Some rotations from Dean Smith — and some youth prospects on the bench — as the manager balances the Semifinal in the other cup competition and a crowded schedule in the Premier League.
Marvelous picked up a very early yellow card after he went over the ball and caught Fulham’s Joe Bryan in the ankle. The left back/winger limped off but the caution was shown to the Villa midfielder.
Jonathan Kodjia created the first chance for Villa. He weaved through two defenders — pulled it to his right foot — but the fullback from the opposite side came across and prevented a shot.
Neil Taylor was Villa’s second yellow card in the 21’. He passed the ball to a Fulham player — then tripped him to stop a counter attack.
The first shot from either side came just short of the quarter-hour mark. El Ghazi and Hourihane shared a few passes and in the end Kodjia tried is luck with his left foot from a tight angle. He went for power and he couldn’t keep it on target.
With a minute left in the half Jota made his first impact on the match. Following a free kick the winger found himself at the top of the box. He chested the ball perfectly — and first a shot. But it was always going wide.
It the one minute of added time — Villa had their best chance of the half. Kodjia with a perfect pass to El Ghazi running into the box. But the keeper was quick enough to get down to the side footed shot. The whistle blew after the save — and even the commentators weren’t sure if the flag was put up. With the advantage of replay during the break — he was onside.
But the two chances in the final minutes put a bit of a shine on a rough looking half — which is understandable with rotated squads.
Fulham picked up an early yellow card — McDonald elbowed Lansbury in the face. It looked accidental. But easy call for the referee.
It was the hosts on the counter attack that broke the deadlock. El Ghazi drove into the box and it was defended well. Knockaert got the ball down his left — he was allowed to cut in and struck a beautiful and unsaveable strike to make it 1-0.
A minute later Fulham could have doubled their lead if not a great save from Nyland. This time it was Joe Bryan with the shot that bounced right in from of the keeper — who palmed it wide.
Jota — who had not been involved enough — made a perfect pass over the top to Kodjia. The big man created the room to let the ball roll through and then lobbed it over the keeper. El Ghazi tapped it in from six inches out to take the goal. I’m better the forward will have a few works about nicking the goal but El Ghazi knew there was a defender in the area and needed to make sure.
Jota turned shooter a minute later — forcing a good save from Rodak. It was a run of quality from the winger.
After the goal Fulham brought on Harry Arter. Villa sat back and let the hosts control possession. And the sub hit a perfect shot from 25/30 yards out with 15 minutes to play. It looped right over Nyland — who had no chance.
After the second goal — Dean Smith made his first change. Trezeguet on for Jota. A few minutes later Smith brought on young American Indiana Vessilev for Nakamba.
Fulham continued to dominate possession after the two changes. The final chance was made with five minutes left — Jacob Ramsey on for El Ghazi.
Villa were pushed into their own end for most fo the final 10 mins and the five added minutes. Nyland made a wonderful save one-on-one with Knockaert. He goes his left hand up to stop a chip.
In the end it was two special goals for Fulham that see Villa — once again — pushed out of the FA Cup. Third round exit for four years in a row now. Rough.