Match: Villa v Cardiff
Date: 10th April, 2017
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Villa Park
Weather: 8c, overcast with showers
Super Jack Grealish was Villa’s matchwinner as the claret and blues beat second-placed Cardiff City 1-0 at Villa Park.
The midfielder struck a sensational volley five minutes from the end to settle a tense and cagey contest at B6.
Villa could have been in front with just two minutes on the clock but Lewis Grabban fired into the side netting from the inside-right channel.
The visitors responded with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing streaking away down the right and hitting an effort off the foot of the upright.
Albert Adomah also flicked a loose ball across goal and wide while Sam Johnstone produced a fine double save to keep the Bluebirds out in first half stoppage time and Ahmed Elmohamady was in the perfect place to knock Kenneth Zohore’s goal-bound effort off the line.
Johnstone was called into action again minutes after the break, turning away Zohore’s low effort with an outstretched foot.
Jonathan Kodjia, introduced as a second-half substitute, was then denied by Neil Etheridge after nipping away from City’s Sean Morrison on the edge of the box.
Grabban then picked out Conor Hourihane with a superbly-weighted through-ball but the midfielder prodded wide with Etheridge closing in.
At the other end, Mendez-Laing cut in off the right flank and sent an arrowing shot goalwards that Johnstone pawed away as both sides worked to find the breakthrough.
The breakthrough came with five minutes to play and it was worth waiting for.
A free-kick was cleared to the edge of the box where Grealish unleashed a stupendous volley that crashed into the net off the woodwork.
Paterson, Gunnarsson, Bennett, Ward, Peltier
Hourihane, Snodgrass, Johnstone, Kodjia
VILLA: Johnstone; Elmohamady, Jedinak, Chester, Tuanzebe (Bree 26); Snodgrass, Bjarnason, Hourihane (Samba 88), Grealish, Adomah (Kodjia 60); Grabban. Unused subs: Bunn, Hogan, Lansbury.
CARDIFF: Etheridge; Peltier, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Paterson, Grujic, Gunnarsson; Mendez-Laing (Pilkington 90), Zohore (Madine 68), Hoilett (Ward 88). Unused subs: Murphy, Manga, Bryson, Traore.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Assistant Referee 1: Michael George
Assistant Referee 2: Shaun Hudson
Fourth Official: Andrew Madley