A young Aston Villa side took European Champions Chelsea to penalties this evening, before losing 4-3 in the shootout.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled to Stamford Bridge once again this evening, this time to face off against the European Champions in the Carabao Cup. Dean Smith shuffled his pack a little, allowing Emiliano Buendia, Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi some needed game time. Cameron Archer, the hat-trick hero from the last round against Barrow, would lead the line once more in this round – while Ashley Young captained the Villans.
The first real chance of the game went Aston Villa’s way, as Buendia found Morgan Sanson racing into the opposition half, before the Frenchman played Cameron Archer through on goal. Archer, who had curved his run to stay onside, found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but his lobbed effort over the onrushing Kepa was fired over the bar.
While the game lulled for a while for Aston Villa, as they struggled to string passes together against Chelsea’s aggressive press and possession, the fans rejoiced with a little fun just after the 20 minute, re-igniting an old favourite by singing about “Matty Cash, The Polish Cafu”.
There was another chance for Aston Villa just before half an hour had passed – with a short free-kick routine freeing Anwar El Ghazi down the left. His cross put Chelsea under pressure and Ben Chilwell almost slid the ball into his own net.
Debutant Malang Sarr was booked in the 31st minute as he bundled Bertrand Traore to the floor, and not for the first time.
Ziyech was the first Chelsea player to test Jed Steer in the Aston Villa net – albeit from range – with the goalkeeper able to collect with ease.
In the 40th, Morgan Sanson looked visibly distressed as he lay on the floor, looking like he may have picked up an injury, Dean Smith opted to make a change rather than risk the midfielder any further, as the French midfielder was replaced by Carney Chukwuemeka.
As the game trickled towards the end of the half, Cameron Archer had another opportunity as he found himself one-on-one once more. His shot was fired into the chest of Kepa, before El Ghazi’s follow up was cleared off the line by Reece James. Traore tested Kepa with a weak, low shot half a minute later.
Both sides went in at the break level, with Aston Villa having the better chances.
Chelsea opted to make a half-time change as the game restarted, replacing N’Golo Kante with Mason Mount.
Jed Steer was tested in the first few minutes of the half, with Callum Hudson-Odoi wriggling his way into the box, before shooting from a tight angle. Steer managed to get a hand to the ball before collecting well.
In the 54th minute, Timo Werner gave Chelsea the lead. Reece James crossed from a relatively deep position, before the German forward snuck between Tuanzebe and Cash to head past the outstretched Jed Steer. Shortly after, Steer was forced into a sublime low save to deny a dipping shot from Ziyech.
Ten minutes later, and Aston Villa found themselves level – with almost a carbon copy of Werner’s goal. Matty Cash curled in a cross from a deep position, with Archer sneaking between defenders and rising high to meet the ball. His header crashed off the bar and into the back of the net. Jaden Philogene-Bidace would replace Bertrand Traore shortly after.
Mason Mount almost put the home side back ahead a few minutes later as the ball fell to him in front of goal, but the Chelsea midfielder fired his effort wide. A few minutes after that, and Emiliano Buendia fired over the bar from ten yards out for Aston Villa.
In the 76th minute, Chelsea made a double change – replacing Saul and Hakim Ziyech with Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku – a major compliment to Aston Villa’s young side. Aston Villa responded immediately, moving to a back three by replacing Matty Cash – who was having an excellent game – with Ezri Konsa.
Jed Steer was called into action again almost ten minutes from full time, palming an effort over the bar from Mason Mount.
The first half of the final ten minutes were very much all Chelsea, with the home side piling on the pressure. Aston Villa were doing well to clear their lines, again and again. Ashley Young was booked for a challenge on Callum Hudson-Odoi in the 86th minute.
Jaden Philogene-Bidace required treatment after a recovery tackle from Ross Barkley left the winger downed. By the time play resumed, there were five minutes of added time. After the added time, and prolonged Chelsea pressure, the tie would go to penalties.
Penalties: ❌ (Missed/Saved) ✔️ (Scored) || CHE (Chelsea), AVL (Aston Villa)
AVL, El Ghazi ✔️
CHE, Lukaku ✔️
AVL, Young ❌
CHE, Mount ✔️
AVL, Nakamba ❌
CHE, Barkley ✔️
AVL, Konsa ✔️
CHE, Chilwell ❌
AVL, Buendia ✔️
CHE, James ✔️
The shootout went to the final shot of the ten, but to no avail for Aston Villa.