Aston Villa have progressed to the round of 16 of the Carabao Cup, beating Bristol City thanks to goals from Anwar El Ghazi, Bertrand Traoré and Ollie Watkins.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Carabao Cup finalists from last year, Aston Villa travelled to Ashton Gate – fresh off the back of an opening Premier League win – to face Bristol City.
The line-up announcement sprung only one real surprise – with captain Ahmed Elmohamady playing at central defence rather than his usual full-back role.
The Villans, in their newly-announced third kit for the first time this summer, started the game the brighter of the two sides, with Frederic Guilbert having a shot blocked within the opening thirty seconds – before Dean Smith’s men won a corner that amounted to little.
Smart work on the right hand side from debutant Bertrand Traoré resulted in Max O’Leary being forced into a strong save from Keinan Davis who fired towards the bottom right. The ‘keeper kicked the ball into the path of Anwar El ghazi, who’s shot was parried.
In the 11th minute, Keinan Davis worked his way from the edge of the box all the way to the line, before shuffling onto his weak foot and squaring it centrally for Anwar El Ghazi – who was able to pass the ball into the back of the net.
Just two minutes later, and Jacob Ramsey was the architect of a second Aston Villa goal. The youngster played a lobbed ball towards the back post, where Bertrand Traoré ran to cushion a volley towards the far post, leaving O’Leary rooted.
The following twenty or so minutes died down a little – Aston Villa remained in control but struggled to test the Bristol goalkeeper.
Keinan Davis had a strong opportunity a minute before half-time as he turned away from his man before firing a strong left-footed shot towards goal which forced O’Leary into parrying the ball over the bar.
Dean Smith’s side did not look as energetic in their press, or as willing to attack in the opening eight minutes of the second half – with Bristol City creating moments of danger but struggling to make anything from them.
The 56th minute saw Bertrand Traoré cut into a central position with the ball, before he rolled through a pass with pin-point precision for Anwar El Ghazi to run on to – but the Dutchman fired the ball well over O’Leary’s bar.
El Ghazi had another opportunity in the 67th minute, with a ball over the top finding the winger with only the ‘keeper to beat, but he fired directly at the goalkeeper who rushed out to block with his feet.
The 70th minute saw Ollie Watkins and Trezeguet join the fray, replacing goalscorer Bertrand Traoré and Keinan Davis, who set up the first goal.
The two substitutes came up with the third goal of the tie just two minutes later, as Watkins took his first touch of the ball – playing a pass which eventually found it’s way to Trezeguet, before the Egyptian crossed to the far post where the record-signing’s run would meet it. Watkins side-footed the ball into the new calmly.
Watkins forced O’Leary into a strong save shortly after as the forward produced a fierce hit following a period of dribbling to make space in the box, shooting hard into the top right and making the Bristol ‘keeper stretch to parry it.
With thirteen minutes remaining, Conor Hourihane replaced Henri Lansbury.
Watkins was denied again as time ticked closer to the 90 minute mark, attempting to poke an off-balance shot over O’Leary – but the goalkeeper was wise to it. Jacob Ramsey was unlucky shortly after, as Trezeguet found the youngster free with a pass, but his shot was directly at the goalkeeper.
Aston Villa couldn’t go all the way again… could they?
Traore’s debut goal can be viewed here: