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Player Match Ratings: Football doesn’t get any better than this!


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How joyous was this semi-final victory and how proud of our team do we all feel? We left the stadium having witnessed the best display a Villa team has given in 19 years at Wembley. This was an occasion to be celebrated and one that will live in our memories. What had threatened to be a season of despair may yet prove to have a glorious conclusion.       


We proved the press, pundits and bookmakers wrong yesterday. We did not play like the long-odds underdogs they considered were just there to make up the numbers. We fought like lions and fully deserved our victory.


We had the resilience to come back from a goal behind and had the better of the game dominating it until we were put under some sustained pressure near the end. But we were not to be denied our first FA Cup win against yesterday’s opponents since our double winning year.


So it is not to be the much anticipated and longed for final hurrah for Stevie G at this year’s FA Cup Final thanks to us party-poopers. But it is not all doom and gloom for Stevie because he is now free to book an early holiday in the sun. He can then watch us play Arsenal in comfort with a sangria in his hand as his glittering playing career winds towards its conclusion. His team-mate Sterling may have other forms of relaxation in mind for the end of May but I’m sure he found Sunday’s defeat to be no laughing matter.


No doubt we will start the FA Cup Final as underdogs and with everyone expecting Arsenal to cruise to a comfortable win. But wasn’t that what everyone other than us thought was going to happen yesterday? As Ron Saunders once said “Do you want to bet against us?”             


My player ratings from a game that has left us 90 minutes from lifting the FA Cup for the eighth time and for the fist time since 1957 are:


Shay Given – 7 – Did what he needed to do and looked solid when tested. Shay showed how much winning this game meant to him with his post game celebrations.                                                                    


Leandro Bacuna – 7 – Gave a solid performance.                             


Nathan Baker – 7 - Left the field due to injury on 26 minutes. Had looked steady and composed until then.   


Ron Vlaar – 9 – Gave an immense performance at the heart of our defence which was reminiscent of his summer World Cup assurance.                                


Kieran Richardson – 8 – Continued the upturn in personal performance he produced at Spurs on the Wembley turf and did not let anyone down at the back. A loose ball fell to him inside the box on 62 minutes following a Lovren challenge on Grealish but his effort was well wide of the post. Headed a Gerrard header from a corner off the line on 86 minutes.                         


Tom Cleverley – 9 – He gets better with each game and wins like this may yet have him seeing his future as with us rather than elsewhere. His best performance for us and one that demonstrated he can still find the performance levels that made him an international player in the past.         


Ashley Westwood - 8 – Made a big contribution to our strong midfield display on his welcome return to the side.                                        


Fabian Delph – 9 – He was Captain Fantastic yesterday. He controlled the middle and hit our winner to put the icing on the cake. Delph started the move in the centre circle on 54 minutes by playing the ball forward to Benteke who back heeled the ball for Grealish whose well timed pass into the box found Fab. He then turned inside two defenders before hitting the ball into the back of the net.               


Jack Grealish – 9 – MOTM - He was so comfortable on the Wembley turf and produced a superb display being in no way phased by the importance of the occasion. Jack was always available to his colleagues and gave a match-winning performance. Made some good threatening runs and might look at having a shot when he gets himself into such positions in the future. He can now look forward to a Cup Final appearance for us 110 years after his great-great-grandfather did the same in our 1905 FA Cup Final win.   


Charles N’Zogbia – 7 – Benteke back heeled the ball to Delph who found Charles on 12 minutes. His shot from the edge of the box was tipped over the bar by Mignolet.  


Christian Benteke – 9 – His goal run continues and threatens to bring us some silverware as well as safety. Christian hit our vital equalizing goal on 36 minutes. Grealish played a lovely ball to Delph who in turn found Benteke whose shot beat the outstretched hand of Mignolet and found the corner of the net. He was a constant threat to the Liverpool defence.  




Jores Okore – 7 – Replaced Baker on 26 minutes. He was hesitant when losing the ball inside his own box in the lead up to their goal and unluckily got a touch on Coutinho’s shot which may well have took it from Given’s reach. He then settled into the game well and went on to form a solid central defensive partnership with Vlaar.


Scott Sinclair – Replaced N’Zogbia on 75 minutes. Scott was not on long enough to gather a rating.    


Joe Cole – Replaced Jack on 83 minutes. Not on long enough to merit a rating but he does not lose many semi-finals does he?    


Up for the Cup Villa!

John Lewis

Edited by John
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