Chelsea defender Reece James star of the night at Stamford Bridge after showing class on and off the pitch

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There were several heroes of the night for Chelsea against Aston Villa – from Kepa Arrizabalaga to Timo Werner – but Reece James is the man who can hold his head highest after the win.

Chelsea scraped through to the last 16 of the Carabao Cup after a penalty shootout win over Aston Villa, their second win over the Premier League outfit in just a matter of weeks.

James was influential, with his and Trevoh Chalobah’s remarkable reading of the game stopping Villa in their tracks as they attempted to build towards Arrizabalaga’s goal.

The England right-back provided a quite brilliant assist for Timo Werner’s goal in the second-half of the contest, swinging the ball into the middle and putting it right on the German’s head.

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As the game went to penalties, James was not going to shy away from the responsibility, even though he’s a defender who only gets on the scoresheet on rare occasions.

James stood forward to be Chelsea’s fifth and final penalty taker, and boy did he deliver. With the safety off, James found the top corner in fashion to send Chelsea through.

As if he hadn’t shown his class enough on the night, he made time after the full-time whistle to trot over to the stands and hand a Chelsea fan his match-worn shirt.

James is not only a phenomenal footballer, but he’s another of this new breed of English players who are also quite remarkable and generous characters off the pitch.

He will go far in his football career and far in life, being both a potentially world-class right-back and a decent man with a sizeable heart. Hats off to you, Reece.

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