City basked in the glory of another incredible night of Capital One Cup giant-killing but were then warned: We’re not at Wembley yet.
Aston Villa went the way of Wigan and Arsenal as Phil Parkinson’s warriors claimed a third Premier League scalp at a euphoric Valley Parade.
The 3-1 win gives them a real shout of seeing the job through at Villa Park on January 22 – and becoming the first fourth-tier team in the competition’s 53-year history to reach a Wembley final.
Elated joint-chairman Mark Lawn said: “In my wildest dreams, I would have taken a 1-1 draw just to stay in it. I’m just stunned.
“That result is going to send shockwaves right round the world.
“It’s an incredible effort from the team and the backroom staff who have kept them fit. That’s a big well done to fitness coach Nick Allamby.
“We’ve played 38 games now – more than anyone – and you’ve got old man Jonesy (Gary Jones) running round like a spring chicken.
“But we’ve got to remember that Villa are a Premier League side and they can easily score three goals at home. We’re going to have to work our socks off – but there’s no saying we can’t.”
Nahki Wells fired City in front in the first half and Rory McArdle doubled the lead. Andreas Weimann’s late strike seemed to put Villa back in control of the tie before Carl McHugh sealed an unforgettable night with a third home goal.
Parkinson insisted the Bantams are still underdogs heading into the away leg.
He said: “Villa are going to be favourites and massively fancied to turn us over. But equally we can go there and make sure that if they are going to get to Wembley, they’ll really have to earn it.
“When we saw the Villa team sheet it was almost a statement that they wanted to win the tie straight off. They really went for it.
“But when we got the ball, some of our football was absolutely outstanding. Everyone will mention the set-play delivery but some of the passing was great.
“There was a calmness in the way we played and I thought Gary Jones was back to his best.”
Matt Duke was in superb form with a string of saves to keep out Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor. And Parkinson hailed the efforts of rookie defenders McHugh and Curtis Good.
“We had two 19-year-olds at the back and Curtis was playing out of position (at left back). That will almost go unnoticed but for two such young players, my goodness me, they were tremendous.
“We couldn’t quite believe it when Carl got that third goal. It makes it a great night in two weeks’ time.
“The media spotlight will be on us even more now because we’ve given ourselves a chance. We’ve got to relish that.”
Parkinson is closing in on City’s first signing of the transfer window, thought to be a striker. And he felt last night’s victory was a great advert for the club.
“We’re working on something and getting closer,” he said. “Potential signings watching us and seeing performances like that with the big crowd and the atmosphere will want to be a part of it."