Live Commentary: Aston Villa 2-1 Bradford City (3-4 on aggregate) - as it happened

League Two underdogs Bradford City celebrate their League Cup semi-final win over Aston Villa on January 22, 2013
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Sports Mole brings you live commentary of the second leg of the League Cup quarter-final between Aston Villa and Bradford City at Villa Park.

Aston Villa welcomed Bradford City in the League Cup quarter-final on Tuesday trailing 3-1 from the first leg against the League Two side.

Early pressure paid off as they took the lead on the night with a Christian Benteke strike after 24 minutes.

Villa continued to force the issue in the latter stages of the first period, but it remained 1-0 at the break with Bradford still leading on aggregate.

The away side sensationally levelled on the evening after 55 minutes, however, when James Hanson thumped a powerful header into the back of the net.

Both teams had chances in the latter stages and Villa made it 2-1 on the evening through Andreas Weimann late on, but it was not enough as Bradford advanced 4-3 on aggregate.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.


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6.46pmEvening all! Well, what an incredible night we have on our hands. When the League Cup started in August, you would certainly have got good odds on Bradford City making the final four. Villa’s appearance – their 14th in League Cup semi-finals – is also a surprise with Paul Lambert’s team struggling in the Premier League this season.

6.49pmStrangely, Villa have not played a League Cup tie at home since August’s second-round victory over Tranmere Rovers in their first match of the competition. They enter this evening as one of just three teams that has made the League Cup semi-finals on 14 separate occasions, the other two being Arsenal and Liverpool. Now there's a good quiz question.

6.52pmAs mentioned, Villa do not enter this match in good form. They have won just one of their last eight games in all competitions. As a result, they sit one point outside of the bottom three in the Premier League and face seven days that could shape their season. Following tonight’s match they face Millwall in the FA Cup on Friday before hosting fellow strugglers Newcastle United in the league next week.

6.55pmPaul Lambert must be credited for his willingness to blood young players, but they have had some disappointing results, with an 8-0 defeat away to Chelsea followed by losses against Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic before the turn of the year. They have also conceded 24 goals in their last nine fixtures and will have to score four to progress should they concede this evening.

6.58pmPerhaps the most worrying statistic for Villa is that they have conceded the second-highest amount of set-piece goals in the Premier League this season, with all three of Bradford’s goals in the opening leg coming from dead ball situations. The fact that Lambert has stuck with his young players must be commended, but it does not take a genius to work out that they have lacked organisation in defensive areas.

6.59pmThe Darren Bent saga continues to cause Villa problems, with many supporters questioning the decision to leave the £24m striker on the bench this season. However, Christian Benteke has provided some relief with goals and a host of encouraging performances. They will perhaps look to Gabriel Agbonlahor this evening, however, with the striker scoring five goals in seven matches in this year’s competition. The team news for both teams is just filtering in.

7.01pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS: Aston Villa make three changes from the side which drew 2-2 with West Bromwich Albion at the weekend. Stephen Ireland, Shay Given and Barry Bannan all come into the team in place of Brad Guzan, Nathan Baker and Ashley Westwood. Meanwhile, Bradford have Stephen Derby available despite an injury scare and Zavon Hines also starts in attack in an unchanged side from the first leg.

7.03pmTEAMS:

ASTON VILLA: Given; Vlaar, Clark, Bennett, Lowton; Ireland, Delph, N'Zogbia, Bannan, Agbonlahor; Benteke

BRADFORD CITY: Duke; McHugh, Darby, McArdle, Good; Atkinson, Doyle, Hines, Jones, Wells; Hanson


7.06pmIn Villa’s way this evening is a Bradford side that are aiming to become the first fourth-tier finalists in the League Cup since 1962. However, Queens Park Rangers and Swindon Town, then of the third tier, have won the trophy in the past. That said, they will have to improve on their recent form if they are to progress to the final, with just two wins from their last nine matches in all competitions.

7.09pmThe omens do not read well for Bradford, meanwhile, with the Bantams losing 2-0 the last time they visited Villa Park 12 years ago. That result this evening would see Villa progress to the final on away goals. However, if Bradford do manage to progress, then they will become the first fourth-tier team to knock out three Premier League teams in the same year. Here's a pre-match prediction from former Wales midfielder Robbie Savage on Twitter: "Soooo Villa v Bradford tonight, I'm going for a Villa win 4-1."

7.12pmBradford’s success in the League Cup does appear to have come at a price with their league form struggling. They have taken just five points from the last 18 on offer, the third-worst record in the division, while they sit in 10th position in the table. That said, they are just two points outside of the playoff positions with a game in hand.

7.15pmLet’s take a look at how both sides made it to this stage of the competition. Villa opened their campaign with a 3-0 win over Tranmere Rovers in the second round before travelling to Premier League holders Manchester City. With a strong home side, not too many gave Villa a hope of making the next round, but they scored twice in extra-time to book their spot in the fourth round.

7.18pmNext came a visit to Swindon Town, where they emerged as 3-2 winners to set up a tie with Lambert’s former club Norwich City. The prediction of a tight match failed to materialise with Villa securing their progress with a 4-1 win. Meanwhile, as has been well documented, they lost 3-1 in the first leg of the semi-finals to their opponents this evening.

7.21pmBradford, meanwhile, secured back-to-back away wins against Notts County and Watford in round one and two respectively before facing Burton Albion at home. It proved to be tougher than expected, but they did set up a clash with Wigan Athletic by securing a 3-2 win. They drew 0-0 away at the Latics, but progressed on penalties.

7.24pmNext came Arsenal in the fifth round of the competition, but they held firm to draw 1-1 before winning on penalties in a sensational night at Valley Parade. There was some suggestion that Bradford had all but booked their spot in the final following their first-leg win, but they know as well as anyone that anything can happen in cup football. This tie is far from over.

7.27pmLet’s take a quick look at how both sides have fared in recent weeks. Villa enter the match off the back of a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion at the weekend, but their performance in the opening 45 minutes was arguably their most impressive of the season. They suffered disappointment with defeat to Southampton one week before, while the first-leg defeat was preceded by an FA Cup win over Ipswich Town and a 2-2 draw with Swansea City in the league.

7.30pmBradford, meanwhile, enter the match off the back of a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Oxford United on January 12. However, they have had time to work on the training ground with their league match last weekend falling victim to the bad weather. They also struggled before their first-leg win, however, with defeats to Barnet and Rochdale and a 0-0 draw at Morecambe.

7.33pmBradford were in Johnstone’s Paint Trophy action against Crewe Alexandra last Tuesday, but to suggest that Phil Parkinson sacrificed their hopes in that competition by making wholesale changes would be the underestimation of the century. But who can blame him ahead of arguably their biggest fixture in their history? There would be something magic about seeing a League Two side turn out at Wembley for the final of this competition.

7.36pmHere are some pre-match thoughts from both managers. Lambert told reporters: "I don't think you can use the word revenge. The players know they're hurt by it and they know they've got the chance to rectify it and get through. It could be a fantastic night. We have to come out of the blocks and if we do that, and we do what we did in the first half on Saturday, hopefully we will go through."

7.39pmMeanwhile, Phil Parkinson added: "We know it is only half-time in the tie. Aston Villa will still be the favourites to progress, but if we give it our best shot in the second leg, regardless of whether we go through to the final or not, at least we can say that we have given it everything. If Villa are to eventually get to Wembley, we have to make sure that we really make them earn it."

7.42pmHere we go then. The players join us on the pitch with just about three minutes until kickoff. Following the completion of the pre-match handshakes and the exchanging of flags, we will be ready to get the action underway. I am backing a 3-0 home win for Villa this evening, I think Bradford have to score if they want to progress.

0 minTonight's referee is Phil Dowd. Just a quick reminder of the main team news. Villa recall Given and Ireland to their team this evening, while Benteke starts as the lone striker. Bradford, meanwhile, are unchanged from the first leg with Nahki Wells and James Hanson starting in the final third. It is understood that the League Two side have brought 6,000 fans with them this evening. The away side get the action underway.

2 minStrong start from the away side with Nahki Wells collecting possession out wide before driving past the challenge of Delph, who pulls the striker down in the process. The resulting free kick is whipped into the penalty area by Gary Jones, but Ciaran Clark is on hand to head clear before setting up a break.

4 minIt must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium this evening and that is credit to both sets of supporters. It has been an all-action start with neither team gaining any real control of the possession. Hanson threatens for Bradford down the right, but his cross is blocked by Matthew Lowton and Villa have possession in their own half.

6 minHalf-chance for Villa as Charles N'Zogbia fires a high cross into the penalty area towards Benteke, but the striker can only head his effort wide of the post. Bradford threaten down the other end as Will Atkinson attempts to thread a pass behind the Villa defence, but the danger is cleared, while Villa force a free kick of their own moments later.

8 minVilla have just started to take control of the tempo with the supporters driving them towards the Bradford goal. Ireland takes hold of possession out wide before driving a low cross into the box, but the danger is cleared. A header from Benteke is met by Lowton moments later, but his effort is over the target. It is all happening here.

10 minVilla continue to push forward with both full-backs prepared to attack down each wing. However, the League Two outfit have thus far managed to quell the early danger. You just get the feeling that if Villa manage to score an early goal, then they will be the favourites to advance. However, a sloppy pass from Bannan presents the ball to Hines as the Bradford supporters drive their team into the opposing half.

11 minThe pressure continues as Benteke evades two challenges before driving into the box, but Carl McArdle just manages to beat Agbonlahor to the ball in order to clear. N'Zogbia continues to force the issue as he drives a high cross into the box, but it is just too long and finally Bradford have some respite. Such a high-tempo start to this match.

13 minHalf-chance for the away side this time as Hanson meets a high free kick from Jones, but the striker can only place his header over the crossbar from some distance. The positive thing for the away side is that the experienced forward has won the vast majority of headers against the Villa defence thus far. Little under 13 minutes played and the score remains 0-0.

15 minThe fact that Villa have had 75% of the possession inside the opening 15 minutes is a clear indication of how the match has fared thus far. However, Bradford have impressed in defence with the danger being cleared on each occasion. Meanwhile, first sign of frustration from the home supporters as Vlaar plays a long pass straight out of play.

17 minThe home side continue to cause problems as Agbonlahor drives into the penalty area, but once more his low pass is cleared by McArdle, who has been simply sensational thus far. The pressure continues as Villa force two corners in quick succession, but neither brings the breakthrough goal. Meanwhile, Benteke heads a powerful effort at Matt Duke moments later.

19 minAnother half-chance for the home side as Delph picks up possession before driving into the Bradford half and firing a powerful effort on goal, but it just moves high of the crossbar. It is all Villa at the moment with N'Zogbia and Ireland also driving forward from midfield, but Bradford continue to resist the threat as Darby dives into a challenge with Agbonlahor.

21 minBradford remain camped on the edge of their own box and they resist another attack as Lowton fires a high ball into the area, but it is just too long for Benteke. Imagine the atmosphere inside the stadium if Bradford could nick one on the counter. In truth, this match has gone just as expected with 21 minutes on the clock. The first goal is simply everything in this type of game.

23 minAnother half-chance for the home side as Agbonlahor picks up possession just inside the Bradford box before turning and striking an effort on goal, but Duke is more then equal to the danger once more. The threat continues as Bennett whips a low cross into the box, but this time Curtis Good, who is on loan from Newcastle, thrashes clear.

24 minGOAL! Aston Villa 1-0 Bradford City (Benteke)

24 minVilla finally make the breakthrough as Benteke meets a high cross from Lowton before flicking his effort into the back of the net. What a massive moment that is in the context of this tie. Villa are on the attack once more with Lowton, but this time the danger is cleared. Simply one-way traffic.

26 minVilla continue to work the ball from left to right along the edge of the Bradford penalty area. As things stand, Bradford would still advance to the final. However, another Villa goal at this stage would take them to Wembley. Incredible atmosphere inside the stadium as the supporters continue to sing their hearts out.

28 minRare half-chance for the away side as Wells picks up possession before firing an effort from outside the box, but it was always moving wide of the post. It is going to take something like that to pull the League Two side back into this match. Villa have the ball in the back of the net once more as Ireland converts from close range, but the offside flag is raised.

30 minAnother long-range strike comes from N'Zogbia, but Jones follows the winger along the edge of the box and is able to quell the danger for a corner. The resulting set piece is met by the head of Benteke, but this time the Belgian can only head over the crossbar. Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining.

32 minI know that Bradford are a League Two side, but they simply have to start putting some sort of possession together. They showed that they can play against Villa in the first leg and they have to show some of that quality as this match advances. At the moment they are hanging on as Villa continue to pass and probe outside the box.

34 minSAVE! It's goalkeeping of the very highest order from Duke as the Bradford stopper makes a wonderful save to deny a powerful strike from N'Zogbia. The resulting corner also causes problems, but the danger is headed clear by Good. Bradford are hanging on at the moment make no mistake about it. It is a long time since they came out of their own half.

36 minA rare chance for Bradford to exert some sort of pressure as Jones fires a high free kick into the penalty area, Hanson is up to make the challenge with Vlaar, but the powerful defender wins the battle and the danger is cleared. Bradford really need to keep the score at 1-0 from now until the half-time period. Another goal at this stage would be difficult to recover from.

38 minThe tempo has just been interrupted with a host of fouls in the past few minutes, with Villa's high balls into the penalty area being dealt with by the Bradford defence. Wells attempts to break down the other end following a long pass from Doyle, but Bannan is across on the cover and the danger is cleared.

40 minSAVE! Again it's wonderful goalkeeping from Duke as the Bradford goalkeeper pushes an Ireland effort over the crossbar. The resulting set piece also provides problems as Benteke meets the cross, but his header is over the crossbar. Little over five minutes of the half remaining.

42 minVilla continue to pass and probe outside the Bradford penalty area with both full-backs providing width and numbers in each attack. However, the away side have just managed to stem the flow in the past few moments with Wells and Hanson winning free kicks in the Villa half. This match is so delicately poised as we approach the interval.

44 minBradford simply cannot keep hold of possession with each clearance coming straight back with interest. However, bar a late showing in this half, they will be able to regroup at the interval still ahead in the tie. A reminder that 2-0 would be enough for the home side to progress to the final this evening.

45 minHalf-chance for Benteke late in the half as the Belgian ghosts in at the far post, but he just bundles it wide. Meanwhile, Wells come close with a curling effort down the other end. The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional one minute of football at the end of the half. Villa are on the attack once more.

45 min+1HALF-TIME: Aston Villa 1-0 Bradford City (2-3 on aggregate)

8.33pmSo there we have it. An enthralling half of football is brought to an end with Villa leading 1-0 on the evening courtesy of a strike from Benteke after 24 minutes. However, as it stands Bradford will still advance to the final, to play the winner of Swansea City versus Chelsea.

8.37pmIn truth, it has been just about as one-sided as you could possibly imagine with Villa dominating not only the possession, but the chances. Bradford goalkeeper Duke has been forced into making two top-draw saves, while Shay Given down the other end has just watched the action unfold.

8.41pmJust to clarify the situation. Away goals do indeed count double in the League Cup, but only extra-time. As it stands Bradford would advance 3-2 on aggregate, but another goal for Villa would place them in the driving seat due to their late strike in the first leg. It is do delicately poised.

8.45pmLet's just take a moment to look at the benches this evening. Villa have a host of options on the sideline with Darren Bent, Brett Holman and Andreas Weimann all capable of having an influence. Meanwhile, Bradfor could call upon Alan Connell and Blair Turgott in the second period.

46 minHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of the second period. No changes for either side at the interval which is not all that surprising at this stage of the match. Be sure to remain with us for the entirety of the action, whether that be another 45 minutes, or extra-time and beyond. Villa get the second half underway.

48 minVilla had 72% possession in that first period which is not a surprise. They have started the second half in the ascendancy with N'Zogbia and Bannan both attacking from midfield, but strong Bradford defending clears the danger, for the moment anyway. Anything could happen in this half.

49 minCHANCE! Glorious opportunity for Benteke to score his second of the evening as the powerful Belgian meets a cross from Delph, but he can only head his effort wide of the target. However, the pressure remains with Villa passing and probing along the edge of the box. Bradford simply need to get out here, but they can't.

51 minAnother half-chance comes for the home side as Vlaar strikes a powerful effort from the edge of the area, but the wall manages to block the danger. Again it's good work from Benteke moments later as the Belgian rises to win a header inside the box, but Duke comes out to gather the danger. It is going to be a long second period for the League Two outfit.

53 minJust a hint of snow in the air in Birmingham as Bradford launch a rare attack with Darby, but it does not last long as Bannan comes across to clear the danger. Hines manages to take possession away from Bennett down the right, but the Bradford striker gives away a free kick moments later and the home side have the ball once more. Time is still very much on Villa's side with around 40 minutes of football left to play.

55 minN'Zogbia continues to cause problems as he cuts inside before striking a powerful effort towards goal, but Darby manages to block the danger. However, Hines has certainly come into the game in the last few minutes with the speedy winger winning another free kick for the away side. They really need a spell like this. Meanwhile, the snow is starting to become heavier with each passing moment.

55 minGOAL! Aston Villa 1-1 Bradford City (Hanson)

56 minBradford level! Wonderful scenes at Villa Park as Hanson meets a corner before thumping his header into the back of the net. That is simply sensational from the striker. He had only scored twice in his previous 27 games, but what a time to register a rare goal. Villa's defence causes them problems once more.

58 minHines certainly has to be credited for his role in that goal. The former West Ham attacker won the corner which led to the Hanson header and in truth he had no right to win it. It was poor defending from the home side. The Bradford fans are loving this at the moment as they suggest that Lambert "is getting sacked in the morning".

60 minWhat an incredible 30 minutes of football we have on our hands. It just isn't quite happening for Villa at the moment as another cross drifts out of play for a goal kick. Bradford attempt to launch a counter attack with Wells, but the young forward is stopped in his tracks as the end-to-end football continues.

62 minHalf-chance for the home side as Bennett fires a wonderful cross into the penalty area, but it moves out for a goal kick much to the frustration of the home supporters. Is it time for Bent to be introduced? Some fans appear to think so. What an incredible evening of football. This is what it is all about. Can Bradford do it?

64 minBradford create a chance of their own as Nathan Doyle strikes an effort from outside the box, but Given was always comfortable in dealing with the danger. Meanwhile, Villa do indeed make the obvious change with Bent coming on to replace Bannan. Villa have to go for it in the final stages of this match. They have to score twice in order to take it into extra-time.

66 minCHANCE! OH MY WORD! Wonderful opportunity for Hanson to add his second of the evening as he finds himself with a free header some five yards from goal, but he heads wide of the post. What an incredible moment in this match. Meanwhile, Benteke shows frustration down the other end as another attack breaks down.

68 minReally is end-to-end football at the moment with Bradford pushing forward in the second period. This is much more of a contest than in the opening half. However, Villa continue to look dangerous with Benteke and Bent combining outside the box. Agbonlahor also threatens with a mazy run, but Jones is across to quell the threat.

70 minCHANCE! Another chance comes and goes for Villa as Ireland meets a low cross from Bent, but the midfielder can only turn his effort round the post. Still no movement on the Bradford bench, but there is no signs that they are starting to tie. Little over 20 minutes of football remaining at Villa Park.

72 minAnother half-chance for the home side as Delph strikes an effort from outside the box, but it deflects off Agbonlahor and moves behind for a goal kick. Meanwhile, the home side make their second change of the match as Bennett is replaced by Weimann. Bradford also make a change with Garry Thompson, who scored against Arsenal, replacing Hines.

74 minRight, we have little over 15 minutes of football remaining and Villa need to score twice in order to take this tie into extra-time. However, Bradford appear more than capable of adding their second with Hanson and Wells winning a host of free kicks in the opposing half. Villa are in trouble here make no mistake about that, but this match is far from over.

75 minCROSSBAR! Bradford strike the crossbar with a close-range effort as Thompson finishes off a free-flowing move, but he can only hit the crossbar. Villa advance down the other end with Delph, but his low cross simply does not fall for Benteke in the area. End-to-end football here.

77 minThat just out sums up the second period for Villa as Delph slices an effort wide of the target from just outside the box. The pressure continues as Agbonlahor drives down the right before whipping a cross into the box, but McArdle is on hand to head clear once more. Villa need to score twice it is as simple as that.

79 minAll one-way traffic at the moment as Villa continue to throw high balls into the penalty area with Benteke the target, but this time it is Darby with the clearing header. More frustration arrives as Benteke is ruled offside moments later. Little over 10 minutes of normal time remaining.

81 minAnother Villa attack breaks down as Weimann fires a high cross towards the back post, but it flows out of play as the minutes continue to tick on. It is the Bradford fans that can be heard. Their team is close, but one Villa goal at this stage and the final moments could be ever so nervy. Bent attempts to beat the offside trap, but he is ruled offside.

83 minAnother Bradford corner causes problems as Jones floats his cross towards Hanson, but the striker is adjudged to have fouled Vlaar in the process. Villa launch an attack down the other end, but once more it breaks down and the supporters are certainly airing their displeasure. However, there is still time. They have to keep believing.

85 minBradford simply are not interested in attacking at the moment as they camp on the edge of their own area. Villa continue to whip dangerous crosses into the penalty area, but the final pass is just not finding the target as the danger is cleared once more. Bradford move ever closer as the League Two outfit force another corner.

87 minLambert continues to patrol the touchline as he urges his side to pump the ball into the penalty area, but it is playing straight into Bradford's hands as their defenders continue to clear the danger. Wells attempts to break on the counter, but the young winger cannot keep hold of possession and the home side attack once more.

89 minMeanwhile, Bradford make their second change of the evening as Blair Turgott replaces Wells, who has run his heart out this evening. The League Two outfit are one minute plus stoppage time away from securing their spot in the final. What a truly sensational result this would be.

89 minGOAL! Aston Villa 2-2 Bradford City (Weimann)

89 minVilla score their second of the evening as Weimann latches onto a loose ball before rounding the goalkeeper and finishing into the back of the net. There is an escape route on for Villa now. But how much stoppage time will be added?

90 minThe fourth official indicates that we will play an additional four minutes of added time. It is all hands to the pump now as Given carries the ball to the half-way line. Meanwhile, Turgott appears to handle in the penalty area, but no decision is given.

90 min+2Half-chance for Bent as the England striker comes close to meeting a cross in the penalty area, but it just eludes the forward at the vital moment. However, the pressure continues with the home side pumping the ball into the area at each opportunity.

90 min+4Villa are forced back into their own half before Atkinson finds Thompson, who wins a free kick in the corner. That is incredible experience from the forward. Delph dives in and is awarded the yellow card, what a terrible moment from the youngster. Corner Braford with little under one minute remaining.

90 min+4FULL-TIME: Aston Villa 2-1 Bradford City (Bradford advance 4-3 on aggregate)

9.37pmBRADFORD ADVANCE TO WEMBLEY! Incredible scenes here as the League Two outfit secure their spot in the final of the League Cup. Incredible scenes at Villa Park.

9.39pmThe Bradford supporters can now book their London hotels. Villa took the lead after 24 minutes through Benteke, but Hanson levelled the scores on the evening. A late goal from Weimann gave the home side hope, but it was not enough.

9.40pmThanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to remain with us for all the reaction from this incredible evening. Goodnight!

Bradford City's Nahki Wells opens the scoring against Aston Villa on January 8, 2013
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