2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Jack Grealish (85')

Prince William in attendance as Jack Grealish gives Villa win over Cardiff

Jack Grealish produced a brilliant late goal to plunge Cardiff City to a 1-0 defeat and give Aston Villa their first win in five games.
It was Cardiff's third successive game without a win and this defeat cost them their second spot in the Championship.
Prince William, an Aston Villa fan, was an interested spectator in the director's box, and Grealish's 85th minute goal delighted the future king.
Cardiff defeated Villa 3-0 earlier in the season but after failing to win their previous two games they lacked the cutting edge to remain in second position behind Wolves as Fulham moved above them following their 1-0 win over Reading.
With so much at stake the game it was a fierce contest but Villa produced a battling performance to edge home to keep alive their own promotion ambition.
With only one win in their previous five outings, Villa were handicapped with the enforced absence of the vastly experienced John Terry, who was replaced in the centre of defence by the Australian international, Mile Jedinak.
Nevertheless, they could have made a dream start following clever work by Robert Snodgrass who put Lewis Grabban in possession only for the on-loan striker to lash his angled shot into the side netting in only the second minute.
As to be expected with so much at stake neither side stood on ceremony. Both teams had a positive attacking attitude as they attempted to break each others resistance.
Villa had a big let off in the 15th minute when young Axel Tuanzebe was caught in possession by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing who broke clear down the right but watched as his low raking drive hit the foot of the far post.
Tuanzebe was injured in the incident and Villa drafted in the James Bree, who made
his first appearance at Bolton last month.
In a frantic all-action game Mendez-Laing emerged as Cardiff's main threat with the highly charged Welsh club showing a lot of aggression in an attempt to break Villa's resolve.
It was far from a classic and Cardiff had an escape following a Snodgrass corner when Albert Adomah bobbled an effort just wide through a packed defence.
Grealish was a marked man with Aron Gunnarsson carrying out his job to perfection as Villa's attack struggled to find a flowing game against their tenacious opposition.
Early in the second half Cardiff slowly emerged as the more dangerous as they began to launch a series of attacks to pressurise the Villa rearguard.
Only an outstretched foot by Sam Johnstone prevented Kenneth Zohore from opening Cardiff's account shortly before Villa drafted in last season's leading marksman, Jonathan Kodjia.
Kodjia made an immediate impact with a fine solo jinking move which ended in him forcing Neil Etheridge to make a point blank save.
Grealish, for once, escaped Gunnarsson's close attention to send Conor Hourihane clear only for the Irishman to push his shot wide as he was closed down by Etheridge.
Johnstone came to Villa's rescue to keep out a real block-buster from Mendez-Laing before Villa clinched the game in the 85th minute when Grealish produced a swerving shot which cannoned off the post and into the net.

English League Championship Standings

1 Norwich City 44 +34 88
2 Sheffield United 44 +35 85
3 Leeds United 43 +26 82
4 West Bromwich Albion 44 +26 77
5 Aston Villa 44 +22 75
6 Derby County 43 +11 67
7 Middlesbrough 44 +6 67
8 Bristol City 43 +7 66
9 Sheffield Wednesday 44 -1 63
10 Swansea City 43 +3 62
11 Nottingham Forest 44 +5 60
12 Preston North End 44 +3 60
13 Hull City 44 -2 60
14 Blackburn Rovers 44 -4 59
15 Brentford 43 +8 55
16 Stoke City 44 -7 53
17 Birmingham City 44 +6 50
18 Wigan Athletic 44 -14 48
19 Queens Park Rangers 44 -18 48
20 Reading 44 -16 46
21 Millwall 43 -14 43
22 Rotherham United 44 -29 40
23 Bolton Wanderers 44 -47 32
24 Ipswich Town 44 -40 28