Aston Villa booked their place in the final against Chelsea with an extra-time win against the Portuguese outfit.
Aston Villa have made it an all English NextGen Series final by claiming an extra-time victory over the tournament favourites Sporting Lisbon in Como.
After the entertaining match between Arsenal and Chelsea there was always going to be a great difficulty living up to the expectations of yet another thrilling tie and that proved true in the first half where neither side managed to stamp their authority on the game.
Sporting certainly had the more technically gifted players but had star man Carlos Mane out of the team; which levelled things up considering Villa were without top-scorer Mikey Drennan.
It was the second half when the game really sprung into life and after 50 minutes Samir Carruthers was hauled down in the penalty box. Graham Burke was charged with converting from the spot which he did with ease; sliding the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of Mickael Meira’s net.
Sporting soon took control of the game once again and immediately after the penalty was scored Palhinha rose up to head the ball into the back of the net; only to be wrongly called offside in one of many sceptical decisions from the Italian officials.
Iuri Medeiros was living up to his pre-game billing. He caused Villa plenty of danger in the second half and his curling left foot strike rattled the bar.
Then Villa were finally punished for allowing Sporting to present so much pressure. Medeiros swung in a delightful free kick which was powerfully headed home by Serbian substitute Luka Stojanovic for 1-1.
The game then ebbed out into extra-time when Villa immediately went to the jugular; a plan that worked.
Jack Grealish received the ball from Callum Robinson’s cross; controlled the ball superbly before chipping the Sporting keeper to make it 2-1.
At the end of the first half of extra-time Sporting were punished for their openness at the back once again. This time Grealish was the provider as Carruthers stormed into the penalty box and placed the ball into the net to set up the dream all-English final.
Here are some reactions from the players on Twitter …
Well done to the lads tonight what a preformance! Final here we come! Shock JackGrealish1 and burkie scoring too! Bout time jacko— mikey drennan (@mikeydrennan) March 29, 2013
image: © NextGen Series