Wow! Villa stunned Liverpool at Wembley Stadium, coming from behind to sweep past a shell shocked Liverpool.
Villa started the better side and settled down quickly and surprised Liverpool with quick short passes keeping possession and dictating the midfield.
When the Liverpool defenders had the ball they were quickly closed down and forced into going long to the front man. Sterling was their only striker and him trying to win headers against Vlaar and Baker was always a huge ask. Meanwhile, Benteke was having an easy time winning the high balls from Villa’s defenders clearances with Delph, Grealish, N’Zogbia and Cleverley always looking for the flick ons.
It was hard to believe Villa was the underdog with 5 first teamers out injured and one dropped to allow Given to carry on his FA cup run. Villa had 2 recognized defenders on the pitch with two midfielders helping out back there and of course Baker got his usual early game injury that forced him off and Okore on.
This spurred Liverpool on and with Villa still sorting itself out Pool took full advantage. Delph and Okore failed to clear the ball and the ball was played back through to Coutinho who’s poor shot clipped Okore and went in.
Immediately, Villa went into panic mode and Pool looked like they could blow the game wide open. Eventually Villa calmed down and went back to playing lovely one touch stuff and all seemed right with the world, except for the fact Liverpool was winning, enter Grealish, Delph and Benteke. The trio tore the defence open with a lightning break with gorgeous touches usually reserved for top 4 teams or Champions league sides and Delph slid a perfect ball for Benteke who hit a first time shot past Mignolet.
Villa began to look like BarceVilla and could easily have been ahead at half time.
Brendon Rodgers brought on the mercurial Ballotelli which I presumed meant that Sterling would run down the right against the struggling Richardson, but instead he decided to drop Sterling back and the England international was rendered useless for the remainder of the game.
On 50 minutes I noticed that Gerrard WAS playing after all only now on the left side to escape Delph who had owned the veteran throughout.
Villa just kept coming after Liverpool with Grealish just keeping a tight control of the ball with 3 players always around him allowing Villa to keep the ball. When Liverpool went forward Ballotelli was too lazy to stay onside and Villa dealt with him with ease.
Finally Villa got the deserved break through. Cleverley found Benteke in acres of space with a cross field pass. Benteke back-heeled to Grealish who shaped to shoot, then cut a pass inside for Delph in the area. Delph slipped past two defenders and sruck a shot off Mignolet in to the net.
It was BarceVilla again as Villa tore Liverpool to shreds and kept wasting chances with bad shots or bad final ball.
For Liverpool, Rodgers changed his formation 5 times without success. N’Zogbia and Grealish have not played a full match yet this season, so Sherwood threw on Cole and Sinclair. Rodgers responded with fear more than fight, putting on Johnson a right back to counter Sinclair’s pace.
Although the two subs had no impact, Villa’s defence held on well but survived a late scare from Lovren’s header that went over.
The whistle came and Sherwood ignored his players to celebrate with the fans who were so vocal throughout it was like Villa was at home.
The cup final awaits, Arsenal next. No Fear.