Jack Grealish celebrated his new deal at Aston Villa, scoring late against Burton to help send his team to the third round of the Carabao Cup.
The game appeared to be heading for a penalty shoot-out after club signing Ollie Watkins had scored Villa’s equalizer late in the first half to cancel Colin Daniel’s opening for the League One side after just 68 seconds.
- Jack Grealish signs new five-year Villa deal
- Carabao Cup third round draw
- Carabao Cup video | Fixtures | Results
But Grealish, who had signed a new five-year contract with his boyhood club earlier this Tuesday, hit a nice volley from the edge of the field to the front of Dean Smith’s team after 88 minutes.
Keinan Davis made sure he was triumphant in the injury era as the 3-1 victory saw Villa set up a trip to Bristol City or Northampton in the next round.
Grealish was appointed captain of the powerful Villa side at Pirelli Stadium, which included six players who played for the club in the final of last season.
Watkins made his debut with a new signature, while the likes of Tyrone Mings, Kortney Haus, Ahmed Elmohamady, Marvelous Nakamba and Anwar El Ghazi also began.
So it was a surprise when the League One side took the lead with a little more than a minute of action.
Ryan Edwards did well on the right side of the field, flashing a low ball across the face of the goal for Daniel, arriving at the far post, to get to the roof of the net.
Villa created a handful of chances in response, without upsetting 17-year-old goaltender Teddy Sharman-Lowe.
Jacob Ramsey was inches away from El Ghazi ‘s cross as he slid in, Grealish saw the shot deflected wide and Haus headed over the crossbar before the half-hour mark.
As the half-time approached, El Ghazi sailed wide from the edge of the bay. Pressure was rising on Burton, and six minutes before the break Villa reached the stage.
A lovely play by Grealish on the left set Neil Taylor free inside the area and his low cross was tapped home at the far post by Watkins for his first goal for the club.
Burton almost went straight up the other end and regained his lead after some sloppy Nakamba game, which lost control cheaply, allowing Edwards to curl the shot narrowly wide, with Orjan Nyland scrambling across his goal.
Any more wing wizardry from Grealish was expected to see Villa ‘s head in the front break. The England International slalomed its way into the area and along the byline before tapping up Watkins, who scooped his shot across the top of the crossbar from just six yards out.
Another error, this time Mings, saw Kane Hemmings nip in and shoot deep at the beginning of the second half.
Much of the second half saw Burton work relentlessly off the ball, as Villa’s superior consistency in possession started to tell.
However, the League One side has shown a relentless resolve and a strong degree of commitment and coordination to hold their most esteemed opponents at arm’s length.
Grealish had blocked a few attempts, and Home Defender John Brayford poked an Elmohamady cross just past a post, narrowly missing his own target.
Jota came to a close with a 25-yard pass, before Grealish finally let Villa’s pressure know, meeting a corner from the left with a volley that flew low into the net.
Davis then went to Henri Lansbury’s cross-ball to seal victory in injury time with a low finish across Sharman-Lowe and in the bottom corner.
What the managers said
Burton manager Jake Buxton:
“I thought our organization and hard work without the ball was tremendous, but that little bit of quality has hurt us. We’re disappointed we conceded the goals we did but the effort and way we played, the number of opportunities we had on the ball, tried to play and the understanding of our work rate without the ball was tremendous.
“It was a great start, we’ve come racing out of the blocks at home in both games now. We’ve had that tradition for many years here, keep going after teams and make sure we have a good start, but we probably did sit off too much once we got the goal but we’ve got to respect the opposition when they’ve got the quality that they have.”
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith:
“The objective is to win the game and get through to the next round and we’ve done that. We had a really good run in the cup last year, getting to the final, and we want to try and do that again.
“I thought Burton started better than us, we didn’t really compete with them in the first 15 and we were a bit slow on the ball but we got our just rewards in the end for the amount of possession we had.
“Jack scored a good goal at the end from a corner and he set some really good bits of play up for us… I’m pleased Ollie has got off the mark straight away, I know what he can do and I’m sure he’ll be disappointed that he missed the one before half-time as well.”
Grealish: Future was ’50/50′ before new deal
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Grealish was asked whether his future at Villa had been ’50/50′ before he signed the new deal, amid speculation over his future this summer.
He sad: “Yeah I suppose it was. I had a good season last season, there was interest, but I believe everything happens for a reason and I’ve happened to sign a new contract here, and I’ve got the biggest smile on my face.
“It was sorted yesterday. I decided that I wanted to stay after I had a chat, well saying that I always wanted to stay – it’s Aston Villa, it’s a club that’s close to me and my family. I think everyone knows that. But there’s been speculation through the summer. I had a FaceTime call with the owner on Saturday, he said what his ambitions are for this season and that persuaded me if anything.
“I spoke to the manager and Christian Purslow, who’ve both been a breath of fresh air since they’ve come in. Yesterday talks got underway, and it was done within 24 hours, it was quite an easy one and now I’m delighted to have signed it.”
Burton will host Accrington Stanley on Saturday in Sky Bet League One (kick-off 3 pm). Aston Villa will be back on Sky Sports on Monday Night Football when they welcome Sheffield United to Villa Park (kick-off 6 pm).