The highlight of a soccer game between Chelsea and Swansea in Wales turned out to be an incident involving a player on Chelsea, who was ejected after apparently kicking a ball boy.
Chelsea star Eden Hazard was ejected Wednesday for kicking at a ball boy who didn’t return the ball to him quickly enough in the final minutes of a semifinal game in the English League Cup.
The ball bounced off an advertising board behind the goal line at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium late in the scoreless match. A 17-year-old ball boy picked up the ball, but when Hazard tried to reclaim it to continue the game, the ball boy went down to the ground and smothered the ball.
Hazard, 22, tried to lodge the ball free with his hands but was unsuccessful. Hazard then kicked the ball free from under him, but apparently made contact with the teen, who was left holding his mid-section.
Several Chelsea players were seen tending to the ball boy and helping him to his feet after the incident. The ball boy left the game. A referee gave Hazard a red card, throwing him out of the game.
“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.”
The ball boy’s name has not been released. No criminal charges have been filed.
“The boy put his whole body onto the ball and I was just trying to kick the ball and I think I kicked the ball and not the boy,” Hazard said after the incident, although he still apologized.
Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez said Hazard met with the ball boy after the incident.
“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.”
The match finished in a scoreless tie, but because Swansea scored two goals in their two previous meetings, it advanced to the next round.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.