Aston Villa 2 Bradford City 1
The Bantams astonishingly confirmed their place in the Capital One Cup Final with a narrow second leg defeat at Villa Park on Tuesday evening.
James Hanson's header early in the first half was enough to give City the title of being the only 4th tier club to take their place in a Wembley Final and the first to take their place in a League Cup final since Rochdale lost to Norwich City over two legs in 1962.
The hosts, backed by a sea of Claret & Blue, were making all the early groundwork and were searching intensely for the opening goal. Matt Lowton didn't expect the ball to arrive when Christian Benteke headed Charles N'Zogbia's delivery across goal and the ball went behind for a goal kick after striking the head of Lowton inside the area.
James Hanson was presented with a half chance of testing Shay Given when Gary Jones picked him out with a free kick, but the big frontman could only direct his effort harmlessly wide of the target.
Charles N'Zogbia was, like in the first leg, looking a major threat when cutting inside from the flank and delivering dangerous crosses into the area. This threat is always handy to have when Benteke is lurking in the penalty area and the Frenchman picked out the Belgian with a cross, but he could only head straight at Matt Duke.
Bradford born Fabian Delph was the next to take part in an Aston Villa barrage when he launched a fizzing shot from 25 yards that rose enough to sail over the bar and fail to test Duke, but it seemed only a matter of time before the hosts would break the deadlock.
Soon after, they did exactly that. Young full back Joe Bennett was allowed too much time and space to cut inside and deliver a cross that found Benteke unmarked at the back post and he planted a side footed volley from close range beyond Matt Duke to send the home faithful into hysterics and re-light Aston Villa's Wembley dream.
Stephen Ireland thought he'd levelled the aggregate scoreline a few minutes later when he slotted home from close range but the linesman immediately flagged for offside and replays later showed that he was correct with his decision.
Charles N'Zogbia cut inside from the right hand side with success yet again and he launched a fierce rising drive that looked to be nestling into the top corner but for the superb finger-tip intervention of Matt Duke.
Duke was being sternly tested once more shortly after when Stephen Ireland hit a dipping shot that looked to be dropping in under the crossbar but the 35 year old Yorkshireman made sure Villa weren't to get a second just yet by pushing his effort over the bar.
On the stroke of half time Nahki Wells almost grabbed The Bantams an equaliser on the night when he attempted a curling shot that just lacked that extra bit of curl as it flashed half a yard wide of the target with Shay Given a spectator.
The threat of goalscorer Christian Benteke continued into the second half and he glanced Matt Lowton's delivery dangerously across the area, but it lacked a touch to force a goal bound effort much to the relief of the 6,500 away supporters.
The away end erupted 10 minutes into the second half when Gary Jones' second successive corner was powered home by the head of James Hanson after he escaped the attention of Ron Vlaar inside the area. The Bantams had grabbed the away goal they sought after and Villa were in serious trouble all of a sudden.
City were now bursting with confidence and Villa were looking desperate and it was the visitors who broke away with pace to launch an attack; the ball came out to Zavon Hines on the edge of the area but his shot was tame and comfortably gathered by Shay Given.
Hanson spurned a glorious chance to double his goal tally for the evening when Nathan Doyle's superb cross from the right hand side found him unmarked in the area, but he couldn't direct his free header and the ball was skewed wide.
Stephen Ireland came close to scoring, not for the first time during the game. Matt Lowton threaded a pass through to substitute Darren Bent inside the area and his low centre was put wide of the target inside the area by the first time side-footed shot of Ireland.
The Bantams were allowed much more freedom to play in the second half and Stephen Darby capitalised on the space in the channels to race forward; he delivered a low cross into the box that was met by a firm first time shot by Garry Thompson, he beat Given all ends up with his effort but the ball cannoned back off the crossbar.
Many fans would say 'City never do it the easy way' and when Villa grabbed a late goal In the dying seconds of the 90 minutes, the atmosphere changed immediately. A long ball forward saw Andreas Weimann get the wrong side of Rory McArdle and round Matt Duke to tap into the empty goal and put his side within a goal of forcing extra-time.
The Bantams braved the 4 additional minutes successfully to ensure scenes of sheer delight at the final whistle. The players raced towards the away ends and the fans erupted into scenes of joyous disbelief as they knew that Bradford City of League 2 would be playing in The Capital One Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 24th February!