Two wonderstrikes mean that Aston Villa bow out of the FA Cup to Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled to Craven Cottage on a brisk Saturday afternoon for the third round proper of the FA Cup, with a much rotated side – including youngsters Jacob Ramsey and Indiana Vassilev on the bench.
Marvelous Nakamba picked up a yellow card in the fifth minute of the game as an over-hit pass from Nyland forced a fifty-fifty challenge between the Zimbabwean and Joe Bryan.
Jonathan Kodjia looked like he was through on goal in the 13th minute, but was called offside before he jokingly did a few step-overs in the face of the Fulham ‘keeper and poked the ball into the net.
Neither side looked like they were truly interested in the opening 35 minutes, with passes going awry for both sides and a number of players.
Jota had a rare chance on the cusp of the half-time whistle as he chested the ball down and volleyed it just wide of the post.
Anwar El Ghazi registered the first shot on target in 45 minutes of football directly before the whistle, forcing a strong save out of Joe Rodak.
Fulham’s McDonald picked up a yellow card in the opening three minutes of the second half for catching Henri Lansbury with a flailing hand.
Anthony Knockaert opened the scoring in the game with a sublime curling finish from outside of the box following a Fulham counter-attack as Anwar El Ghazi was dispossessed in the opposition box. Orjan Nyland was at full stretch to try and save, but couldn’t quite get there.
Directly after, Orjan Nyland produced an excellent save to deny Bryan the opportunity to double the lead with a half-volley, before Bjorn Engels turned the ball off the line after the follow up from Cyrus Christie.
Aston Villa equalised just after the hour mark, as Jota played a teasing ball over the Fulham defence, allowing Kodjia to break and lob the keeper – with the ball going into the net regardless – but El Ghazi tapped home from a few yards out just to ensure the ball found its way home.
Jota forced Rodak into a strong save with a curling effort directly after as Aston Villa found their foothold in the game.
Fulham’s McDonald was replaced by Harry Arter in the 72nd minute.
Moments later, Arter pulled out an absolute beauty of a strike that dipped just under the crossbar to nestle into the net past Orjan Nyland.
The 75th minute saw Trezeguet come onto the pitch, replacing Jota, in Dean Smith’s first change of the afternoon.
The second change saw young American Indiana Vassilev making his senior debut, replacing Marvelous Nakamba in the 80th minute. Villa’s final change came in the form of Jacob Ramsey replacing Anwar El Ghazi five minutes before time.
Aston Villa bow out of the FA Cup in the third round – a blessing in disguise, perhaps?