Swansea’s defence of the Capital One Cup ended at the first hurdle as they were knocked out courtesy of a resounding defeat at Birmingham City.
It is just over seven months since Michael Laudrup’s side lifted the first major honour in their 101-year history with a thumping 5-0 victory over Bradford at Wembley. But the holders were brought crashing back down to earth by another side who also share fond recent memories of the competition – 2011 winners Birmingham.
It was a classic game of two halves in the third-round tie as the Swans saw plenty of the ball in the opening period and hit the woodwork twice within a matter of seconds through Wilfried Bony and Alejandro Pozuelo.
But the youthful Championship side got on top after the break and Dan Burn headed home his first goal for the club in the 57th minute before Matt Green added a second from close range soon after.
Inspired by winger Chris Burke, who played his part in all three goals, Tom Adeyemi also got in on the act with his maiden goal late on, with Bony grabbing a consolation with virtually the last touch.
Laudrup had made no secret of his desire to lift the Capital One Cup in successive seasons, despite the heavy demands of the Europa League, although he did make 10 changes from Sunday’s Premier League victory at Crystal Palace, with midfielder Jonjo Shelvey the only survivor.
Yet his in-form side, having won three of their last unbeaten four including a memorable 3-0 triumph in Valencia, were unable to reproduce their heroics from the Mestalla in the Midlands.
The only downside of the evening for Birmingham was that there were only 7,470 in attendance to watch what was the biggest upset of the third round. There was very little for the sparse crowd to get excited about inside the opening stages, but that all changed in the 18th minute.
Jonathan de Guzman’s corner was headed goalwards by Bony but Paul Caddis, at the back post, reacted quickly to nod the ball up against the crossbar and out in the direction of Pozuelo, who duly hammered the rebound back against the woodwork.
Birmingham captain Paul Robinson produced a great tackle to deny the Ivorian striker when he found himself one-on-one before goalkeeper Colin Doyle used his legs to block from Roland Lamah when he was also sent clean through.
The hosts immediately looked more dangerous after the interval and after 12 minutes Burke found Caddis down the right and his cross was headed home by Burn from six yards. Just four minutes later and Birmingham were 2-0 ahead, Burke, again the creator, played in Mitch Hancox down the left and he crossed low for Green to fire home from close range.
All hopes of a Swansea comeback were extinguished in the 81st minute.Adeyemi caught out Jordi Amat on the edge of his own penalty area and the ball broke for Burke, who played the ball back to the midfielder to wrap up a superb evening for Lee Clark’s side – despite Bony’s injury-time header from Wayne Routledge’s corner.
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Doyle; Spector, Burn, Robinson, Reilly; Caddis, Adeyemi, Hancox, Burke; Green, Ferguson (Shinnie, 83). Substitutes not used Ambrose, Lovenkrands, Arthur, Lee, Allan, Townsend.
Swansea City (4-3-2-1) : Tremmel; Tiendalli, Amat, Monk, Taylor; Lamah (Routledge, 82), De Guzman (Vazquez, 64), Britton; Pozuelo, Shelvey (Canas, 73); Bony. Substitutes not used Vorm, Chico, Michu, B Davies.
Referee K Stroud (Hampshire).