Scenes of bedlam and carnage broke out at Villa Park on Tuesday night as Trézéguet’s late strike helped secure Aston Villa’s place at Wembley. The second leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal may have swung in Leicester’s favour if it weren’t for Villa’s Norwegian shot stopper Ørjan Nyland putting in a Man of the Match performance in goal.
Thousands upon thousands of Villans nervously ventured to B6 hoping for another trip to Wembley Stadium. New signing Mbwana Samatta was poised for his first start whilst Dean Smith put Nyland between the sticks after he heroically denied Leicester City the advantage in the leg. Yet Pepe Reina had done well for himself against Watford, so a few fans may have questioned the manager’s decision, further escalating their nervousness. But as the atmosphere in Villa Park continued to escalate, it was clear the supporters were prepared to back the claret and blue til the end.
Ørjan was forced into action two minutes into the fixture after parrying Kelechi Iheanacho’s powerful strike past the post. He went on to put on a superb performance throughout the second leg, agilely stopping the Foxes on numerous occasions. Aston Villa’s goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler has done a fantastic job improving the club’s ‘keepers, with Nyland as well Steer looking significantly better since his arrival. The Norwegian continually demonstrated his confidence in goal, calmly controlling the ball and accurately passing out to his teammates.
Dean Smith certainly has a dilemma on his hands in which goalkeeper to choose for the final come March. The Norwegian has been influential throughout Aston Villa’s road to Wembley, saving 90% of his opponents’ shots and only conceding two goals in three games. Yet Reina provides experience, having participated in—and won—a good number of cup finals throughout his career. Still after performing fantastically once again on this last stop on the road to Wembley, surely Nyland deserves a place in the starting XI?
Que sera, sera, what ever will be, will be, I’m certainly looking forward to another trip to Wembley!