A controversial second goal for Manchester City leaves Aston Villa heartbroken in the Carabao Cup Final.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa returned to Wembley on a sunny March Sunday this afternoon, to battle Manchester City for the Carabao Cup.
Anwar El Ghazi had a chance to give Aston Villa the lead in the opening three minutes as Fernandinho failed to clear his lines, with the ball falling to Elmohamady who curled towards the far post where El Ghazi waited to head just over the bar.
As expected the tides turned into the favour of Manchester City, who enjoyed long periods of possession for the next ten minutes – but struggled to break down Aston Villa’s defensive shape.
Manchester City took the lead just after the 20th minute as Rodri swung a ball into the right hand side of Aston Villa’s box which found Phil Foden – with Matt Targett out of position – who played the ball centrally for Aguero to poke towards goal. The ball ricocheted off the underneath of Mings’ thigh, wrong-footing Nyland as the ball bounced into the net.
Rodri was involved for Manchester City’s second too, who found himself open in the box as a corner swung in – with Nyland helpless to stop a strong header. There are questions raised in regards to the officiating and VAR, with the corner given when it should have been a goal kick.
Aston Villa struggled with the switch of play from City, with Targett and Guilbert finding issues with the stretching of their formation – allowing Foden and Sterling relative freedom on the wings.
Mbwana Samatta was the difference in the first half for Aston Villa as he brought Aston Villa back within a goal of Manchester City. John Stones was at fault, slipping and letting Anwar El Ghazi rush forward, before he crossed into a central position for Samatta’s bullet header which left Bravo dumbfounded.
The second half was very much a muchness for the opening ten minutes, with the biggest highlight a Raheem Sterling booking after a poor challenge on Frederic Guilbert – after some earlier issues between the two.
Kevin De Bruyne entered the fray in the 58th minute, replacing Ilkay Gundogan.
Rodri was booked for stopping Douglas Luiz from starting a counter in the 60th minute.
Ahmed Elmohamady was booked for a poor challenge on David Silva in the 68th minute. Shortly after Conor Hourihane and Trezeguet came onto the pitch to replace Ahmed Elmohamady and Anwar El Ghazi.
Marvelous Nakamba was booked for a challenge on Sergio Aguero – with the midfielder winning the ball but cleaning out the man.
Orjan Nyland was forced into a strong save in the 73rd minute to deny Rodri a second goal, palming the ball around the post. The 75th saw Bernardo Silva replace David Silva.
The final eleven minutes saw Keinan David replace Mbwana Samatta. In the 82nd, Aguero was replaced by Gabriel Jesus.
Bjorn Engels very nearly equalised for Aston Villa with a strong header that forced Claudio Bravo into an exceptional save in the 88th minute, as the keeper palmed the ball onto the post.
Orjan Nyland was forced into a strong save himself in the 89th from Bernardo Silva just inside the box.
There were five added minutes at the end of the 90. Tyrone Mings was booked in the second of which for standing strong as De Bruyne tried to play the ball past him.
Aston Villa threw everything at Manchester City in the dying embers of the game – but it was not enough.