Leicester 1-1 Aston Villa: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Foxes Struggle for Draw in Semi Final

Leicester and Aston Villa's Carabao Cup semi final is finely poised ahead of the second leg after Wednesday's clash ended in a 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium.

The Foxes dominated the opening 25 minutes and enjoyed over 70% possession, so it was surprising to see the visitors take the lead with their first shot of the game. Anwar El Ghazi whipped an excellent cross to the far post and Frederic Guilbert stole ahead of Ben Chilwell to poke home on 28 minutes.

Frederic Guilbert,Jack Grealish,Douglas Luiz

Brendan Rodgers' side were lucky not to be 2-0 down just before half time, as Ezri Konsa connected with Jack Grealish's excellent free kick only to see his header crash back off the cross bar.

James Maddison was twice denied by Erik Nyland as Leicester continued to dominate second-half possession, but it was Kelechi Iheanacho who finally broke Villa's resistance in the 74th minute.

Hamza Choudhury pinched the ball from Douglas Luiz, Jamie Vardy touched it into the Nigerian's path and he drove into the box before making it 1-1.

Kelechi Iheanacho

The home fans thought ​Vardy had secured the victory late on, but his shot rippled the side netting before rolling behind as the cheers fizzled out.


Key Talking Point

Leicester's dressing room would have been tinged with disappointment at half time as Brendan Rodgers' players failed to make their dominance count.

Villa often slipped into a 5-4-1 shape without the ball, but there was still plenty of space to be found between their centre halves and behind the wing backs.


The hosts only managed to this exploit uncertainty twice, resulting in a blocked Chilwell cross and a saved Jamie Vardy shot. Their failure to convert possession into chances was a symptom of poor quality in the final third and an uncharacteristic inability to make that killer pass. 

Choudhury's half-time introduction enabled Maddison and Youri Tielemans more time on the ball in dangerous areas, forcing Villa deeper and the sheer weight of pressure eventually told.

However, breaking Villa's resilience for a second time proved too difficult for ​the Foxes and Rodgers has plenty to ponder ahead of the second leg - he can't afford to get his team selection wrong twice.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Schmeichel (6); Söyüncü (6), Evans (7), Fuchs (6); Pereira (7), Tielemans (6), Praet (6), Maddison (7), Chilwell (6); Pérez (6), Vardy (7).

Substitutes: Choudhury (8*), Iheanacho (7), Albrighton (6).

Ezri Konsa,Hamza Choudhury

STAR PLAYER - It's fair to say Choudhury's introduction altered the course of the game, following a pedestrian first half from Leicester. Sitting in front of the back three, he collected and carried the ball, helping the team play much higher up the pitch.

It was the platform the creative players around him were crying out for and gave the wing-backs even more license to fly up the flanks. Arguably, it was this second-half overload in Villa's half that enabled the hosts to get back into the game despite not playing to their best.

His tenacity and quick thinking enabled him to steal the ball for Leicester's equaliser, as he was quickest to react from a poor Konsa free kick and capped a fine 45 minutes by beginning their most crucial move.


Key Talking Point

It might have been born from necessity and not choice, but the 3-4-3 with a fluid attacking trio worked well for ​Villa in the opening 45 minutes - with the caveat that Leicester lacked a final ball and failed to make individual errors count.

Grealish and El Ghazi had been tasked with occupying the central position in turns, with their rotation from the left flank causing Leicester trouble on a few occasions. When Villa broke there was often space for them on that wing, highlighted by the opening goal - with El Ghazi's cross coming after a positional switch between the two.

They were forced deeper and deeper in the second half, restricting their front three's involvement and inviting pressure on the back five. Eventually they paid the price and one of those individual errors proved costly. However, they regained their composure and find themselves very much in contention ahead of the home tie.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Nyland (7), Konsa (6), Mings (8), Hause (6); Guilbert (7), Douglas Luiz (6), Nakamba (5), Taylor (6); Trézéguet (6), El Ghazi (7), Grealish (9*).

Substitutes: Hourihane (6), Vassilev (5), Lansbury (5).

STAR PLAYER - As he has been for the entirety of the 2019/20 season, Grealish was Aston Villa's top performer on Wednesday evening - plus, the Villa captain can now add being a top notch false nine to his CV!

Jack Grealish

In fairness, he also played as a deep-lying playmaker, box-to-box midfielder and left winger at the King Power, dropping deep to collect the ball before driving his team up the pitch or spraying passes that switched the play. 

Such is his positional intelligence and movement, he found space and teammates wherever he popped up. 

With Leicester so dominant in the possession stakes, his composure and impressive close control on the ball was vital to breaking the hosts' momentum at times.

As Villa enjoyed the better of the first half's closing stages, Grealish danced his way around four opponents on the touch line and will have given Gareth Southgate something to consider from the stands.

Looking Ahead

Leicester's bid to secure a Champions League spot continues with matches against three sides currently in the Premier League's bottom half. Home fixtures with Southampton and West Ham take place either side of a trip to Burnley.

Aston Villa, meanwhile, host Manchester City on Sunday, before an important away trip to Brighton.

Source : 90min