BIRMINGHAM, United
Kingdom
– Trezeguet struck deep into stoppage time to send Aston Villa into
their first League Cup final for a decade with a 2-1 win over Leicester on
Tuesday to progress 3-2 on aggregate.

Matt Targett’s early opener put Villa in front, but
Leicester enjoyed the majority of the chances and finally found a way past
Orjan Nyland when Kelechi Iheanacho levelled 18 minutes from time.

However, Villa snatched victory and a trip to Wembley on
March 1 to face Manchester City or Manchester United when Trezeguet connected
perfectly with fellow Egyptian Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross three minutes into
added time.

“It was emotional for everyone when that goal goes
in,” said Villa boss Dean Smith, a lifelong fan of the club. “Taking
this club to Wembley, I will be a very proud man.”

Defeat ends Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers’s unbeaten run of
31 straight domestic cup matches after a dominant spell at Celtic and he rued
his side’s inability to turn their dominance into goals.

“I thought we were excellent in the game. We played
with a nice control and composure, but their goalkeeper has made some
outstanding saves,” said Rodgers.

“I’m gutted for my players because we put so much into
the game. I thought at the end there was only one team was going to win it, but
we switch off at the last minute.”

– Nyland saves the day –

The visitors started with top scorer Jamie Vardy on the
bench as he was eased back into action after a glute injury, but the Foxes
still blasted out of the traps.

Iheanacho was denied in the first of a string of big saves
by Nyland in the Villa goal inside the first three minutes.

James Maddison then had a hat-trick of efforts, two of which
brought saves from Nyland.

However, it was Villa who struck first when the impressive
Jack Grealish teed up Targett to fire across Kasper Schmeichel 12 minutes in.

Nyland may not even have played if Villa’s new number one
Pepe Reina had been fit to play, but the Norwegian was inspired as he then
produced his best save of the night to turn Youri Tielemans’s piledriver onto
the bar.

“He (Reina) wasn’t fit so I didn’t have to make that
decision,” added Smith on who would have played. “I knew the quality
Orjan has got.”

Maddison was furious he was not awarded a penalty moments
later when he saw another effort repelled by the arm of Marvelous Nakamba.

– ‘Love a trip to Wembley’ –

Mbwana Samatta was making his Villa debut after a £8.5
million ($11 million) switch from Genk, but his first experience of Villa Park
is not one the Tanzanian will remember fondly as he somehow failed to turn home
another brilliant Grealish delivery early in the second half.

That could have proved the knockout blow for Leicester, but
instead they were very much back in the tie when an explosive burst from Harvey
Barnes teed up Iheanacho to finish.

Just when both sides seemed to be preparing for extra-time,
Leicester were hit with a sucker punch when Elmohamady’s cross was volleyed
into the bottom corner by his compatriot.

Trezeguet had to be hauled from the field by Villa security
personnel after he was mobbed in a pitch invasion following the final whistle
as the home fans celebrated a famous win wildly having spent the last three
seasons in the Championship.

“I love a trip to Wembley. We’re looking forward to
it,” said Grealish, who has been instrumental to Villa’s improved form in
the past few weeks.

“It shows what character we’ve got in the team. We were
in a sticky patch before Christmas –- we couldn’t string four passes together,
never mind win a game, but we have started the new year in great form.”

The exception to that upturn was a 6-1 hammering at the
hands of City and it is Pep Guardiola’s men who are likely to lie in wait for
Villa in the final as they hold a 3-1 first leg lead heading into the second
leg of their semi-final with United on Wednesday.

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