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
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
updated 8:44 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
updated 9:39 AM EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
French former football player Zinedine Zidane reacts during the gala football 'Match Against Poverty' organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on March 4, 2014 in Bern.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
updated 10:55 AM EST, Tue March 4, 2014
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
updated 1:07 PM EST, Wed February 26, 2014
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
updated 4:22 AM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
updated 1:25 PM EST, Sat February 1, 2014
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
updated 4:18 PM EST, Thu January 23, 2014
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
ADVERTISEMENT