Wednesday media watch [09.01.13 AM]: Bradford press reaction
Birmingham Mail: Villa's Capital One Cup fairytale turned into a nightmare nursery rhyme after the Grand Old 'Duke' of Yorkshire left Paul Lambert's youngsters with a mountain to climb to reach Wembley. Bradford's regally-named veteran stopper Matt Duke reigned on Villa's parade at Valley Parade to give their cup kings a 3-1 lead ahead of the second leg at Villa Park in a fortnight. Clinical goals from Nahki Wells, Ross McArdle and Carl McHugh put the Bantams in control - but Villa will hope Andi Weimann's late strike gives them a Dalian Atkinson-style lifeline.
Mirror: Bradford's jubilation mirrored Villa's humiliation and their cup campaign has been the one positive from their abject league season. Their performances in the cup, winning well at Manchester City and Norwich, had been immune to their ailments in the Premier League until last night. Villa know they must turn the tie around at Villa Park in a fortnight's time if they are to avoid being completely embarrassed. History offers them some comfort and they turned around a 3-1 semi-final first leg deficit against Tranmere Rovers in 1994 to go on and lift the trophy under Ron Atkinson. However that team of Paul McGrath, Dean Saunders and Dalian Atkinson was a good side, something Paul Lambert's team is not. Lambert was dismayed by his side's woeful finishing and poor defending and they have now shipped 21 goals in their last six games. Villa paid a high price for missing so many chances and Charles N'Zogbia and Christian Benteke squandered four between them in the opening minutes.
Guardian: Bradford City - skint in League Two, on a journey that has taken them close to financial ruin and fielding a side here that cost the grand total of £7,500 - are close to producing one of the great cup stories of modern-day football. What a night this was for Phil Parkinson's unlikely heroes and what a prize if they can expose Aston Villa's shortcomings again in the return leg in two weeks' time. The team eighth in League Two, 11 years out of the Premier League and twice in administration, played with so much spirit, togetherness and belief nobody should be too convinced Paul Lambert's team will recover from a harrowing first leg. Andreas Weimann's 82nd-minute goal at least offers Villa a semblance of hope and, if they are looking for something to cling on to, they can remember how in 1994 they also lost 3-1 in the first leg of their semi-final, against a second-tier Tranmere Rovers. Ron Atkinson's side won the return leg by the same score and went through on penalties.
Telegraph: Even after this chastening experience, Paul Lambert could still go one better than the man he refers to as "the gaffer" this season by lifting a League Cup at Aston Villa, but the need for reinforcements was abundantly and brutally clear at Valley Parade. This was another harsh lesson for Lambert's callow team and a reminder that a short-term fix is required this month to ensure his brave new era is allowed to flower in the Premier League. The absence of leadership and players willing to take responsibility was glaringly obvious once again, even against a team operating in League Two who had been embarrassed by Barnet last weekend. Villa should have rendered the second leg later this month a virtual non-event early on but a combination of profligacy and defensive uncertainty enabled Bradford to come within one game of booking a trip to Wembley. The tie is not over, of course, and Lambert could end a testing first season with something tangible and follow in the footsteps of his mentor Martin O'Neill by establishing an affinity with this competition.
Daily Mail: Paul Lambert has had to endure his share of high-profile suffering as his debut season at Aston Villa has lurched from one disappointment to another. Last night, however, his pain stretched to new boundaries as his team from the Barclays Premier League became the latest casualties of a visit to Bradford. Villa, of course, conceded 15 goals in a three-game horror show over Christmas and the New Year. Chelsea put eight past them in one afternoon. This, however, was trauma on a quite different scale, defeat by two clear goals by a team from the fourth tier. As such, this was embarrassing. Let's not detract from another glorious night for Phil Parkinson's Bradford City. This was another night taken straight from a film set. A night of heroic goalkeeping and punishing goalscoring, it brought them another famous victory to place alongside the one that did for Arsenal in the last round. If they reach Wembley next month then the greatest story of this season - at any level - will already have been written. What can we say of Villa, though? What can we say of a team who cannot defend corners against a team from League Two and cannot convert chances from just a matter of yards? Certainly, there is, really, only one way they can atone for this wretched effort. Comprehensive victory in the second leg at Villa Park is the only way Lambert's players can rid themselves of this stain.
Daily Express: Bradford produced more Capital One Cup heroics at Valley Parade to see off another Barclays Premier League side as they claimed a 3-1 victory in their semi-final first-leg clash with Aston Villa. Bermudian striker Nahki Wells coolly despatched a shot from inside the penalty area following a rebound in the 19th minute and defender Rory McArdle headed home Gary Jones' cross in the 77th minute to give the npower League Two side an unlikely two-goal lead. Bradford almost put the tie beyond their top-flight opponents moments later when striker James Hanson headed against the crossbar, but Villa, who spurned a hatful of chances in either half, grabbed a crucial late lifeline through Andreas Weimann before Carl McHugh restored the home side's two-goal advantage with another header two minutes from full-time. City, who had already sent Premier League clubs Wigan and, unforgettably, Arsenal packing in the previous rounds, were a match throughout for Villa, who were thwarted on at least half a dozen occasions by the heroics of home goalkeeper Matt Duke. It was fast and furious.
Independent: Not since 1911 have Bradford had a night like this. Not for more than 100 years has this outpost in West Yorkshire experienced such delight. It explains much; the fervour, the passion, the roar that floated into the night air as Howard Webb's whistle confirmed a truly historic evening had ended. A city felt unified. One hundred and two years ago, victory in their only other semi-final was enough to take Bradford to the FA Cup final. This time, they must do it all again to head for as unlikely a final appearance as you will find. Paul Lambert could not quite decide where to pitch his emotions at full-time. Christian Benteke spurned five excellent chances while Charles N'Zogbia and Darren Bent could both have scored twice. There were storms to be weathered by the home side before they could make their surge for the history books.
Daily Star: The giant-killers of Bradford claimed another huge scalp to humiliate Paul Lambert's Aston Villa flops and take a massive step towards dreamland. Goals from Nahki Wells, Rory McArdle and Carl McHugh secured a stunning win for the Bantams as their Capital One Cup fairy tale scaled new heights. Phil Parkinson's League Two side still have to go to Villa Park for the return leg, but on this evidence a place in the final at Wembley is no longer wishful thinking. Andreas Weimann's goal for Villa in the closing stages salvaged some pride for the Premier League side, but last night Valley Parade belonged to a Bradford outfit that cost less than £8,000 to assemble.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.