Derby County secure their place in the Premier League Cup round of 16 with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa.
With one game remaining in the group stage, the win over group leaders Villa was enough to cement the rams’ place in the top-two.
Josh Shonibare handed Villa their first conceded goal in the competition after beating the defender and coolly tucking his effort home. Alex Babos then turned from provider to scorer with a superb finish to double the lead.
Villa substitute Tyreik Wright pulled one back for the home side but Derby held on through a nervy final ten minutes to secure the victory.
It was an even beginning between the two sides who sit at the top of Group F with no clear-cut chances for either side in the opening 15 minutes.
Josh Barnes made a big save after 16 minutes when Indiana Vassilev played Kelsey Mooney through to go one-on-one with the Rams’ ‘keeper, but the former blocked his effort. Vassilev then fired over the bar for the second chance shot.
Moments later, Barnes made a more comfortable save to deny Mooney again when he headed on target from Jake Walker’s cross from a short corner.
The Rams’ best chance of the half came on the half hour mark. Josh Shonibare tried his luck from just inside the area but his low drive was palmed away by Viljami Sinisalo and the keeper managed to scoop it up before Cameron Cresswell had chance to meet the rebound.
Barnes made another save to start the second-half after his goal-kick went back to Villa, Clarke lifted he ball through to Mooney who looked to shoot into the far corner but his effort was met by Barnes’ dive.
The Rams took the lead ten minutes into the second half and it was great work by Derby. Max Bird won the ball back on the half-way line and a superb one-ime touch by Alex Babos found Sonibare. The wideman then beat Alex Prosser and swung his left-footed shot from a tight angle past Sinisalo.
Babos turned from provider to scorer with just over 20 minutes left to play though another fantasic team goal as they hit Villa on the counter attack. Louie Sibley burst off down the middle of the pitch and sent the ball forward towards Jayden Mitchell-Lawson. The winger crossed in from the right to find Babos in front of goal for a superb finish past Sinisalo.
Villa pulled one back with juts more than ten minutes to go through substitute Tyreik Wright who was played through and chipped his effort over Barnes.
Barnes made another brilliant save with minutes to go when Villa were awarded a free-kick from a dangerous distance. Clarke swung an effort towards the bottom left corner which the Rams keeper turned away before the whistle was blown for offside to stop the attack.
In the closing minutes Calum Macdonald hit the crossbar before Darren Buffonge drew a save from Sinisalo while the Rams rode out a nervy final few minutes down the other end to see out the victory.
Derby County: Barnes, Gordon, Mcdonald, Bird, Bateman, Hunt, Mitchell-Lawson, Sibley (Wilson, 69), Cresswell (Buffonge, 61), Babos, Shonibare
Unused Subs: Eyoma, Yates, Karic
Aston Villa: Sinisalo, Walker (Burton, 79), Rowe, Bazeley-Graham, Revan, Prosser, Knibbs, Vassilev (Brunt, 63), Mooney, Clarke, Archer (Wright, 55)
Unused Subs: Patterson, Lomax