at a ball boy who didn't return the ball to him quickly enough as the Blues were eliminated from the English League Cup with a 0-0 tie at Swansea in the semifinals on Wednesday night.
With Chelsea needing two goals to force overtime, the ball bounced off an advertising board behind the goal line at Swansea's Liberty Stadium late in the match. A ball boy in a Swansea sweatsuit slowly walked over to pick it up.
Hazard ran up to reclaim the ball and the ball boy fell over, stomach toward the ground and the ball under him. The Belgian winger leaned over the kid, tried to pull the ball free with both hands and then kicked at it under the ball boy.
After Hazard got the ball free, he picked it up and jogged back onto the field with it. The ball boy rolled onto his back and clutched the right side of his ribs as he was attended to. The ball boy was able to resume his duties.
Swansea won the total-goal series on 2-0 aggregate and will play fourth-tier Bradford in the final at Wembley on Feb. 24.
Hazard was given a red card by referee Chris Foy in the 80th minute, and the European champions finished a man short.
"Has football gone mad?" Chelsea said on its official Twitter feed. "Hazard is sent off for kicking the ball under a ball boy attempting to smother the ball rather than return it."
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."