With US goalkeeper Brad Guzan and Yank defender Eric Lichaj watching from the bench, Premier League strugglers Aston Villa could only muster a 2-1 win over fourth-tier side Bradford City in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal at Villa Park today.
The result was not enough for the Villans to overcome a 3-1 first-leg deficit and thus eliminated Villa from the tournament and made Bradford City the first fourth-division team to reach the League Cup final since 1962. They’ll play either Chelsea or Swansea City in the final on Feb. 24 at Wembley.
Villa owned 72% of possession in the first half today, and created three clear chances before Christian Benteke put them ahead 1-0 in the 24th minute. They couldn’t translate their dominance into more goals, though, and in the 55th minute, Bradford striker James Hanson (above left) headed in a Gary Jones corner kick to make it 1-1 and restore the lower-level side’s two-goal aggregate advantage.
Hanson nearly scored again just minutes later and Bradford rattled Shay Given’s crossbar in the late stages before Villa’s Andreas Weimann bagged one in the 89th minute to set up a tense finish. But the heavy favorites could not find that crucial third goal, which would have sent the tie into extra time, and the visitors, who dispatched Arsenal in the previous round, were soon celebrating an historic win.
So which is more humiliating for Villa, this defeat to a League Two team, or December’s 8-0 thrashing by Chelsea? Tough call, but it’s probably this one.
The Villans return to Premier League action on Jan. 29, when they host Newcastle in a relegation battle. Villa is currently in 17th place, one point above the drop, while Newcastle is in 16th, two points clear.