WATCH: Pre-Aston Villa training | Failand Uncut 005
Posted: Wednesday, September 23rd 2020
Thursday, September 24th 2020
City have exited the Carabao Cup in the third round after suffering their first defeat of the season in Thursday night’s 3-0 loss to Aston Villa.
Two defensive errors set their Premier League opponents on their way to a 2-0 lead after just 15 minutes. Keinan Davis showed too much strength for Tommy Rowe and his cross found the unmarked Anwar El Ghazi who tapped home.
Bertrand Traoré, unmarked on the right, would quickly double the visitors lead with a spectacular, cushioned volley, which sailed over Max O’Leary who put in a shift between the sticks to deny Villa on many occasions as the match unfolded.
Substitute Ollie Watkins then rounded off the night by finishing a swift move with a close-range tap in.
Kasey Palmer, who starred in City's Round Two win over Northampton Town, returned to the starting XI, as did goalkeeper O'Leary. There was also a first start for Chris Brunt in midfield as the Robins, captained by Taylor Moore, went in search of a fifth-straight win in all competitions.
However, Villa made their intentions of halting City in their tracks early on and only a fine double-save from O’Leary kept them at bay in the opening exchanges. Dean Smith’s side worked a move down right, ending with a low cross which was steered goalwards by Davis. O’Leary produced the vital block with his leg, before palming away the second shot from El Ghazi.
Yet El Ghazi was not to be denied minutes later as the hosts took their lead inside 11 minutes. Davis took on Rowe, sending the Robins defender on the floor, before pulling the ball back across goal and El Ghazi completed the attack with an easy close-range finish.
And it was 2-0 after a quarter-of-an-hour when Traoré, unfortunately for City, marked his debut in style. Jacob Ramsey picked out his teammate on the right hand side and Traoré looped the ball into the far corner with a volley which left O’Leary with no chance.
It was a nightmare start in terms of conceding under the lights so early, yet the hosts had not been outplayed and still had time to get back into the tie.
Their best chance of the first half fell for Diédhiou whose header was placed narrowly wide. Antoine Semenyo put on the after-burners and showed a turn of pace to get between two Villa defenders, before he cut the ball back for Niclas Eliasson. His initial shot was blocked but it rebounded for the winger who produced a delicious cross with his left boot for the head of Diédhiou - but the striker’s effort was off target.
Villa then had appeals for a penalty dismissed when Ramsey claimed a touch by Rowe when he fell to the floor, while O’Leary was alert to tip over a strong shot from distance by Davies as City trailed at the interval.
City had been unable to penetrate the Villa backline despite some promising play, with the game resuming in a similar fashion.
And similar to the first half, El Ghazi looked in the mood for the Premier League outfit though he saw two efforts sail over the bar.
Holden made his first change just after the hour-mark with Tyreeq Bakinson brought on to replace Chris Brunt. The former West Brom midfielder’s passing was a joy to watch at times but Bakinson had been earning all the plaudits of late. He almost scored immediately too, with a placed shot which he put wide, while at the other end O’Leary denied Villa third goal when he blocked an El Ghazi shot with his legs.
However, Villa did snatch their third goal with 15 minutes remaining. El Ghazi was involved in the counter attacking move, unleashing Mahmoud Trézéguet down the right whose ball to the back post was swept home by Watkins.
The former Brentford man would be denied by the fingertips of O’Leary later as City tried to keep their fight alive. And Semenyo had a great chance to score his third goal of the competition when he battled well to rob Kortney Hause of the ball deep inside their own half, but as he bared down on goal, he could only fire wide.
Holden made a double change in the aftermath with Han-Noah Massengo and Chris Martin on to replace Palmer and Diédhiou, respectively, but still the away team looked to extend their lead only for O’Leary to thwart Watkins and Trézéguet in the latter stages.
The result would end City’s run of four-consecutive wins, with their attentions now back on the Sky Bet Championship and a return to BS3 where they will host Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday (September 27th, 1pm KO).
The match will be exclusively streamed on Robins TV.