Aston Villa shock Liverpool to reach FA Cup final

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The 2015 FA Cup final will see Aston Villa take on Arsenal after Tim Sherwood's men staged a dramatic comeback to win the second semi final at Wembley.

Liverpool started lively as Steven Gerrard returned to first team duties along with Martin Skrtel. The momentum fell the way of Brendan Rodgers' men as the Reds took the lead on the thirty minute mark through PFA Player of the Year nominee Philippe Coutinho.

The lead wasn't preserved for long and six minutes later England International Fabian Delph crossed for the in-form Christian Benteke to drive home his ninth goal in six matches.

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Liverpool struggled to match Villa's work rate and both teams went into the interval at 1-1. An unhappy Rodgers sent Mario Balotelli out to warm up during the half time break. The Italian duly replaced the below par Lazar Markovic for the second half.

The substitution did not bring about the impact hoped for and Villa continued to show more desire. The confidence instilled in the rejuvenated team by the appointment of Sherwood again paid dividends in the 54th minute as Benteke’s back heel fell into the path of youngster Jack Grealish.

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The winner

The 19-year-old released previous Liverpool target Fabian Delph, who cut in to beat Dejan Lovren, and fire a goal past Simon Mignolet to give the underdogs the lead.

Less than ten minutes later Villa could have added another, but Kieran Richardson could not hit the target with his curling effort.

Liverpool upped the ante and in the last ten minutes of what turned out to be his final F.A Cup final appearance, Steven Gerrard thought he had evened the scores only to see Richardson clear his goal bound shot off the line.

With Liverpool pressing forward Joe Allen's goal bound strike was superbly blocked by Ashley Westwood and the ball fell to Delph, who's heavy pass let Alberto Moreno successfully challenge with Benteke through on goal.

Sherwood's delight

Happy Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood told reporters: "It was a great day for the football club.

"Obviously nothing is won yet. Not a lot of people gave us a chance coming here, playing against Liverpool.

"But we believed it and when we stepped out on to the pitch we realised our fans believed it as well. That meant an awful lot to us. They were magnificent - especially when we went behind.

"They dragged us back into the game. We got back into it six minutes after with Christian's fantastic goal. Then I thought we dominated the football match after that. We caused them a lot of problems.

"We looked at Liverpool and thought it might cause them a few problems if we played two No.10s in Jack Grealish and Charles N'Zogbia. It turned out that way.

"They played in the pockets. They were hard to pick up. They got themselves on the turn and our width came from our full-backs. We knew our midfield would have the energy to cope and they did.

"We needed to get players in support of Christian and I thought the game plan worked perfectly.

"We weren't worried what Liverpool were going to do. We just knew if we played like we could that we were going to cause them a lot of problems."

Rodgers reaction

At his post match press conference Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said: "As you can imagine, we're obviously bitterly disappointed, and more with the performance.

"You can always lose a game, but you'd hope you can play well and give yourself an opportunity. I thought we were second best today, to be honest. They were better than us. We had some chances but Aston Villa were better than us today.

"There's an obligation here to fight right until the very end. We have come close now in two competitions but failed to make the steps. Hopefully in the future we can learn from that.

"I think sometimes you can want to win too much and the focus comes away from what allows you to win.

"I thought our energy was low today. Aston Villa had a good start and I felt we were too passive in the game. I had to change the system, it got us some joy, we started to control the game a little bit and then we got in front - but we didn't keep the lead long enough.

"We were too passive on the side of the field, Fabian Delph skipped through way too easily and they got back into the game. Second half, we hoped to play better but we just didn't create enough today.

"It was a trademark of the team last year - in the first 20 minutes of games, the intensity of our game was very high.

"Of late, that hasn't quite been the case. We just were nowhere near our level. Congratulations to Aston Villa because they played well and are through to the final. The better team won."

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