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Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City

Team news: Three changes for Carabao Cup Final Dean's debrief: Final defeat, performance pride and Premier League focus
Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City

Aston Villa pushed Manchester City all the way but were edged out 2-1 in the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley.

Dean Smith's battling side, roared on by over 33,000 Villa supporters, showed spirit and determination aplenty and duly came close to snatching an 88th-minute equaliser only to see Claudio Bravo push Bjorn Engels' header on to a post.

But they were ultimately undone by Sergio Aguero's 20th-minute strike and Rodrigo's header on the half-hour mark from a controversially-awarded corner.

Ally Samatta headed Villa back in contention just before half-time but, despite a late rally in the closing stages which saw Engels denied, they could not find a leveller as holders City went on to claim the League Cup for a third successive season.

Villa, who were making their third visit to the national stadium in as many seasons, were thwarted in their bid to lift the trophy for a sixth time in their history - but were applauded by the club's travelling faithful at the full-time whistle in what was a first appearance in a major Final since 2015.

Head Coach Smith made three changes from the Premier League defeat at Southampton last time out, Ørjan Nyland, Ahmed Elmohamady and Engels coming into a 4-2-3-1 set-up.

It was Villa who started on the front foot, Anwar El Ghazi heading Elmohamady’s cross on to the roof of the net after just three minutes.

City went on to dominate possession in the opening stages, with Villa holding their own, although they fell behind with 20 minutes on the clock.

Rodrigo sent a ball to the far side of the penalty area which was met by Phil Foden, who headed back across goal for Aguero to convert from six yards.

El Ghazi tested Bravo before Foden saw an effort deflected wide, yet Pep Guardiola’s side doubled their advantage in debated circumstances on the half-hour mark.

City were awarded a corner, despite the ball appearing to take a final touch off Ilkay Gundogan before going out of play, and the Germany international delivered the subsequent corner from which Rodrigo headed past Nyland.

However, Villa dragged themselves back into the encounter as they reduced the arrears four minutes before the interval, Samatta arriving at the near post to meet El Ghazi’s cross and head home.

Foden sent an effort off target in the 53rd minute as City enjoyed the better of the early stages in the second period, with Villa standing firm.

And Smith's side went on to pose an attacking threat of their own as the second half wore on, with the Final still firmly in the balance.

Trezeguet and Conor Hourihane were both introduced in the 70th minute to add fresh impetus, with Nyland getting down low to save from Rodrigo shortly afterwards.

Smith turned to Keinan Davis with 10 minutes remaining and Engels almost forced extra-time, only to be denied by Bravo's super save to push his header on to the woodwork.

Both sides threatened as the final stages went from end to end but it was City and their fans amid the 82,149 present who were celebrating at the final whistle on the 60th anniversary of the competition.

Villa: Nyland, Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett, Luiz, Nakamba, Elmohamady (Trezeguet 70), Grealish, El Ghazi (Hourihane 70), Samatta (Davis 80).

Subs: Reina, Taylor, Konsa, Lansbury.

Goals: Aguero (20), Rodrigo (30), Samatta (41)

Who’s next?

Villa return to Premier League action with a trip to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester City on Monday, March 9 (ko 8pm).

Tickets are sold out. Thank you, as always, for your magnificent support!

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 1st March 2020