To go by the name of Trezeguet in elite-level football suggests one might be capable of deciding big games in the final moments and so, when it mattered most, Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan, Egypt international and the second most famous Trezeguet in the game delivered for Aston Villa.
A winner in time added on at the end of the game took Villa to the League Cup final, their first since 2010, and precipitated a full-scale pitch invasion of the kind that you do not see when the Premier League’s super-clubs achieve the same. It was Villa’s substitute Trezeguet, named after France’s David, scorer of the Euro 2000 final golden goal winner for his country, who came up with the moment that divided these two sides in a splendid Cup tie.
It looked like it was heading for a penalty shoot-out when another substitute, Ahmed El Mohamady struck a nice cross with his right foot to the back post where Trezeguet, a late replacement for Anwar El Ghazi, had gambled on running. For Villa, it was pure joy, their first domestic cup final – the play-offs notwithstanding – since they went to the FA Cup final in 2015 and were beaten 4-0 by Arsenal.
Dean Smith’s side have struggled in the Premier League this season and they had less of the ball against Leicester but despite that it was their spirit that carried them home, as well as some excellent moments from captain Jack Grealish who created the first goal for Matt Targett. Leicester came back in the second half with a Kelechi Iheanacho equaliser but they never got into their rhythm and paid the price.
At the end there was one brief scuffle as substitute Jamie Vardy and his team-mate James Maddison were confronted on the pitch by Villa fans. Leicester may also wonder why the video assistant referee missed a handball by Marvellous Nakamba.
For much of the first half it was hard to recognise the Leicester who had briefly been the second best team in the Premier League on that fine run from mid-October to the start of December - for all the good saves that the Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland made. Rodgers’ team appeared to change their formation early in the game and even after that they struggled to break down their opposition.
There was no Jamie Vardy in the starting XI, he was on the bench, and the team lined up with a three-man backline including Ben Chilwell on the left side. They tested Villa in the opening stages but the home side settled early and once they had scored on 12 minutes, their control of the game was much better.
For the more difficult moments they had their Norway international goalkeeper Nyland to thank. The 29-year-old has stepped in since Tom Heaton’s knee injury on New Year’s Day and now he will have to get past Pepe Reina, signed on loan until the end of the season, but suffering from a calf injury and watching the semi-final from the stands. Nyland got his body behind an early hit from Kelechi Iheanacho and the Norwegian’s performance got better from there.
There were two similar saves from James Maddison, both of which saw Nyland get down low to his left and brush the ball wide of the post. The best of them all was a full-spring, full-stretch, touch of the glove from a clean hit that came from the right boot of Youri Tielemans. Nyland got enough on it to redirect the ball against the bar before it came bouncing back out. When it was replayed in full on the Villa Park screens there was a gasp of admiration and a round of applause for the second time.
A battle between the two side’s young English No10s, Maddison and his opposite number in the Villa captain’s armband, Jack Grealish. Maddison got off those two shots but never quite opened up Villa from a central position just behind Iheanacho and Ayoze Perez. For Grealish it was different. He comes in and out the game on the left side of the attacking three but that right foot takes him past opponents so easily that each time he is in possession there are reasons for the home support to be hopeful.
He made the goal for Targett, taking the ball down the left and then doubling back with Leicester’s defenders unable to get around him. In Grealish’s peripheral vision he saw Targett overlap behind him and even though the Villa captain scuffed the flick into his team-mate’s path he got enough on it. Targett, on his stronger left foot, swept the ball past Kasper Schmeichel before he could react.
There was another tactical switch for Rodgers in the early part of the second half when the inevitable introduction of Vardy came, the goalscorer replacing Perez and playing alongside Iheanacho. Leicester went back to a more conventional back four but it was Villa who controlled the game in those early stages and Grealish who made the chance for the second goal.
His right-footed ball from the right was shaped in behind the Leicester defence and weighted perfectly for the run of Ally Samatta, the £10 million Tanzania international acquired from Genk this month and making his debut. He poked out a left boot without much conviction and before he knew it the ball was past him and the chance gone.
Samatta was already off the pitch when finally Leicester equalised, moving the ball quickly at last and delivering it finally from Harvey Barnes on the left to Iheanacho unmarked at the back post. It was the first time they had stretched the home defence out of shape since the early stages and the effect was immediate.
There was not quite the space in behind for Vardy to exploit although that was the ball that Leicester looked for time and again. At the other end, the Villa substitute Keinan Davis, playing for the first time since injury ruled him at the end of October, gave his side a sharpness they had lacked. The winner, however, was all about the run from Trezeguet who finished perfectly inside the far post of Kasper Schmeichel and Villa were through to Wembley.
Match details and marks
Aston Villa (3-4-3) Nyland 8; Konsa 7, Mings 7, Hause 7; Guilbert 6 (Elmohamady, 84), Luiz 6, Nakamba 7, Targett 7; El Ghazi 6 (Trezeguet, 77), Samatta 5 (Davis, 67), Grealish 8.
Substitutes Sarkic, Chester, Lansbury, Hourihane. Booked Konsa, Luiz.
Leicester (3-4-1-2) Schmeichel 6; Soyuncu 6, Evans 6, Chilwell 6; Ricardo 6, Ndidi 6, Tielemans 6, Barnes 6 (Gray, 86); Maddison 6; Iheanacho 6, Perez 5 (Vardy, 56).
Substitutes Ward, Justin, Benkovic, Praet, Albrighton. Booked Soyuncu.
Referee Mike Dean (Wirral)
It shows what character we’ve got in the team. This time last month we were in a sticky patch – we couldn’t string five passes together, never mind a win. It’s brilliant for the club: another trip to Wembley, and we’re looking forward to it.
Today I thought we were brilliant. I’m over the moon to be going back to Wembley.
Full time: Aston Villa 2 (3) Leicester City 1 (2)
Villa are Wembley bound, singing que sera sera as fans pour on to the pitch in their thousands. How fitting that on the League Cup final's diamond anniversary the first winners are in it.
And the FA has confirmed that Ezri Konsa's booking will not prohibit him from playing in the final.
Leicester created far more chances and should have had a penalty but were thwarted by the superb Nyland and some last-ditch defending. Grealish was outstanding and Targett deserves special praise, too.
90+6 min Aston Villa 2 (3) Leicester City 1 (2)
On we play, two minutes more than was signalled, and Leicester have a free-kick 25 yards out after a disputed push by Mings. Maddison fires it into the wall and the referee blows, sending Villa into the League Cup final.
90+4 min Aston Villa 2 (3) Leicester City 1 (2)
Leicester win a corner, Schmeichel goes up for it and Maddison aims for him. Villa head it out to Ricardo who is closed down by three Villa players and balloons a shot into the crowd.
90+3 min Aston Villa 2 (3) Leicester City 1 (2)
Brilliant, brilliant goal. Terrific deep cross from Elmohamady that was like a guided missile over 60 yards from the right and perfectly into the path of Trezeguet who crept round the back of Ricardo and steered it in with a very deft finish on the volley.
Aston Villa 2 (3) Leicester City 1 (2) (Trezeguet)
90+2 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
Maddison sticks his leg up high and it is kicked by Konsa's but it's the Leicester player, who was late, who is penalised.
90 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
Four minutes will be added on and Villa are creaking somewhat, desperate for the whistle now. They've run themselves into the ground and Leicester have dominated most of the last 30 minutes.
88 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
Mings concedes a corner, seemingly exhausted and unable to find the energy to whack it upfield. Maddison whips it in from the right with his right foot and Evans wins the header under duress but can't get enough purchase to divert it on goal, knocking it 2ft wide.
86 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
Ndidi scoops a long-range half volley into orbit. Demarai Gray, who was bouncing on the spot, waiting to replace Barnes for a couple of minutes before the winger set up the equaliser, eventually makes his entrance. And Barnes goes.
84 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
Third Villa substitution: Enter Elmohamady for Guilbert.
83 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
Trezeguet is played in by Davis's excellent pass from the centre that allows the winger to speed past Soyuncu from the left but he hits a milky pea-roller of a shot for Schmeichel to flop on top of and start a quick counter.
81 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
And Chilwell floats a cross in from the left that drops for Barnes to half-volley from eight-yards but he airkicks instead, Iheanacho gobbles up possession but his shot is blocked and Maddison is on to the rebound but scoops a right-footer over the bar.
79 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
Leicester corner earned by Maddison and taken by him but he hits it too long when his main tall runners were headed to the near post. Ricardo misjudged the ball back in but Villa can't clear.
77 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
Soyuncu is deservedly booked for a high challenge on Grealish. Aston Villa sub: Trezeguet for El Ghazi.
74 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
It was definitely a shot from Barnes. I'm sure of it. He hit it with such force that Iheanacho's finish had to be a perfect touch rather than a rudimentary tap-in.
73 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2)
Barnes beats Guilbert down the left and flashes over a shot that turns into a superb cross inadvertently and Iheanacho, yards onside despite Villa protests, stabs the ball home to level the tie.
Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 1 (2) (Iheanacho)
69 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Villa swing over a corner from the right and Konsa leaps at the back post to steer a header over from a tight angle. Leicester pour forward from the restart and Iheanacho pulls the ball back for Maddison to shoot from 12 yards at a 30 degree angle from the right post but he shanks it wide.
67 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Samatta's debut race has run. He's replaced by Davis. He looked sharp and industrious but really should have scored a couple of minutes before succumbing to cramp in his first game since Boxing Day.
65 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Brilliant pass from Grealis, arcing a right-footer from 30 yards between Evans and Soyuncu towards the six-yard box. Samatta hs made the perfect run and just needs a touch but he airkicks when he flicks his left boot at it and the ball scurries behind for a goalkick. It was on a plate.
63 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Grealish goes outside Targett and dinks the ball into the box to the wing-back and receives it back on the end of a one-two and spears a shot over the bar on the angle. Schmeichel takes a short goalkick that Samatta gets a toe to, Nakamba picks up and feeds Grealish to swing over a cross that Leicester knock behind with palpable relief.
60 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Iheanacho opens his body to sweep a left-foot shot ... straight down Nyland's throat. Douglas Luz kicks the ball away after fouling Maddison and joins Konsa in the negligent yellow card club.
58 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Leicester substitution: Vardy replaces Perez and Leicester go to 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield, Wilf at the base and Maddison up top.
57 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Konsa disputes the award of a throw-in to Leicester when Barnes had the last touch and he hurls the ball away in disgust, earning himself a yellow card that means he will miss the final, should Villa get there.
54 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Grealish spins between Soyuncu and Maddison - wiry and strong when he wants to be, delicate when it suits him better - and flashes a right-foot shot wide of the left post. His snake hips bought him that chance.
52 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Chilwell tackles Guilbert, using his arms as well as his feet and the Villa fns want a free-kick that isn't forthcoming. Ndidi tries to lace a curling pass from inside right through the middle for Iheanacho to chase but Mings again reads it and gets there first, possibly at the price of a muscle strain.
50 min: Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Villa, prone to conceding twice as many goals in the second half than the first, have re-started slowly.
48 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Mings stops Ricardo's cross from the right, knocking it out for a throw-in. Tielemans tries to pick out Barnes at the far post but the ball beats everyone in the area and skids out for a Villa throw parallel with the Leicester one that started the attack.
46 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
No personnel changes at half-time. Perez slides a pass from 30 yards out into the box, hoping that Iheanacho could blindside Mings from his left and nip in ahead of him. But the centre-back was aware of the centre-forward's movement and made sure he held him off.
Suggests Nakamba did handball Maddison's goalbound shot with his arms point upwards to block. Don't ask me why Mike Dean's original decision wasn't overturned.
Half-time Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Good game, good game, as Bruce Forsyth would say. Villa have been sensational on the break, Grealish and Targett cleverly isolating Ricardo and not only getting in behind him but sapping his attacking vitality because he's always having to look over his shoulder. Leicester have carved out four exceptionally good chances and Nyland has acrobatically saved three of them so hope springs for them. But they might need a change of formation or personnel - like the one halfway through the first leg that brought Choudhury on - to help turn the tide.
45+1 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Chilwell threads a pass up the inside left channel for Iheanacho but he cannot get a shot through Mings.
45 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Mings slices a left-foot pass intended for Douglas Luiz into touch.
43 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Soyuncu crucially heads a cross from El Ghazi destined for Grealish at the back post over the bar after a wayward pass from Maddison made a gift of the ball to Villa.
40 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Leicester can't push Villa's wing-backs back towards their own goal and are getting swamped down the right of their defence. It's a very good game and Leicester are far from out of it but their attempts to get Iheanacho behind Mings have come to naught since the first couple of minutes.
38 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
The link-up between Grealish and Targett carves open another chance, the captain overloading Ricardo with his left-wing back before playing Targett in down the line. He flays over another low cross and Samatta gets it stuck under his feet from six-yards.
35 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Maddison drives the rebound back towards goal and claims it struck a hand as it was deflected behind for a corner. VAR says it didn't. I'm not so sure.
33 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Long spell of possession from Leicester, alternating the tempo, suddenly burst towards the box with quick passes between Maddison and Tielemans. The latter harpoons a right-foot shot towards the top right corner from the left of the D and Nyland pulls off another sensational save, this time tipping it on to the bar with three fingers of his right hand.
30 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
El Ghazi, whose light is hidden under Grealish's bushel, runs out of space after a penetrative dribble up the right.
27 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Maddison strides into space after diddling Nakamba with a shimmy in the centre-circle. He dribbles 15 yards then spoons a right-foot hot wide of the right post.
24 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Ndidi catches Grealish on the underside of his boot and Villa have a free-kick. Within 60 seconds Samatta has the ball in the back of the net but Guilbert, picked out by a superb pass from Grealish, was needlessly offside before he squared it to the new signing.
21 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Chances at both ends - first for Grealish whose shot is blocked by Soyuncu, then for Ricardo who is following up down the right when it pinballs through the box to him 20 yards out. But he slices it wide, opting for power rather than the precision of his finish against West Ham.
19 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Terrific tackle from Guilbert stops Barnes getting a shot away from the left of the area and he recovers the rebound to spark a forward run that Leicester halt on halfway.
17 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
El Ghazi takes a Villa free-kick from 35 yards, left of centre. He aims for the top right corner and arcs it over the wall, calculating the dip almost perfectly but Schmeichel scrambled across his goalline and had it just about covered had it burrowed beneath the crossbar.
14 min Aston Villa 1 (2) Leicester City 0 (1)
Lovely control from Grealish to hold up the ball down the inside-left, turn inside to evade the tackle before rolling it to the left wing-back entering the box from the flank. Targett larrups a shot and though Schmeichel got a hand to it, the blistering force did for him. The keeper curses himself and the VAR check gives the goal the green light.
Aston Villa 1-0 Leicester (Targett)
11 min Aston Villa 0 (1) Leicester City 0 (1)
Perez tees himself up for a shot when Douglas Luiz gives the ball straight to him but he shanks it at Mings.
9 min Aston Villa 0 (1) Leicester City 0 (1)
Make that three shots from Maddsion, this one from 25 yards with his left foot, dragging it towards the bottom right corner and once again Nyland dives and, with his left arm at its full extent, manages to flick it round the post with the middle and ring fingers of his left hand.
7 min Aston Villa 0 (1) Leicester City 0 (1)
So much space - Maddison again finds room to fire a left-foot shot from the edge of the area that scuds wide.
5 min Aston Villa 0 (1) Leicester City 0 (1)
Very open game so far, Grealish playing a lovely pass up to Targett whose pinged cross draws a save out of Schmeichel. Leicester break from a long pass up to Iheanacho who pulls Hause and Mings towards him and squares for the supporting Maddison who opens his body and spears a low shot that Nyland turns round the right post at full stretch with his finger tips. A touch more force and that would have been in.
3 min Aston Villa 0 (1) Leicester City 0 (1)
Villa attack up the left through Guilbert and win a throw-in that the right wing-back hurls to Samatta who wins the header and knocks it back to Guilbert. Chilwell wins it back and Leicester break like greased pigs, freeing Iheanacho down the inside-left channel, burning past Konsa and taking on Mings. He turns the England centre-back, then wriggles past him and spanks a left-foot shot from the tightest of angles against the foot of the post and Nyland scrambles it away.
1 min Aston Villa 0 (1) Leicester City 0 (1)
Mike Dean, whose beloved Tranmere were stuffed by playing Manchester United 60 hours after beating Watford, is the referee and whistles for Villa to kick off. They knock it back to Mings who sweeps a long diagonal pass up the left where Ricardo wins the header and Leicester consolidate possession in midfield.
Out come the teams
The ground, which was alarmingly empty only a few minutes ago, has filled up. Samatta, according to our alliterative commentator, is 'The Tanzanian Trailblazer'. Well, quite.
Is 'super-excited' by the purchase of Samatta, particularly because he restores balance to the forward line and allows El Ghazi to move back to the wing and thinks the back three makes them more secure.
Were changed last year at the clubs' request. Away goals do not count double in the event of a drawn tie and the tie will be decided by penalties at the conclusion of the second leg, ie no extra time, if the tie is drawn.
For anyone watching in black and white
Aston Villa Nyland; Konsa, Mings, Hause; Guilbert, Douglas Luiz, Nakamba, Targett; El Ghazi, Samatta, Grealish.
Substitutes Sarkic, Elmohamady, Chester, Lansbury, Hourihane, Trezeguet, Davis.
Leicester City Schmeichel; Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi, Tielemans; Perez, Maddison, Barnes; Iheanacho.
Substitutes Ward, Justin, Gray, Benkovic, Praet, Albrighton, Vardy.
Vardy on the bench for Leicester
Subs: Ward, Justin, Gray, Vardy, Albrighton, Benković, Praet.#AvlLei— Leicester City (@LCFC) January 28, 2020
Samatta makes Villa debut
This Carabao Cup semi-final tie resumes at Villa Park 20 days on since the first leg at the King Power where Villa played very well to secure a 1-1 draw and were unlucky not to walk away with the victory. A place in the 60th League Cup final is at stake which would be Villa’s first for 10 years and Leicester’s first for 20.
Villa have done well since that trouncing by Manchester City, picking up a point, less than they deserved, at Brighton and beating Watford to climb out of the relegation places. Leicester have recovered from their strange stumble during which they were beaten by Southampton and Burnley to wallop West Ham and they will have Jamie Vardy back tonight with the words of his manager, urging him to grasp the opportunity of qualifying for a Wembley final at the age of 33, as an additional spur.
Last time we suggested the best thing for fans of neither club would be the opportunity to assess the rival merits of eminent Coventrian James Maddison and Solihull’s Jack Grealish for a wildcard role in England’s Euro 2020 finals squad. Both have a gift for off the cuff creative invention that no other qualified player possesses but whether Gareth Southgate would ever trust Maddison, who has greater positional discipline in the centre than ever before, and Grealish, just as gifted yet in a more free role on the left, remains doubtful.
Having built them up before the first leg, Grealish made the greater impact as Leicester were overrun in midfield until Brendan Rodgers introduced Hamza Choudhury. Maddison will have Wilfred Ndidi back tonight to give him the platform to try to break Villa’s impressive defence, particularly Tyrone Mings who played very well in the middle of a three until the slippery Kelechi Iheanacho made his mark from the bench. We’re told we can expect a more cohesive, confident performance from the visitors tonight while Villa may give a debut to the first Tanzania international to grace our game. Mbwana Ally Samatta took the well-worn road from East Africa to Belgium where he scored 20 goals for Genk last season. He has a reputation as a formidable header of the ball - and should lap up Villa’s switch to playing with wing-backs and raining in crosses.