Villa score late to stun Leicester
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP):
Trezeguet punched the air with both fists and roared with joy as he swayed above a sea of jubilant Aston Villa supporters.
Six months into his time at Villa Park, the Egypt midfielder made himself a firm fans’ favourite by sending the club into a cup final at Wembley Stadium yesterday.
Trezeguet scored with a far-post volley in the third minute of stoppage time to earn Villa a 2-1 win over Leicester and a title match in the English League Cup against either Manchester City or Manchester United on March 1. Villa won 3-2 on aggregate.
Having recently seen their team drop into the Premier League’s relegation zone, Villa’s fans savoured a rare moment of celebration this season by swarming on to the field after the final whistle.
Naturally, Trezeguet was one of the prime targets of their affection, and he was hoisted on to some supporters’ shoulders.
“We fight until the end,” said the midfielder, who only came on in the 77th minute of a match Leicester dominated – like it did in the first leg that finished 1-1 three weeks ago.
Indeed, Villa advanced having had four shots on target – and scoring from three of them – across the two legs of the semi-final.
The team from central England will look to win the League Cup for a sixth time, and for a first time since 1996. Villa was in the competition’s first final and will now play in its 60th.
“It shows what character we’ve got in the team,” said Villa captain Jack Grealish. “We were in a sticky patch before Christmas – we couldn’t string four passes together, never mind winning (a match).”
Villa’s players were thrashed 6-1 by Man City in the league on January 12, four days after somehow holding Leicester to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the semifinal. They are unbeaten in three games since, winning two of them, and a run to the League Cup final might inspire confidence that they can preserve their top-flight status.
City are likely to be Villa’s opponents at Wembley, with the defending champions holding a 3-1 lead from the first leg at United’s Old Trafford. The second leg is on today.