In a wildly entertaining game, with massive chances for both sides, it’s Aston Villa who goes through to Wembley for the Carabao Cup final, topping Leicester City 2-1 at Villa Park for a 3-2 aggregate victory. The winning moment came as late as it possibly could, with substitute Trezeguet finding the back of the net in the 93rd minute of regulation with penalties looming.
The start of the match was intense. In the opening minutes, Jack Grealish‘s cross was stopped by the right foot of Kasper Schmeichel before down the other end James Maddison nearly put Leicester City in front but for a wonderful fingertip save by Orjan Nyland. Maddison again just missed in the seventh minute, firing just wide right with a left-footed volley.
Leicester City would rue those misses, as Aston Villa would go in front on 13 minutes as Matt Targett found some space on the left side of the six-yard box and fired past Schmeichel for the opener. The finish was emphatic and professional after the Leicester defense opened up by a brilliant run and turn by Grealish.
The Foxes were again thwarted by Nyland who acrobatically tipped a vicious shot from Youri Tielemans off the crossbar, a wonderful, shimmering save.
After halftime, Villa came close to a second through Grealish who just missed with a 54th minute shot as the hosts began to pour it on. Targett also came close but fired a long-range effort wide to the right. Again they almost had the all-important game sealer, but debutant Mbwana Samatta somehow whiffed in front of net as Grealish delivered a spectacular ball to the doorstep.
The Foxes began to push in the final 20 minutes with Jamie Vardy brought onto the pitch. Kelechi Iheanacho proved dangerous, coming close minutes before firing Leicester City level with 19 minutes to go. Harvey Barnes drives past his defender Frédéric Guilbert and fired a sumptuous cross to the far post where Iheanacho was waiting to roof the ball. Oddly enough, Barnes – essential in the creation of the equalizer – was about to be withdrawn by Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers with Demari Gray ready on the touchline, but after the goal, the substitution was reconsidered.
Leicester nearly won it with 11 minutes to go, but somehow, with Aston Villa completely unable to clear the ball from their own penalty area, the Foxes were unable to find the back of the net. Iheanacho headed the ball across the face of goal where nobody was waiting until it reached Vardy at the far post who sent it back towards the top of the six-yard box. Iheanacho then whiffed at the cutback before Maddison fired over.
The Carabao Cup does not feature extra-time, so with the score level at 1-1 and the aggregate even at 2-2, penalties were on the horizon, but Aston Villa had other ideas. The home side booked its place to Wembley on a relatively simple effort, with the Egyptian connection coming through. Ahmed El Mohamady sent a looping, long-distance cross to the far post where Trezeguet was waiting, with a simple left-footed finish before the ball hit the ground.
Overall, Jack Grealish once again showed his fabulous class, carrying Aston Villa throughout the match, proving dangerous both in transition and in the half court. Leicester City, though, will be overly disappointed having won the shot count 22 to nine and holding two-thirds of the possession. Maddison missed countless good opportunities and Vardy’s inclusion did little to help in front of net.
Villa will play in the Carabao Cup final for the ninth time in the club’s history, going for its sixth League Cup title. They will play either Manchester City or Manchester United, with City holding a 3-1 advantage going into the second leg tomorrow at the Etihad.