We now know the identity of the two teams who contest the first trophy of the season over in England with Aston Villa and Manchester City booking their tickets to the 2020 Carabao Cup Final on March 1.
Both teams faced some form of adversity on their respective routes to the final, but in the second leg of their respective semi-finals, they were able hold on and ensure that they’d be the ones heading to Wembley.
One more step
Aston Villa came into the game against Leicester City following a 1-1 draw in the first leg against the Foxes, which was considered to be a pretty positive result for the relegation strugglers. Matt Targett was able to give them an early lead in front of a raucous Villa Park crowd, only for Kelechi Iheanacho to equalize with less than 20 minutes remaining – maintaining his superb record against the Midlands side.
Then, in the depths of injury time, Trezeguet was able to meet a nice ball at the back post and slot in what proved to be the winner.
Villa boss Dean Smith was understandably delighted that he was able to lead his team back to Wembley once again.
“I certainly let myself go when we scored that goal,” said Smith.
“We know how good Leicester are, and have been this season, but we made it an entertaining game, so I’m very proud of the performance and the effort that the players put in.
“We’ve got a proud history in this competition and if we could go and lift this trophy for a sixth time as a club then I would be a very proud man.
“We know it’s going to be tough against either Manchester United or Manchester City. But the hard part is getting to a domestic cup final and we have managed to do that against a very good Leicester team.”
Getting the job done
On the flip side you had Manchester City who were comfortable 3-1 leaders heading into the second leg after their impressive display against rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Alas, while Nemanja Matic did manage to give the Red Devils the lead and pulled the aggregate score back to 3-2, United didn’t really take advantage of that, with Matic going from hero to zero in the second half courtesy of his red card.
Pep Guardiola was pleased to see his team reach the Carabao Cup Final for the third straight year, but he knows there’s still work to be done.
“Over 180 minutes we were better than United,” said Guardiola. “We created chances to score a lot of goals and didn’t convert. We need to learn to be more clinical.
“We played a side with incredible physicality. The goal was from a set-piece. The first time they shot on target. In both games, we were better.”
Ilkay Gundogan also remained very calm in the wake of the result.
“We should have scored early in the first half. We should have scored at least one or two goals today but it wasn’t to be.
“The manager said before the game this is now an experience, we have to survive and overcome. I think we can improve. It is a learning process.”