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Villa U19 3-1 Sporting U19 [AET]: Brilliant Villa book final spot

Villa U19 v Sporting U19: Live coverage from NextGen semi-final Villa U19 3-1 Sporting U19: McAndrew proud of his Euro stars
Villa U19 3-1 Sporting U19 [AET]: Brilliant Villa book final spot


Villa are 90 minutes away from European glory after producing a heroic display to defeat Sporting Lisbon in the NextGen Series semi-final.

Tony McAndrew's team won a pulsating contest at Lake Como's Stadio Giuseppe Sinigaglia to set up an all-English final against Chelsea.

Graham Burke opened the scoring with a penalty early in the second half but the claret and blues were forced to dig deep when Luka Stojanovic netted a deserved equaliser for the Portuguese side.

However, this young Villa side showed guts and determination in abundance during extra-time, with Jack Grealish and Samir Carruthers scoring the decisive goals.

This clash had plenty to live up to after the first semi-final saw Chelsea edge Arsenal in a seven-goal extra-time thriller.

There was a cagey start to the last four tie between two sides who faced each other in the group stages earlier in the season.

Unsurprisingly, Villa were unchanged from the side that efficiently saw off Olympiacos in the quarter-finals at Villa Park nine days ago.

The boys in claret and blue had an early let-off when Sporting attacker Diego Rubio failed to keep his first-time effort down from eight yards.

Janoi Donacien came closest to scoring for Villa in the first period.

After finding some space in the box, the centre-back opted to drive a shot across goal only for Mickael Meira to parry it to safety.

From there on, Sporting looked slightly more in control.

Luri Medeiros fired wide across goal, while Farley Rosa narrowly missed the target from 25 yards after cutting in from the right hand side.

A piercing run from Ricardo Esgaio allowed Medeiros to find another opening but, after receiving possession and neatly riding Donacien's slide tackle, he blasted over.

Three minutes before the break, Grealish almost produced a moment of magic for Villa.

The Solihull-born winger embarked on a mazy run down the left before chipping a cross to the back post which was just out of Josh Barton's reach.

Sporting did have the ball in the net in first-half stoppage time when Joao Palhinha stabbed home from close range but the linesman quickly raised a flag for offside.

The second half began with goalkeeper Brad Watkins tipping a dipping left-foot effort from Medeiros over the bar.

But then a huge opportunity came Villa's way when Fabrice Fokobo tripped Carruthers just outside the six yard box.

The referee pointed to the spot and Burke calmly stepped up to power home the penalty, giving Villa a 54th minute lead.

From there on, though, Villa were forced to withstand some intense Sporting pressure.

Palhinha had another effort ruled out for offside, while Medeiros rattled the cross bar after cutting in from the right.

And, on 68 minutes, the Portuguese side grabbed a deserved equaliser.

This time substitute Stojanovic got into a poacher's position to convert a header from Esgaio's dangerous ball into the box.

Donacien went close with a looping header but there was a further scare for Villa towards the end of normal time when Fokobo forced his way past two players and drove wide.

And so extra-time was required to settle this enthralling encounter.

Within minutes of the restart, Callum Robinson made a driving run down the left and his cross found its way through to Grealish at the back post, who forced a shot past the keeper to spark wild celebrations among the claret and blue contingent.

Substitute Khalid Abdo came close to adding another when Meira blocked his shot in a one-on-one situation.

It was left to skipper Carruthers to seal Villa's spot in the final.

With a minute of the first extra period remaining, Grealish seized upon a defensive error and slotted in Carruthers who applied a cool finish from the edge of the box.

VILLA: Watkins, Webb, Donacien, Lewis, Kinsella, Barton, Lyden, Carruthers, Grealish, Burke, Robinson. Subs: Bateman, Grant, Toner, Crooks, Calder, Abdo, Crowley.

SPORTING: Meira, Riquicho, Semedo, Figueirido, Pinto, Fokobo, Esgaio, Palhinha, Rubio, Rosa, Medeiros. Subs: Oliviera, Ribeiro, Martins, Stojanovic, Mallmann, Manafa, Guedes.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 29th March 2013
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