x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Lambert looks for positives as Bradford spring another English League Cup surprise against Aston Villa

Lowly Bradford City put themselves in pole position for a place at Wembley after stunning Aston Villa 3-1 in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.

Bradford's Carl McHugh (bottom) celebrates with teammates after scoring the third against Aston Villa in their Capital One Cup semi-final first leg
Bradford's Carl McHugh (bottom) celebrates with teammates after scoring the third against Aston Villa in their Capital One Cup semi-final first leg

Under pressure Paul Lambert remains hopeful Aston Villa can still reach the English League Cup final - despite becoming the latest victims of giant-killing Bradford City.

The lowly League Two side, who had already beaten Wigan and Arsenal on their way to the semi-finals, claimed a 3-1 first leg result over Villa at Valle Parade, putting Phil Parkinson's team in pole position to reach Wembley.

But while Lambert, whose side have won just one of their last seven league matches, was disappointed with his young players' defending he insisted the tie was far from over.

"At any level of football, you can't defend set-plays like that and expect to win games of football," Lambert said.

"But we're still in the tie, absolutely. It will be a different game at Villa Park.

"We had lots of chances to score and we never took them, but it's only half-time.

"It will be a totally different game at Villa Park, but when chances come our way we have to take them.

"But you've got to give Bradford credit, they defended resolutely and their goalkeeper made some good saves."

Nahki Wells opened the scoring for Bradford in the 19th minute, drilling home from inside the penalty box after Gary Jones' corner had been deflected away.

Heroics from Bradford goalkeeper Matt Duke kept the minnows in the lead before defender Rory McArdle got on the end of a Jones cross with 13 minutes to go to give the hosts a two-goal lead.

Andreas Weimann handed Villa a lifeline when he turned the ball home five minutes later, but Carl McHugh restored Bradford's two goal lead with just to minutes remaining.

Gary Jones was once again the provider, capping an impressive performance by providing a pinpoint cross for McHugh to knock home, sparking jubilant scenes among the supporters.

Phil Parkinson, the Bradford City manager, refused to be swept away by the occasion, saying: "It was important we got the message across to the lads at the end of the game and equally be respectful to Villa because in two weeks' time we've got to go down to Villa Park and do it all again.

"We're absolutely delighted with the way we played, obviously, because from the first minute to the last the lads were tremendous tonight. But equally we know we're only halfway there, we've got a very difficult job in a fortnight's time."

But he admitted the result went down as one of the greatest in the club's history.

"Against Arsenal it was a great night for us but I think the all-round performance tonight (was better), because Villa played a very attacking team and we had to defend well and equally they left a lot of space on the pitch for us to play," he said.

"Our quality players had to stay composed on the ball and they certainly did that."

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE