After two up-and-down seasons, Aston Villa defender Jores Okore revels in Wembley success

Aston Villa

The first-half substitute helped Tim Sherwood's side earn an upset win in the weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

Aston Villa defender Jores Okore has told AVTV of his delight at being able to contribute to Sunday’s 2-1 FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool at Wembley Stadium.

Substitute Okore was forced into action in the 26th-minute of the match after fellow centre-back Nathan Baker came off injured but was left red-faced just four minutes later when his poor clearance led to Philippe Coutinho’s opener.

The Dane put in a flawless performance from that point on, however, as he and Ron Vlaar held firm at the back to ensure that Christian Benteke’s first-half equaliser and Fabian Delph’s 56th-mintue strike were enough to send Tim Sherwood’s side into next month’s final against Arsenal.

“I’m really glad I got this chance to go in and be a part of the game.” said Okore. “It was unlucky for Nathan that he got injured but I’m pleased that I could help the team get a win.

“We had a really good line and defended bravely. It was nice to play with Ron again, as it’s been a long time.”

For Okore, the result was also a just reward after what’s been an unsettled first two seasons at Villa, with knee ligament damage limiting him to just four appearances during his debut campaign.

After returning to action in the summer, the eight-times capped international started out this term as fifth-choice centre-back and even questioned his long-term future at the club, until a spate of defensive injuries allowed him the chance to prove his worth.

Making 21 starts between November and April, his performances alongside Ciaran Clark earned him glowing reviews but still weren’t enough for him to keep his place upon the return of Vlaar and Baker to fitness, having dropped to the bench for the past three games

However, with Clark and Baker since suffering season-ending injuries, he looks set to continue the weekend’s partnership with Vlaar for the rest of the campaign and believes support from the fans like that at the weekend will stand him in good stead for a solid run-in.

“It’s been a long journey,” he added. “My first year here was really hard with the injury but I feel like I’ve come back stronger, come in and contributed well to the team.

“[The fans] had a big influence. You could feel it from the first minute, even during the warmup – they were the loudest in the stadium.

“They gave us the motivation to continue pushing Liverpool and get the goals and I think we could have even got one or two more.”

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