Aston Villa booked their place in the Carabao Cup final after Trézeguét’s stoppage time goal earned a dramatic 2-1 success over Leicester at Villa Park, a 3-2 aggregate victory.
The hosts had opened the scoring when defender Matt Targett struck early on, but it was a string of fantastic saves from Ørjan Nyland that kept Villa in front by half time.
A frantic start to the game saw Nyland deny James Maddison twice, before his outstanding save tipped Youri Tielemans’ effort onto the crossbar. Prior to that save, Targett had opened the scoring for Villa, drilling home Jack Grealish’s layoff past Kasper Schmeichel in Leicester’s goal.
But Villa’s Norwegian keeper was powerless to stop Iheanacho turning home Harvey Barnes’ cross 20 minutes from time, bringing the two sides level on aggregate.
However, it was the hosts who would have the last say, as substitute Ahmed Elmohamady found fellow replacement Trézeguét with a superb final minute delivery; the Egyptian stroking the ball home at the far post to send Villa Park into ecstasy.
Here’s 90min’s breakdown of the game.
Key Talking Point
Where else to start? Trézeguét’s winning goal and hats off to head coach Dean Smith, whose inspired substitutions sealed his side’s passage to Wembley.
Villa were under the cosh after the visitors equalised and the hosts could have easily settled for penalties, but they believed and were rewarded for their belief.
A great Elmohamady cross evaded Leicester full-back Ricardo Pereira at the far post and was guided sweetly into the far corner by Trézeguét. Cue absolute euphoria as Villa fans celebrated yet another trip to Wembley in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Starting XI: Nyland (8); Konsa (7), Mings (7), Hause (6); Guilbert (6), Luiz (6), Nakamba (6), Targett (7); El Ghazi (6), Grealish (7), Samatta (6)
Substitutes: Trézeguét (7), Elmohamady (7), Davis (6)
Ørjan Nyland – Star Player
Nyland was reinstated to the Villa team after new number one Pepe Reina was ruled out before kick off through injury.
It’s fair to say Nyland took his chance with open arms and more than showed his worth in between the sticks. A truly wonderful performance.
Villa’s keeper Oerjan Nyland is playing infuriatingly well. 3 unbelievable saves.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) January 28, 2020
Villa 1 Leicester 0 at HT. Nyland masterclass so far.
— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) January 28, 2020
34′ | Nyland makes another ridiculous save, as he tips a shot from Tielemans onto the crossbar.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) January 28, 2020
Twice in the opening 10 minutes, the Norwegian stopper made two excellent saves from James Maddison. Diving low to his left on both occasions, he was able to twice divert Maddison’s arrowed low drives around the post.
But he wasn’t done there, after a relatively quiet period for Leicester, the Foxes suddenly sparked into life with Tielemans’ thunderous shot but again Nyland came to the home side’s rescue.
This time he showed great athleticism to acrobatically tip the Belgian’s shot onto the crossbar and preserve Villa’s lead in the tie.
Now to see whether he keeps his place for the final.
Key Talking Point
Over the past few weeks, Kelechi Iheanacho has shown his worth to Leicester – and the Nigerian was again on hand to bring the Foxes back into the game.
A constant thorn in Villa’s side, Iheanacho seems determined to score against Villa whenever he plays them and it was another performance of the highest quality from the former Manchester City star.
His third goal of the season against Villa (in all competitions) demonstrated his predatory instincts in front of goal, and revived what had been an indifferent performance from the visitors.
Good in spells, Leicester also allowed Villa too much time on the ball and surrendered a number of chances that Brendan Rodgers will have been unhappy with. The control that Leicester have shown for much of the season was missing here, even though they still looked dangerous on the counter.
Missing out on a Wembley final will be deeply disappointing, but does allow Leicester to refocus on their efforts to finish in the top four.
Starting XI: Schmeichel (5); Ricardo (6), Evans (6), Soyuncu (6), Chilwell (7); Ndidi (6), Tielemans (7); Perez (5), Maddison (7*), Barnes (6); Iheanacho (7)
Substitutes: Vardy (6), Gray (6)
James Maddison – Star Player
The Leicester midfielder started with the bit between his teeth and he had chances to put his side in front at Villa Park.
However, it was not through lack of trying nor through lack of quality, but more to do with Nyland’s sensational performance that he failed to put Leicester in front. Still, a fantastic performance.
James Maddison looks on it tonight
— James White (@JamesWh53873062) January 28, 2020
James Maddison HAS to be starting at the Euros, absolute baller
— Mike Lilley (@Michael_Lilley) January 28, 2020
The attacking midfielder was a constant threat, finding pockets of space in between the lines and driving at the Villa defence. He was the visitors main danger all night and was the one pulling the strings.
Played his part in Leicester’s goal, threading through a neat ball to Harvey Barnes, who in turn found Iheanacho at the back post.
Next up, it’s a return to Premier League action for both of these sides. The Foxes entertain Chelsea in Saturday’s early kick-off while Villa travel to Bournemouth for a relegation six-pointer later in the afternoon.