Villa looked like they’d be thrashed after first-half goals by Sergio Aguero and Rodri put City in firm control. But they replied through Mbwana Samatta on the stroke of half-time and gave City some hairy moments late on.
Saturday’s Premier League results pushed Villa into the relegation zone, two points from safety with a game in hand, but Smith is confident they will harness the positives and push on.
Dean Smith says Aston Villa will avoid the drop if they repeat their Carabao Cup final showing
Mbwana Samatta netted for Villa in the defeat to Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday
‘The performance level was the standard we have to be,’ said the Villa manager. ‘We were written off after our performance last week at Southampton [a 2-0 defeat] but there haven’t been too many of those.
‘I expected a reaction today and we got that against one of the top teams not just in Europe but the world.
‘We take it game by game, we came to win a final and win a trophy and we haven’t done that but our concentration turns to the Premier League.
‘We can’t hide from the fact we’re in the bottom three after the results yesterday. But we can take a lot of heart from that performance and if we play like that against many teams in the league, we will get out of that relegation spot.’
Smith is confident Villa will stay up despite Saturday’s games pushing them into the drop zone
Rodri scored City’s controversial second after a corner which shouldn’t have been awarded
City’s second goal, a header by midfielder Rodri, came from a corner that replays showed should have been a goal kick.
But Smith said: ‘There is nothing I can do about that. We all know it was a goal kick. We have to defend the corner better. That is the be all and end all.’
Villa could easily have forced extra time but for City keeper Claudio Bravo pulling off a superb save to deny Bjorn Engels at the death.
A superb stop from Claudio Bravo denied Bjorn Engels from sending the clash to extra time
Smith said: ‘We threw caution to the wind at the end. Five minutes to go and we chucked Engels up front, Orjan Nyland went up for the corner and I thought it was him at first. It was a great save.
‘We are playing against a top team and we had to defend stoutly at times, get some great blocks in, defend well as you have to do against Man City as teams find out, including Watford in a Cup final here.
‘There was never a sense of a backward step and that was what pleased me more than anything.’