Euro 2020 Special

EFL Cup: Late Drama as Villa Through to Final

Aston Villa 2-1 (3-2 on agg.) Leicester City

Aston Villa are in the EFL Cup final thanks to a 93rd-minute goal from Trezeguet which put an end to Leicester City’s challenge in a pulsating semi-final clash.

Villa Park was packed to the rafters after a 1-1 draw in the first leg had left this tie finely balanced, and the pre-match SBOTOP pointed to a tight match with Villa at 3.95 to win the battle of the Midlands.

These two teams are at opposite ends of the Premier League table, but form goes out of the window in cup games, and now Villa have a date at Wembley to look forward to.

Highlights of the game

The injury to Villa’s number one keeper, Tom Heaton, has meant game time for Orjan Nyland, and the understudy played a blinder in the first leg to earn Villa a draw. And he was in brilliant form again tonight as he was called into action with just two minutes on the clock.

In a fast and frenetic start, Kelechi Iheanacho outmuscled Tyrone Mings and could have gone down under pressure from the Villa defender. But he kept his feet to get a shot away from a tight angle which Nyland blocked.

He made an even better save a couple of minutes later when Leicester broke again and James Maddison shot through Mings’ legs. And as the Foxes heaped on the pressure, the Norwegian stopper denied Maddison again with a fingertip save.

Then, on 12 minutes, Villa went ahead. Jack Grealish made a driving run forward before flicking a delightful ball to the oncoming Matt Targett, who slammed the ball past Kasper Schmeichel.

Orjan Nyland made crucial saves in order to keep Aston Villa's EFL Cup hopes alive
Aston Villa’s Orjan Nyland celebrates with his teammates after defeating Leicester City

Leicester came within inches of equalising on 31 minutes when Youri Tielemans hit a scorching shot, but Nyland made another fingertip save to divert the ball onto the bar.

Villa have been playing without a recognised striker for the last four games, and so head coach Dean Smith gave a start to new signing Mbwana Samatta after his switch from Genk. He didn’t have a sniff in a first half dominated by Leicester but his side still went into the break in front.

The Tanzanian striker had a glorious chance to mark his debut with a goal when Grealish played a brilliant defence-splitting ball through, but Samatta didn’t get a touch on it and that was his last action of the game. He got a warm reception from the crowd.

But the home fans were stunned on 71 minutes as the Foxes equalised, and it was that man Iheanacho who struck again. Harvey Barnes hit a cross-shot which fell into his path and he smashed it high into the net to make it 1-1.

Leicester were in the ascendancy but Maddison just kept on missing, and the Foxes paid the price deep in injury time.

With penalties looming, Ahmed Elmohamady swung over a superb ball and fellow substitute Trezeguet poked home at the far post to send the Villa fans wild!

What a finish!

Key statistics

The Villans managed just three shots in the first leg at the King Power, and they tripled that tonight, though the Foxes had 22 and Villa’s keeper made six fine saves.

Pick up the EFL Cup 2020 highlights if you can; Hyland was inspired!

Leicester were unbeaten in their last 16 away matches in the EFL Cup but it seems they were doomed to fail tonight. Each of the last six teams to draw the first leg of an EFL semi-final had gone on to be eliminated, and now it’s seven!

What’s next?

Aston Villa will soon discover which Manchester team they are set to meet when City host United in the second semi-final tomorrow.

The EFL Cup 2020 overwhelmingly favour the Sky Blues after they took a firm hold on the tie, winning 1-3 at Old Trafford. Then it’s back to Premier League matters for these two sides when they face very different challenges.

The Foxes are riding high in third place, comfortably in possession of a Champions League place, and they bounced back from two consecutive defeats with a comprehensive 4-1 hammering of West Ham.

That victory lifted Rodgers’ team 14 points clear of fifth place and just three points behind Manchester City in second. They can put further distance between themselves and fourth-placed Chelsea when Frank Lampard’s Blues visit the King Power Stadium; the gap is currently eight points.

Two league wins in four have lifted Villa out of the relegation zone and into a group of five teams separated by just two points, with Norwich City cut adrift.

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