top of page

Game #5526

Aston Villa

Drew

Semi Final

Last 5: 🟩 🟥 🟩 🟥 🟨

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

League Cup

Leicester City

King Power Stadium

Attendance: 31,280

Leicester City

1-1

Aston Villa

Assist(s) | Anwar El Ghazi | 28' |

MATCH SUMMARY

Villa battle to a creditable draw in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi final.

KEY MAN

Frédéric Guilbert gives Villa the lead in the EFL Cup Semi Final, 8 January 2020.

2020-21 (h) Aston Villa Kit.gif
2020-21 (h) Aston Villa Kit.gif
2021-22 Matchweek 38.jpg

Copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission.

MATCH TIMELINE

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

⚽ | 28’ Goal, 1-0, Frédéric Guilbert, Assist by Anwar El Ghazi
🟨 | 35’ Booking, Anwar El Ghazi for a bad foul
🕒 | HT Leicester City 0-1 Aston Villa
🔁 | 67’ Sub off, Trézéguet, Sub on Conor Hourihane
🟨 | 73’ Booking, Ezri Konsa for time wasting
🥅 | 74’ Goal, 1-1, (Leicester City), Kelechi Iheanacho
🔁 | 74’ Sub off, Anwar El Ghazi, Sub on, Indiana Vassilev
🔁 | 85’ Sub off, Marvelous Nakamba, Sub on, Henri Lansbury
🕒 | FT Leicester City 1-1 Aston Villa

ON THIS DAY

*Villa boss Dean Smith*

“We haven’t got any centre forwards, it’s as simple as that. Jonathan Kodjia came off the training pitch ill yesterday. Hopefully we can be as good as Manchester City last night. We’ve got no choice! We don’t have any centre forwards. That’s where we are.”

*Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers*

“Aston Villa have no striker, that’s unfortunate for Dean but they have players who can play there, they have a good team and we’ll have to be at our best to get a result.

Former Villa winger Marc Albrighton came on as a 79’ substitute for Leicester.

Aston Villa

European Cup / Champions League: 🏆
League Champions: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆🏆
FA Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆🏆
League Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆
Last Trophy: 1995-96

Leicester City

European Cup / Champions League: ❌
League Champions: 🏆
FA Cup Winners: ❌
League Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆
Last Trophy: 2015-16

FIXTURE HISTORY

Leicester City

Previous 5 vs. Leicester: 🟥 🟩 🟥 🟨 🟥

PREVIOUS MATCH

NEXT MATCH

FIXTURE DETAILS

Villa.gif
2509-2.png

Season | 2019-20 |
Matchday | #27 |
Manager Game | #65 |
Wednesday, 8 January 2020

MATCH SUMMARY

Manager: Dean Smith | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | West Bromwich, 2018-2021
Referee: Chris Kavanagh | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Ashton-under-Lyne, 2014-
Kick off: 8.00pm
HT Score: 🟩 1-0
FT Score: 🟨 1-1
FT Result: 🟨 Drew
Last 5: 🟩 🟥 🟩 🟥 🟨

MANAGERIAL RECORD

Dean Smith | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |

GAMES | WINS | DRAWS | LOSSES | POINTS PER GAME

🕒 65 | 🟩 | 29 🟨 | 14 🟥 22 | 1.55

Villa Career Form:

Top 8

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Chris Kavanagh | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Ashton-under-Lyne, 2014-
Matches Officiated: 7
🟩 : 2
🟨 : 2
🟥 : 3
🆘 : 1
Previous 5: 🟨 🟥 🟥 🟥 🟩
Last Match: 🟩 26 Dec 19, Villa 1-0 Norwich (h) 🆘
Cards: 🟨 🟨 🟨
Assistants: Daniel Cook, Sian Massey-Ellis

ALL THE MATCHES REFEREED BY:

CARDS

Villa

🟨 🟨

Leicester City

🟨

TEAM NEWS

Frédéric Guilbert, Ezri Konsa, Kortney Hause and Tyrone Mings were reinstated in the starting XI after being rested for the FA Cup 3rd Round tie with only Ørjan Nyland, Neil Taylor, Marvelous Nakamba and Anwar El Ghazi retaining their places.

Douglas Luiz, Jack Grealish and Trézéguet returned as Villa lined up with 3 at the back once again but now with no centre forward as Jonathan Kodjia was ruled out due to illness.

Indiana Vassilev was once again named on the substitutes bench after his weekend debut but new loan signing Danny Drinkwater was cup tied.

TEAM STATS

Starting XI Average Age: | 25.54 |
Substitute Average Age: | 25.70 |
Oldest Player: LB Neil Taylor | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | 30.94 |
Youngest Player: M Douglas Luiz | 🇧🇷 | 21.68 |

MANAGER

Dean Smith | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |

Villa.gif

Aston Villa

GK Ørjan Nyland | 🇳🇴 |
RB Frédéric Guilbert | 🇫🇷 | ⚽ |
CB Ezri Konsa | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🟨 |
CB Kortney Hause | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CB Tyrone Mings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
LB Neil Taylor | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 |
M Douglas Luiz | 🇧🇷 |
M Jack Grealish | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Marvelous Nakamba | 🇿🇼 | 🔁 |
W Trézéguet | 🇪🇬 | 🔁 |
W Anwar El Ghazi | 🇳🇱 | 🔥 | 🟨 | 🔁 |

MANAGER

Brendan Rodgers | 🇬🇧 |

2509-2.png

Leicester City

GK Kasper Schmeichel | 🇩🇰 |
LB Ben Chilwell | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
LB Christian Fuchs | 🇦🇹 |
CB Çağlar Söyüncü | 🇹🇷 |
CB Jonny Evans | 🇬🇧 |
RB Ricardo Pereira | 🇵🇹 |
M James Maddison | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Dennis Praet | 🇧🇪 | 🔁 |
W Youri Tielemans | 🇧🇪 | 🔁 |
CF Jamie Vardy | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🟨 |
F Ayoze Pérez | 🇪🇸 | 🔁 |

SUBSTITUTES

Villa.gif

🔁 M Conor Hourihane | 🇮🇪 | for W Trézéguet | 🇪🇬 | 67' |
🔁 W Indiana Vassilev | 🇺🇸 | for W Anwar El Ghazi | 🇳🇱 | 74' |
🔁 M Henri Lansbury | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | for M Marvelous Nakamba | 🇿🇼 | 85' |

SUBSTITUTES

2509-2.png

🔁 | M Hamza Choudhury | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | for M Dennis Praet | 🇧🇪 | 46’ |
🔁 | CF Kelechi Iheanacho | 🇳🇬 | ⚽ | for F Ayoze Pérez | 🇪🇸 | 69’ |
🔁 | W Marc Albrighton (ex) | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | for W Youri Tielemans | 🇧🇪 | 79’ |

UNUSED SUBSTITUTES

Villa.gif

GK Lovre Kalinić | 🇭🇷 |
RB Ahmed Elmohamady | 🇪🇬 |
CB James Chester | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 |
W Jota | 🇪🇸 |

UNUSED SUBSTITUTES

2509-2.png

GK Danny Ward | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 |
RB James Justin | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CB Filip Benkovic | 🇭🇷 |
W Harvey Barnes | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |

SQUAD STATS

Villa.gif

1st XI Cost: £85.49m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 5/11
Homegrown: 1/11
Subs Cost: £6.21m
Team Cost: £91.70m
Squad Cost: £110.51m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 7/18
Homegrown: 1/18

SQUAD STATS

2509-2.png

1st XI Cost: £153.17m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 4/11
Homegrown: 1/11
Subs Cost: £24.93m
Team Cost: £178.10m
Squad Cost: £208.89m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 9/18
Homegrown: 3/18

MATCHDAY SQUAD

Villa.gif

GK Lovre Kalinić | 🇭🇷 | £5.40m |
GK Ørjan Nyland | 🇳🇴 | £2.70m |

RB Frédéric Guilbert | 🇫🇷 | £4.50m |
RB Ahmed Elmohamady | 🇪🇬 | 0.99m |
LB Neil Taylor | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | Exchange |

CB Tyrone Mings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £20.60m |
CB Ezri Konsa | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £11.97m |
CB James Chester | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | £8.37m |
CB Kortney Hause | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £2.70m |

M Douglas Luiz | 🇧🇷 | £15.12m |
M Marvelous Nakamba | 🇿🇼 | £10.80m |
M Conor Hourihane | 🇮🇪 | £3.15m |
M Henri Lansbury | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £3.06m |
M Jack Grealish | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |

W Trézéguet | 🇪🇬 | £9.00m |
W Anwar El Ghazi | 🇳🇱 | £8.10m |
W Jota | 🇪🇸 | £4.05m |
W Indiana Vassilev | 🇺🇸 | Free |

MATCHDAY SQUAD

2509-2.png

GK Danny Ward | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | £12.60m |
GK Kasper Schmeichel | 🇩🇰 | £1.51m |

RB Ricardo Pereira | 🇵🇹 | £19.80m |
RB James Justin | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £5.75m |
LB Ben Chilwell | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |
LB Christian Fuchs | 🇦🇹 | Free |

CB Caglar Söyüncü | 🇹🇷 | £18.99m |
CB Filip Benkovic | 🇭🇷 | £12.44m |
CB Jonny Evans | 🇬🇧 | £3.60m |


M Youri Tielemans | 🇧🇪 | £40.50m |
M James Maddison | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £22.50m |
M Dennis Praet | 🇧🇪 | £16.48m |
M Hamza Choudhury | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |

W Harvey Barnes | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |
W Marc Albrighton (ex) | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |

F Ayoze Pérez | 🇪🇸 | £28.67m |
CF Kelechi Iheanacho | 🇳🇬 | £24.93m |
CF Jamie Vardy | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £1.12m |

UNAVAILABLE

Villa.gif

Injury | 7 |
CF Keinan Davis | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Hamstring
GK Jed Steer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Hamstring
M John McGinn | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | Ankle
LB Matt Targett | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Hamstring
GK Tom Heaton | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Knee, ACL
CF Wesley | 🇧🇷 | Knee, ACL
CF Jonathan Kodjia | 🇨🇮 | Illness

Out on Loan | 6 |
RB James Bree | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Luton
M Jake Doyle-Hayes | 🇮🇪 | Cheltenham
W André Green | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Charlton
CF Rushian Hepburn-Murphy | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Derby
CF Scott Hogan | 🇮🇪 | Stoke
F Callum O’Hare | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Coventry

Not Selected | 1 |
CB Björn Engels | 🇧🇪 |

UNAVAILABLE

Villa.gif

Not Recorded

Player Positions:

​

GK : Goalkeeper
CB, D, B : Centre Back, Defender, Back
FB, LB, RB, WH : Full Back, Left Back, Right Back, Wing Back, Wing Half


M, CH, LH, RH : Midfielder, Centre Half, Left Half, Right Half
W, OL, OR : Winger, Outside Left, Outside Right
F, IF, IL, IR : Forward, Inside Forward, Inside Left, Inside Right, Second Striker, False 9
CF : Centre Forward

​

Match Symbols:

​

⚽ | Goal
🔥 | Assist
🔁 | Substitution

🟨 | Booking

🟥 | Sending off

🆘 | Poor refereeing performance
🟢 : Debut 🔴 : Final Game

DEBUT APPEARANCES

FINAL APPEARANCES

MATCH STATS

Possession F | 30%
Possession A | 70%
Shots F | 3
Shots A | 21
Shots on Target F | 1
Shots on Target A | 6
Corners F | 0
Corners A | 11
Fouls F | 13
Fouls A | 16

MATCH QUOTES

*Villa boss Dean Smith* “It should be a good second leg, all square and a boisterous crowd, a full house. “It wasn’t the performance I wanted, Leicester were the better team but we defended well at times. We have to be honest, they created chances as well. We were loose on the ball tonight, we’ve got to do better. “I’m certainly content with a draw, just not the performance. We gave away a farcical goal. Ezri Konsa has got brain dazzled. A disappointing goal but it sums up some of our performance on the night. We did get in a lot of tackles and blocks.” *Villa defender Tyrone Mings* “We are disappointed not to walk away with a clean sheet in the end but they are a very good team. It was a good team performance, we’ll take it. “Most goals are preventable. They scored four against us at Villa Park so this was important for our confidence. We laid good foundations and were good defensively. “It was a good day at the office. We had no striker which was tough but we did a good job.” *Villa goalkeeper Ørjan Nyland* “We fought well, it’s two legs so we take this back to Villa Park and hopefully can get to the final. I was quite busy but we get away with one goal. “I have to take the chance I have now, I know how it’s like to be injured. I’m gutted for Tom Heaton but that’s how it is.”

MATCH REPORT

*BBC Sport*
*Wednesday, 8 January 2020*

Kelechi Iheanacho’s equaliser gave Leicester City a deserved draw to leave the Carabao Cup semi-final against Aston Villa delicately poised after an entertaining encounter at the King Power Stadium. Substitute Iheanacho finished emphatically from Jamie Vardy’s pass with 16 minutes left to give The Foxes the reward their incessant second-half pressure merited to set up a tense second leg at Villa Park. Villa, struggling with injuries after goalkeeper Tom Heaton and striker Wesley were ruled out for the season, defended with organisation and resilience to protect the lead given to them after 28 minutes when Frederic Guilbert stole in at the far post to meet Anwar El Ghazi’s cross. Ezri Konsa’s header also struck the bar for Villa but Leicester applied most of the pressure with keeper Orjan Nyland saving twice from James Maddison and Vardy, who also shot just wide late on, before he was beaten by Iheanacho’s powerful strike from 12 yards. The second leg at Villa Park takes place on Tuesday, 28 January. Grealish shines in front of Southgate England manager Gareth Southgate was in the stands at The King Power Stadium to cast his eye over several players as he finalises his Euro 2020 plans. Villa defender Tyrone Mings and Leicester pair James Maddison and Ben Chilwell have already won full caps - so Southgate will have been paying particular attention to Jack Grealish, who has been a key figure for Dean Smith’s side this season. Grealish is yet to make the breakthrough to full England status and his midfield battle with Maddison, who is yet to fully convince Southgate, was an intriguing sub-plot to this semi-final. And the Villa captain did not disappoint, surely pressing his claims for inclusion in England’s squad and the opportunity to put himself in contention for this summer’s Euros. Villa spent much of the game on the back foot but Grealish was composed and strong on the ball when he got the chance, always looking for the chance to play the decisive pass on the rare occasions they were able to build pressure. Maddison is currently ahead of Grealish in Southgate’s pecking order, but this classy display from the 24-year-old will have given Southgate food for thought as Villa set up a platform to give themselves a real chance of reaching the EFL Cup Final against either Manchester City or Manchester United. Leicester City were not quite at their fluent best that has taken them into second place in the Premier League, forcing their way between runaway leaders Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester City. And yet, despite this, the Foxes showed real determination and patience to maintain the pressure until marksman Vardy turned creator with an astute pass that released Iheanacho for his late leveller. There were occasions when the home crowd, largely supportive, became impatient as Leicester probed but they stayed true to the principles of manager Brendan Rodgers and no-one apart from Villa could complain about their equaliser. Rodgers would have wanted victory from this home leg but he looked satisfied at the final whistle, clearly believing this is a result Leicester City can work with at Villa Park, where their pace and power on the break - spearheaded by Vardy - may be an even bigger weapon than it was here, as it was in their recent 4-1 league victory. Man of the match - Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) Aston Villa manager Dean Smith on Sky Sports: “It should be a good second leg, all square and a boisterous crowd, a full house. “It wasn’t the performance I wanted, Leicester were the better team but we defended well at times. We have to be honest, they created chances as well. We were loose on the ball tonight, we’ve got to do better. “I’m certainly content with a draw, just not the performance. We gave away a farcical goal. Ezri Konsa has got brain dazzled. A disappointing goal but it sums up some of our performance on the night. We did get in a lot of tackles and blocks.” Villa defender Tyrone Mings: “We are disappointed not to walk away with a clean sheet in the end but they are a very good team. It was a good team performance, we’ll take it. “Most goals are preventable. They scored four against us at Villa Park so this was important for our confidence. We laid good foundations and were good defensively. “It was a good day at the office. We had no striker which was tough but we did a good job.” Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland on Sky Sports: “We fought well, it’s two legs so we take this back to Villa Park and hopefully can get to the final. I was quite busy but we get away with one goal. “I have to take the chance I have now, I know how it’s like to be injured. I’m gutted for Tom Heaton but that’s how it is.” --- *The Guardian* *Wednesday, 8 January 2020* Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho rescues draw in face of defiant Aston Villa Brendan Rodgers warned that his evolving side would not get anywhere without learning how to suffer. Aston Villa put them to the test here, as they defied the form book and a spate of injuries to inflict serious hardship on their hosts. For a long time it even looked like Frédéric Guilbert’s goal would give Villa a lead to take into the second leg in three weeks. But Kelechi Iheanacho came off the bench to plunder the goal that leaves this semi-final intriguingly poised. Thirty-two miles separate the homes of these clubs but a giant gap has been apparent between the teams this season, a fact that Leicester had rubbed in Villa’s faces with a snazzy 4-1 victory at their place in the Premier League last month. Nine Leicester players who began that match were included in the starting lineup here, with Jamie Vardy returning to action for the first time since Boxing Day. It would probably have been 10 if Wilfred Ndidi had not suffered an injury in training on Tuesday. Villa, then, knew this was the moment where their Carabao Cup run got real: their three previous rounds had been against the reserves sides of Brighton, Wolves and Liverpool. Their side had a depleted look here but that was not down to managerial policy. Dean Smith sent out the best team he had available and their mission was to prove that despite the losses to injury of Tom Heaton, John McGinn and Wesley it was not weaker than the one that was outplayed at the beginning of December. That task was further complicated by the absence of Jonathan Kodjia, who had been Villa’s only fit senior striker until he fell ill on the eve of the match. Smith deployed Anwar El Ghazi at centre-forward while sticking with the back-three formation that he has introduced in recent weeks partly because of the vulnerabilities exposed by Leicester and partly because of injuries. Anticipating his opponent’s strategy, Rodgers also switched to a back three, assigning Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell wing-back roles that would, in theory, enable them to maraud forward even more than usual. Ayoze Pérez, meanwhile, operated alongside Vardy. Villa’s plan worked better early on. They were solid, denying Leicester space in which to conjure. Leicester took a while to find their rhythm and misplaced many passes. It took them 13 minutes to pick a way through the visitors, with Pérez playing a snappy one-two with Dennis Praet before firing just wide from 15 yards. Leicester grew more fluent after that and things got a little dicey for Villa. Before the 20th minute James Maddison had a shot blocked at the edge of the area; Jonny Evans flicked a header over from a free kick; and Vardy blasted into the side-netting after bursting into the right of the box. In the 22nd minute Vardy, dashing into the left of the box this time, should have opened the scoring after a dainty through-ball by Pérez. But Orjan Nyland rushed out to narrow the angle and stood up strong to the striker’s shot. Leicester were still not at their best but a breakthrough for them was starting to look imminent and then Villa detonated a shock with their first attack. El Ghazi, having moved out to the left so that Jack Grealish could take a turn as a centre-forward, curled the ball across the face of goal and Guilbert surprised Chilwell at the back post by darting in front of him to stab the ball into the net. Now Leicester faced the sort of test that they must learn to overcome if they are to fulfil their big ambitions. But they lapsed into confusion and raggedness. Vardy’s booking for catching Ezri Konsa late was symptomatic of their impotence. Konsa nearly punished them further when he outjumped Kasper Schmeichel to meet a free kick from the left. Luckily for Leicester, he headed against the crossbar, allowing Leicester to reach half-time only a goal down. With Praet unable to fill the Ndidi-shaped void in midfield, Rodgers replaced the Belgian with Hamza Choudhury for the second half. The newcomer added more steel but Leicester still had to summon more fluency and ingenuity to unlock. When they did create openings, they would have to show more composure than Youri Tielemans in the 53rd minute when he wafted a shot wide after a slick exchange with Maddison. Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause were outstanding in the heart of Villa’s defence, ensuring Nyland was not as busy as Leicester’s possession suggested he should have been. But the keeper had to make a couple of fine saves to foil Maddison. He was helpless in the 75th minute, though, when Iheanacho, just after replacing Pérez, rammed a shot past him from 16 yards. The chance came from strong play from Leicster’s other substitute, as Choudhury dispossessed Douglas Luiz near halfway. Vardy had a chance to fire Leicester in front through a late counterattack but shot just wide --- *The Guardian* *Wednesday, 8 January 2020* Jack Grealish’s poise and panache leave Villa dreaming of Wembley by Sachin Nakrani at the King Power Stadium for the Guardian The midfielder delivered a mature performance in the 1-1 draw with Leicester, in front of the watching Gareth Southgate So then, just who exactly will face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final this year? On a chilly, wet and fervent east Midlands night came a semi-final first leg that proved much more even and intriguingly poised than the one that came before it. If what took place at Old Trafford was a procession bordering on a humiliation, this encounter at the King Power was a genuine contest, and while Leicester remain favourites to reach Wembley, Aston Villa can take great heart from how they performed and will believe they can make the return fixture on their own patch one to remember. Dean Smith certainly believes Villa remain alive in this tie, speaking afterwards of how his players can “take a lot of confidence and belief” from their display against a side that, it should be remembered, beat them 4-1 a month ago. Villa were ripped apart that day and while there were moments here when they looked incredibly vulnerable, especially during the second half as Leicester performed with renewed pace and intent in pursuit of a goal to cancel out Frédéric Guilbert’s first-half strike, the men in claret and blue stood firm. Their back three of Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause were especially good while in goal Orjan Nyland made a number of crucial saves before finding himself helpless to keep out Kelechi Iheanacho’s powerfully-hit equaliser on 74 minutes. Nyland was making his second appearance in succession and more will follow for the Norwegian given he now finds himself as Villa’s first-choice goalkeeper following the anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained by Tom Heaton in the New Year’s Day victory over Burnley and which has ruled out the 33-year-old for the rest of the season. Wesley, the club’s £22m record signing, is out for the same amount of time having sustained the same injury in the same game, and that, combined with the pre-match illness picked up by Jonathan Kodjia here led to Villa lining up without a recognised striker. Anwar El Ghazi was forced into operating as a false No 9 and in doing the job diligently, which included delivering the cross that led to Guilbert’s goal, he symbolised the noble effort to the cause delivered by a weakened, patched-up side. Little wonder Smith was so proud of his team, with the manager’s only complaint being the “farcical” nature with which they conceded given it resulted from Konsa and Douglas Luiz making a mess between them of what should have been a straightforward free-kick for Villa. For all those concerned with Smith’s side, the hope will be that this performance had not only presented them with a decent chance of reaching a first major final in five years but also fuelled the players with the belief that they can escape relegation trouble. They currently sit 17th, a point clear of danger, and with a game against City next up. The outlook is not great and has come about from what has been a chastening return to the top flight for a grand old name of English football. Way too many goals conceded, not enough scored – a toxic combination that appeared to be overwhelming Villa as they went on a run of four successive league defeats prior to Christmas. But since then there have been wins against Norwich and Burnley, and now this; a draw away to the second best team in the country. Villa may be lacking players but they are not lacking in an upturn. Absolutely crucial to Villa’s survival hopes is Jack Grealish. The 24-year-old has been the team’s outstanding performer this season and yet again he delivered a display here full of poise and panache. There were no particularly eye-catching moments, and he may ultimately have come second to James Maddison in the battle of the best young English creative talent on display in front of the watching Gareth Southgate, but there was still much to enjoy and, from a Villa point of view, appreciate. Stationed in his usual advanced left position, Grealish did his bit defensively and helped relieve the pressure on the visitors by carrying the ball in his trademark manner; loose and easy yet full of purpose. Indeed it was from one such run that Villa took the lead, as Grealish manoeuvred down the right, switched play and watched on as El Ghazi and Guilbert combined to devastating effect. “It was a great, mature performance,” said Smith of his No 10. “He carried the ball so well and when we were rushed he was the one that showed composure. That is what Jack brings to us – he’s a top player.” Of that there is no doubt and it could well be Grealish who ultimately makes the difference when these sides meet again in three weeks’ time. As Brendan Rodgers said, this tie is “perfectly set-up”, and for Villa during a season of great strain and difficulty there remains the very real prospect of a ninth League Cup final appearance. Game on.

All Videos