Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji
English Women’s Super League (WSL) team, Aston Villa progressed to the semi-finals of the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup with a penalty shootout win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday.
The quarter-final tie was 1-1 after 120 minutes, after Kirsty Hanson had cancelled out Veatriki Sarri’s first-half opener. But Villa’s resolve saw them take the clash all the way to penalties before converting two spot-kicks to book their place in the last four.
Carla Ward made two changes from the side that started Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Bristol City. Ebony Salmon and Simone Magill were handed starting berths for the suspended Rachel Daly and the cup-tied Noelle Maritz.
Villa opened the scoring early on against Bristol City, but there would be no such outcome on Wednesday. Hanson saw a long-range effort held by Sophie Baggaley in what was Villa’s only attempt of note inside the first 30 minutes.
Brighton, who didn’t seem to pose much of a threat in that time, took the lead on 35 minutes.
Sarri, who infamously scored a late equaliser for Birmingham City against Villa in 2021, unleashed a well-struck effort from distance that went inside Daphne van Domselaar’s near post and into the net.
Villa had enjoyed much of the ball but were shell-shocked at going a goal down. A response was required, and within a few moments of the opener Magill found the target from inside the area after some good work from Adriana Leon.
But like Hanson’s effort, Magill could only find the open arms of Baggaley.
Villa emerged from half-time with the urgency of a side that didn’t want their cup run to end, and it began to tell. Salmon had the ball in the back of the net after a Kenza Dali free-kick was deflected into the box, but the flag quickly went up for offside.
Brighton still posed a threat on the counter attack and squandered a golden chance to double their lead when Elisabeth Terland dragged an effort wide. Then came Villa’s equaliser. Dali crossed the ball towards the back post, where Hanson planted a downwards header beyond Baggaley.
Villa pushed for a win inside 90 minutes and were twice denied by a suddenly inspired Baggaley.
First, Hanson forced a leg save from the ‘keeper before Maz Pacheco’s well-struck attempt was kept out brilliantly.
Extra time came and went with an air of formality surrounding Broadfield Stadium.
The ensuing set of penalty kicks was nothing short of dramatic, though. van Domselaar pulled off three top saves, leaving Villa the simple task of converting two to progress to the semi-finals 2-0 on penalties.
Chelsea FC Women and Manchester City also made it to the semi final after victories over Sunderland and Tottenham respectively.
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Emma Hayes side thrashed Sunderland 5-0 at Kingsmeadow, London. Two goals each from Sjoeke Nusken and Fran Kirby lifted the Blues to a win.
Agnes Beever-Jones converted the other goal for the WSL champions and league leaders.
At Brisbane Road, Manchester City edged Tottenham 1-0 thanks to Yui Hasegawa’s goal.
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