Iheanacho strike leaves semi-final delicately poised ahead of second leg
League Cup semi-final first leg, King Power Stadium - Leicester City 1 (Iheanacho 74') Aston Villa 1 (Guilbert 28')
Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho rescued a first-leg draw for Leicester as Aston Villa defended valiantly at the King Power Stadium to leave the League Cup semi-final finely poised going into the return leg.
Leicester had eight attempts in the first half, but it was Villa who headed into the break 1-0 up when Frederic Guilbert turned in their first shot on target.
Frederic Guilbert of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the opening goal with team-mates Jack Grealish and Douglas Luiz during the Carabao Cup Semi Final match between Leicester City and Aston Villa at The King Power Stadium on January 08, 2020 in Leicester,Getty Images
It could have been two, but Ezri Konsa could only watch his header rattle the bar with Kasper Schmeichel nowhere to be seen three minutes before half-time.
Leicester huffed and puffed after the break, and eventually blew the Villa wall down thanks to two substitutes.
Hamza Choudhury, brought on at half-time, intercepted an idle Douglas Luiz, and then found Kelechi Iheanacho, who punished the error when lifting the ball over Orjan Nyland just four minutes after coming on.
Leicester chased a first-leg winner, but Villa held on, and as the old cliché goes when it comes to such affairs, it’s only half-time in the tie.
The draw means it’s essentially winner takes all, and winner takes on Manchester City in the final (probably), when the two sides meet again at Villa Park on January 28.
Villa weather the storm - Villa will be disappointed with the manner of how they conceded Leicester’s goal, but having faced 20 shots in torrential conditions, the visitors will be delighted to go back to Villa Park knowing they simply have to win to reach their first League Cup final in 10 years.
Jack Grealish of Aston Villa during the Carabao Cup Semi Final match between Leicester City and Aston Villa at The King Power Stadium on January 8, 2020 in Leicester, EnglandGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) - Villa are in nothing short of an injury crisis, but what a difference Tyrone Mings makes at the back. Since Mings returned from an injury of his own, Dean Smith has switched to three at the back with the England international steering the ship. At the King Power he made 10 clearances, led the way for blocks, and was forever barking orders at his team-mates. All in front of Gareth Southgate, too, who will be finalising his Euro 2020 squad over the coming months.
13’ - JUST WIDE! Was just writing about how not much was happening... and moments later Perez fizzes an effort just wide of the far post, which actually takes a deflection.
23’ - VARDY DENIED! So many times the Leicester forward has finished these off, but from six yards out, at an angle, Vardy's effort is straight at Nyland when you expected him to roll it into the far corner.
28’ – GOAL VILLA! After some patient build-up play, the ball is with El Ghazi out wide, and it's his cross which is met by Guilbert, who gets there ahead of Chilwell to put the visitors ahead!
42’ - OFF THE BAR! Pereira goes off for some treatment, and Leicester are a man down as Grealish whips in a wonderful ball which is met by Konsa, but his header rattles the bar with Schmeichel nowhere to be seen.
74’ – GOAL LEICESTER! Villa the masters of their own downfall here.... They have a free-kick in their own half, but Luiz is too slow when receiving the pass. He's intercepted by Choudhury and the ball is played to Iheanacho, who lifts the ball over Nyland.
82’ - SIDE NETTING! Vardy runs across Guilbert to meet Pereira's through ball - he goes for the near post but it rustles the side netting to Villa's relief.