31 min There has been nothing in the game since Targett’s goal. You could argue that, for all Leicester’s possession, Villa have been the more dangerous side in the last 20 minutes.
29 min Maddison loses Nakamba beautifully on the edge of the centre circle, advances to within 25 yards of goal and then slashes a shot well wide.
28 min “I’m really glad that Brendan isn’t leaving anything in the bag, instead sending out his best,” says Hubert O’Hearn. “If the last couple of days taught us anything, a couple of days that have advanced the dismembering of the Spurs ‘nearly team’ and the death of basketball’s Kobe Bryant at age 41 it is this: you get so very few chances in sport to complete what you started as a child kicking or shooting a tiny ball at a plastic net, when you have a real chance to touch the silverware, to really know what winning feels like, don’t let the moment pass. Because life, especially the sporting life, guarantees you no second chances, tomorrow may not come.”
26 min: Disallowed goal for Villa. Ndidi gets a last warning for a foul on Grealish, who has been immense so far. As I type that, Grealish plays a lovely angled through pass to release Guilbert – but he makes his run too early and is rightly flagged offside before he crosses for Samatta to score.
24 min A few minutes of calm amid the storm. That goal has certainly had an impact on Leicester, who started the game like a team in a serious hurry. Now they need to be a bit more careful because another Villa goal would put them in serious trouble.
21 min The first quarter of the game has flown by, which is usually a good sign. A Leicester corner is headed away to Ricardo, who slashes the bouncing ball just wide from 25 yards. Nyland had it covered.
20 min El Ghazi’s deep cross from the right is cushioned neatly by Targett, back towards Grealish on the edge of the area. Ndidi gets out well to block Grealish’s first-time shot.
19 min The debutant Samatta pleases the crowd by harassing Tielemans into a mistake near the halfway line. He hasn’t seen much of the ball yet, with Villa playing largely on the break.
18 min Goals change games, and Leicester have yet to regain their strut since going behind.
16 min “Hi Rob,” says Matt Burtz. “What are your thoughts on the away goals rule not applying here? I understand that the reasoning behind the rule is probably antiquated, but I think it rewards attacking play and overall makes a two-legged affair more exciting.”
Most people I know hate the rule. I’ve always loved it, particularly in Europe, because of the exquisite tension. But like you, I appreciate it’s probably antiquated.
15 min Maddison shoves Grealish over 25 yards from goal, a silly and needless foul. El Ghazi curls it just over the bar. I think Schmeichel would have it covered as he scrambled to his left, but it was a fine effort.
The goal came from a good Villa counter-attack. It was made by Grealish, who held off Ricardo just inside the Leicester area while he waited for support. Eventually he bounced a short reverse pass to the overlapping Targett, who smashed a first-time shot that whistled past the left leg of Schmeichel. He couldn’t decide whether to try to save it with his hands or feet; in the end, he did neither.
GOAL! Aston Villa 1-0 Leicester (Targett 12)
Villa take the lead against the run of play!
9 min Maddison completes a hat-trick of near misses. Already. It was another lovely fingertip save from Nyland, who was probably unsighted when Maddison cracked a left-footed shot from 20 yards. It was going in the corner until Nyland dived a long way to his left to push it round the post.
8 min Tacticswatch: Leicester are playing a 4-2-3-1, with Maddison further forward and Tielemans alongside Ndidi. Thus far it has worked; M addison could have scored twice.
7 min Another chance for Maddison, who slams a left-footed snapshot just wide from the edge of the box. Leicester have made a seriously fast start with and without the ball.
5 min: Brilliant save from Nyland! This has been a great start to the game. Leicester broke dangerously through Iheanacho, who found Maddison on the edge of the area. He beat Mings beautifully through sleight of hip and sidefooted a low shot towards the far corner. Nyland plunged to his left, strained every sinew in his left arm and just got enough on the ball to push it behind for a corner.
4 min A lovely attack from Villa. Grealish plays a fine angled pass to the underlapping Targett, whose driven first-time cross is kicked away at the near post by the stretching Schmeichel with Samatta waiting behind him.
2 min An early chance for Iheanacho! He has such a good record against Villa and almost scored inside two minutes. He was too strong for Mings as the pair wrestled for a bouncing ball on the left side of the area. His shirt was being pulled by Mings but he stayed on his feet and smashed a shot from a very tight angle that was blocked by Nyland.
2 min There aren’t many empty seats now, and there’s a cracking noise as Villa attack for the first time. Chilwell lumps the ball clear.
1 min Peep peep! Villa kick off from right to left. They are in claret and blue; Leicester are in their dark grey away kit.
There are a surprising number of empty seats at Villa Park, though that’s probably because thousands of supporters are in the bowels of the stadium quaffing something other than Carabao.
This is sheer delightful football writing
Brendanwatch “I think tonight could potentially reveal a little bit about Rodgers’ evolution as a coach,” says Stephen Carr. “Will he play his strongest team in their natural positions or will he try and be the smartest guy in the room with innumerable false nines, inverted pyramids and perhaps a rush goalie?”
It looks like the strongest team. I think Rodgers has a slightly unfair reputationt. He did and said a few ludicrous things when he was younger, but didn’t we all. In tactical terms, I’ve never really seen him as someone who tries to make the game about him.
Ally Samatta, Villa’s new Tanzanian striker, goes straight into the starting XI. Jamie Vardy is only fit enough for the Leicester bench; but Wilfred Ndidi, who was badly missed in the first leg, returns to the starting line-up.
Aston Villa (3-4-2-1) Nyland; Konsa, Hause, Mings; Guilbert, Nakamba, Luiz, Targett; El Ghazi, Grealish; Samatta.
Substitutes: Sarkic, Elmohamady, Chester, Hourihane, Lansbury, Trezeguet, Davies.
Leicester City (4-1-4-1) Schmeichel; Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi, Perez, Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes; Iheanacho.
Substitutes: Ward, Justin, Gray, Vardy, Albrighton, Benkovic, Praet.
Referee Mike Dean.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg between Aston Villa and Leicester City. Tonight’s match is a cynicism-free zone. There will be no entitlement, no ennui at the prospect of another trip to Wembley; just two teams and sets of supporters who are desperate to reach a cup final.
Leicester have not done so since beating Tranmere in the final of this competition 20 years ago. It was known as the Worthington Cup back then, so sponsorship has progressed from booze to energy drinks. By the year 2040, they’ll be competing for the Matcha Latte Cup.
The last final Villa reached was the painful FA Cup hammering by Arsenal in 2015. The last time they won a trophy – not counting the
Intertoto Cup – was when they hammered Leeds 3-0 in the final of this competition in 1996.
Villa, in particular, will be big underdogs should they reach the final, as they are likely to face the same Manchester City side that plugged them 6-1 the other week. But they’d happily take their chances, because no side in history has won a trophy without first risking their dignity. Besides, beating one of the best teams in Leicester’s history would in itself be a memorable triumph.
Leicester start the match as favourites, despite being held to a 1-1 draw in the home leg. You probably know the revised regulations by now: no away-goals rule, no extra-time. If the teams are level after 90 minutes, it goes straight to penalties. May the best team win, and may their fans celebrate until all hours.
Kick-off is at 7.45pm GMT.