Skip to main content

Minnow Bradford in fairytale triumph

updated 6:01 PM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
Bradford celebrates its equalizer during the 1-1 draw at Villa Park.
Bradford celebrates its equalizer during the 1-1 draw at Villa Park.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Minnow Bradford City progresses to League Cup Final
  • City wins 4-3 on aggregate following 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa
  • Bradford is first team from fourth-tier to make final since 1962
  • Chelsea or Swansea will provide opposition in final

(CNN) -- Bradford City will have one final chapter to write in its fairytale story after defying all the odds to realize its dream of playing in a major final at the iconic Wembley Stadium.

Bradford, which plays in the fourth tier of English football, was beaten 2-1 at Premier League Aston Villa Tuesday, but prevailed 4-3 on aggregate to become the first team from its division to reach the final of the League Cup since 1962

Facing a team worth millions of dollars, it was a collection of players assembled for less than $12,000, which drew on its bravery, courage and no shortage of skill to do the unthinkable.

'Giant-killers' Bradford stun Aston Villa in League Cup

Not since 1911 when it won the FA Cup has Bradford appeared in a major cup final and now it will compete for the previously unimaginable prospect of playing in European competition next season.

Assou-Ekotto: Education is key
The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in South Africa on Saturday. It is one of the world's most exciting tournaments including players who ply their trade in some of Europe's top leagues. Among them is Fuad Ibrahim, a young American striker who once played for the U.S Under-17 and Under-20 teams. The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in South Africa on Saturday. It is one of the world's most exciting tournaments including players who ply their trade in some of Europe's top leagues. Among them is Fuad Ibrahim, a young American striker who once played for the U.S Under-17 and Under-20 teams.
American boy
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
Ethiopia\'s American boy Ethiopia's American boy
Limited resources
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
High flyer: Cape Verde\'s \'Special One\' High flyer: Cape Verde's 'Special One'

Either Chelsea or Swansea will provide the opposition on February 24, but thoughts of that can wait while City bask in the glory of a wonderful tale.

It is an incredible story for a club which dropped out of the Premier League 12 years ago and disappeared from the higher echelons of the game in frightening fashion.

Financial woes and three relegations in six years followed, but the Yorkshire club has now awoken from its slumber and breathed romance into the English game.

French minnows triumph

Leading 3-1 against Premier League Aston Villa, a club owned by American businessman Randy Lerner, the visitor fell behind in the 24th minute when Belgian striker Christian Benteke flicked home.

But Bradford, which had already defeated Premier League teams Wigan and Arsenal in earlier rounds, refused to be denied.

And with 10 minutes of the second half gone, James Hanson headed home a dramatic equalizer to restore his side's overall advantage.

Villa, which sits 17th out of 20 in the Premier League, has endured a disappointing season under manager Paul Lambert.

Tiny island makes football history
Eaton talks match fixing in January
Schmeichel: Spain has best national team

It has been thrashed 8-0 by Chelsea, while also suffering home defeats by Tottenham, Wigan and Southampton.

Manager Lambert has been under increasing pressure with the threat of relegation continuing to loom on the horizon.

But the 1982 European champion was still expected to defeat a Bradford side which is 10th in its own league.

Arsenal stunned by fourth tier Bradford

Instead it was City which looked the more likely to win the game outright with Garry Thompson smashing his effort against the crossbar, while Hanson failed to hit the target when well placed.

Villa did eventually move back in front in the 89th minute when Andreas Weimann nipped in to fire home, but it was too little, too late, for the home side.

Dreamland

"Coming here two goals up we had a great chance," Bradford manager Phil Parkinson told Sky Sports.

"In the first half Villa were excellent, but in the second I thought we were excellent and deserved it.

"We felt in the first half we didn't pass the ball and in the second we got hold of the ball and had a period of possession. We knew Villa are an attacking team that would leave space for us.

"It's dreamland. We said we had a chance to make history and it's absolutely tremendous."

Italy

Meanwhile, in Italy, Lazio scored a late goal to claim a 1-1 draw at Juventus in the first leg of its Coppa Italia semifinal.

Captain Stefano Mauri scored an 86th minute equalizer to cancel out Federico Peluso's earlier strike.

Juventus wasted a whole host of chances with Arturo Vidal hitting a post and Federico Marchetti making a vital clearance off the line.

The two teams will meet again in the second leg on January 29.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT