Mikel’s Stoke City dash Aston Villa’s Carabao Cup ambition

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John Obi Mikel
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The former Nigeria captain put up a sterling performance as the Potters produced a shock win over the English top-flight side in the competition

John Obi Mikel’s Stoke City are through to the Carabao Cup quarter-final after defeating Aston Villa 1-0 on Thursday night.

Sam Vokes’ first-half striker was all Michael O’Neill’s side need to win at Villa Park, and in the process secure a place in the competition’s last eight for the first time in five years.

The former Chelsea star was handed a starter’s role to form a five-man midfield alongside Jordan Thompson, Josh Tymon, Jacob Brown and Nick Powell.

With barely 40 seconds played in the game, Tyrese Campbell played in Vokes down the right, however, Kortney Hause blocked his cross meant for Powell.

The Premier League side’s first chance of the game fell to Jacob Ramsey whose tame header was saved by goalkeeper Adam Davies.

Stoke’s breakthrough came in the 26th minute after Vokes headed a well-taken corner from Thompson past Jed Steer. That goal was a reality check for the hosts who attacked in their numbers in search of an equaliser.

Four minutes before the half-time break, Dean Smith’s Claret and Blue Army also fluffed a golden chance to level matters when Anwar El Ghazi’s cross found Keinan Davis but the Englishman poked his effort wide.

Goalkeeper Davies, at the other end, was forced to make a couple of saves to deny Aston Villa a chance to come back. The most impressive saw him catch El Ghazi’s shot after he found a shooting opportunity after skipping past three defenders.

In the closing stages of the game, Smith’s team appealed for a penalty when Ollie Watkins went down under a challenge from Australia’s Harry Souttar, but referee Robert Jones waved off the appeal. After the final whistle, it was the Championship team who marched to the next round.

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While Mikel was on parade for the duration, Cameroonian goalkeeper Blondy Nna Noukeu was an unused substitute.

Burkina Faso’s Bertrand Traore, Zimbabwe's Marvelous Nakamba and Egypt’s Ahmed Elmohamady were in action, nevertheless, were unable to prevent Villa from crumbling.

Thanks to this result, Stoke City head to Sunday’s league game against Birmingham City with confidence.

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