Liverpool slip up to Aston Villa
Written By: Robert Halter
In the second of April’s F.A. Cup semi finals at Wembley Stadium, the prize of a final against Arsenal on the 30th May 2015, awaited the winners of Aston Villa vs Liverpool in the 134th edition of the world famous competition. On eleven minutes, Simon Mignolet made an important tip over, after Charles N’Zogbia, unleashed a long range blast, after Villa’s captain, Fabian Delph, had produced a neat lay off, to give Liverpool an early indication of their intent. Villa were dealt a body blow on twenty four minutes when Nathan Baker pulled up with a hamstring and was replaced by Jores Okore. But it was the Reds who were playing in yellow that got the breakthrough on the half hour mark, as Philippe Coutinho started the move and from a pull back by Jordan Henderson, a mistake by Okore, was snapped up by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, then as Delph gave the ball away to Lazar Markovic, it was latched upon by Joe Allen and from a threaded pass by Raheem Sterling, it was run, skip and finish, as Coutinho, tucked the ball past the reach of Shay Given. But within six minutes, Villa were back in the game, as Jack Grealish was orchestrator and from a finely judged left wing cross by Delph, top marksman, Christian Benteke, struck a low drive past Mignolet’s despairing dive, into the right side of the goal. On forty minutes, Liverpool looked for a quick reply but Dejan Lovren miscued his header, from a corner by Gerrard. Before the second half, Liverpool replaced Lazar Markovic with Mario Balotelli. But it was Villa that were all smiles on fifty four minutes, after Benteke’s back heel left Grealish to expose the Liverpool rear guard, and Delph charged through to slot the ball home into the heart of the goal mouth. Villa made a second change of Scott Sinclair for N’Zogbia, while the Reds replaced Allen with Glen Johnson. The Villa hearts were racing, when Delph clipped Coutinho near the edge of the box but from Gerrard’s free kick, the safe hands of Given, collected the strike on seventy nine minutes. For the final change in the claret and blue, Joe Cole took the place of Grealish, to face his former Reds. Time was running out for Liverpool, as Lovren headed over Gerrard’s corner. Then on eighty six minutes, Keiran Richardson went to Villa’s rescue to head off the line, Gerrard’s goal bound header from Coutinho’s corner, and to compound the Liverpool misery, Balotelli had a goal chalked out for offside as Gerrard’s floated ball was marginally unable to breach the Villa offside trap. As a last resort, Rickie Lambert replaced Alberto Moreno, in the final Liverpool change. At the end, the Reds rallied as Sterling blasted over from an incisive pass from Emre Can and then Balotelli skied a header from a Jordan Henderson right wing cross but Villa held on to book their date with destiny with the opportunity to win the F.A. Cup for the first time since 1957.