Aston Villa came into the match needing at least a two-goal win to get into the League Cup final at Wembley, and they fielded a team designed to break down their League Two opponents as quickly as possible. They didn't get off to the best start, with some awful giveaways ceding possession to Bradford City, but slowly, the hosts were able to impose themselves on the match.
Headed chances for both Christian Benteke and Matthew Lowton were spurned before Matt Duke was first called into action, with Charles N'Zogbia causing problems for Bradford City's defence with some very clever movement. But despite dominating possession, Villa were still prone to giving away free kicks in stupid positions, exactly the issue they had in the 3-1 loss in Bradford.
Benteke's next chance found the frame, but his 15th minute was hit straight at Duke and wasn't much good to anyone. Tick tock, went the clock, as Gabriel fired into the goalkeeper from a tight angle.Tick tock, and it was suddenly time to applaud Stiliyan Petrov. Tick tock, and Ciaran Clark picked up a booking for no discernable reason.
Tick tock... and Benteke found the net. A patient buildup found Joe Bennett in the left channel, and his fizzed cross found the outstretched boot of Christian Benteke. The Belgian fired in on the volley, smashing the ball past Duke before the helpless keeper could even flinch.
Suddenly, belief. Bradford's only response was to shoot from range, with Nahki Wells merely granting the hosts a goal kick rather than threatening Shay Given's net. Villa, meanwhile, were flying. Stephen Ireland netted after more good work from Bennett, only to be flagged offside. Then N'Zogbia fired in a thunderbolt that Duke barely tipped over for a corner.
But despite being absolutely hammered by their hosts (and nearly conceding another Benteke goal), Bradford were able to limp into halftime losing just 1-0 on the night. That means that they hold the aggregate lead -- but 3-2 feels nowhere near as comfortable as 3-1. There's drama to come here.