Aston Villa claimed victory and bragging rights over Birmingham City in the third round of the League Cup last night. The first half saw a fairly equal game, with Birmingham arguably looking the slightly stronger of the two teams, although neither goalkeeper was really tested. There were some heavy tackles, but the referee looked to play advantage where possible and keep the game going.
Sherwood brought on Jack Grealish and Jordan Ayew at half time and it had the desired impact as Aston Villa started to control the game and look threatening, something they had not really achieved throughout the first half. Rudy Gestede broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute with a powerful header into the corner of the net from around 10 yards out following a cross from the left wing. After the goal, Birmingham started to come back into the game again and should have really levelled the scores through Maghoma, but he could only roll the ball softly to Guzan.
Sherwood’s changes at half time made all the difference, with Aston Villa looking more balanced and threatening. Clark in midfield might have limited the chances Birmingham were creating, but it was also doing the same for Aston Villa. The substitutes (Grealish in particular) were a constant threat and provided an out ball for the Aston Villa defence. Birmingham look set to have a good season, although they will need to be more ruthless in the final third; for Aston Villa, it looks as though it could be another long, difficult season.