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Aston Villa 6 Blackburn 4 (agg 7-4): Villa win amazing ten goal thriller

21 Jan 2010 07:57:29

Aston Villa 6 Blackburn 4 (agg 7-4): Villa win amazing ten goal thriller

An evening of extraordinary drama ended with Aston Villa sealing a place at Wembley for the first time under Martin O'Neill as the second leg of this semi-final turned into a shoot-out. Villa's Northern Irish manager ended the club's 10-year wait for a trip to football's spiritual home after 90 minutes in which both defences took leave of their senses. Five goals by the hosts in a 32-minute period either side of half-time proved decisive as Villa overcame an early hiccup to put themselves within sight of their sixth League Cup triumph. But that only told half the story. Six of the best: Ashley Young watches his late effort creep in to put the gloss on Villa's win Blackburn, trailing to James Milner's goal from the first leg, had threatened a surprise as they raced into a two-goal lead. It took a controversial Stephen Warnock goal on the half-hour to level the tie. Then Christopher Samba hauled over Gabriel Agbonlahor 10 minuteslater, conceding a penalty and earning himself a red card to turn thetide claret and blue. Three goals early in the second-half were followed by two from thevisitors, who simply would not allow their own final dreams to die. But when Ashley Young strode half the length of the Villa Park pitchto finish inside the far post in added time, O'Neill could finallyrelax. Five star: Emile Heskey scores Villa's fifth goal on a night of League Cup drama He said: 'It was an amazing game. We started nervously, concedingtwice. We roared back into it. At 2-1, thought we could score again.Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would end 6-4. Was it 6-4?   'I'm pleased for the team. They have had to fight back. The crowdwere getting anxious. The players had to play the ball they saw, ratherthan the one the spectators saw. 'But we grew up tonight. I'm delightedwe are going to Wembley. 'A night like this hasn't come along too often in the past 25 years.I think this club should be contesting these occasions more often. 'But few of these players have been in this position before, and Igenuinely believe they are improving. I am absolutely delighted.' To add spice to a night that did not really need any, Blackburnmanager Sam Allardyce laid into referee Martin Atkinson for his failureto spot a foul on Ryan Nelsen that led to Villa clawing themselves backinto the game. May the fourth be with you: James Milner fires home to put Villa 4-2 up Yes, Blackburn's boss chose to castigate the Yorkshire officialrather than lay the blame at the door of his players for defending thatwould have shamed amateurs. 'It's a bit difficult to take,' he said. 'Scoring four goals with 10men and not going through to the final. At 2-0, we were in completecontrol of the game and if anyone is going to score a third, it's us.We have done a magnificent job in unhinging Villa, scored two reallygood goals. 'Then Agbonlahor jumps into Ryan Nelsen. It was a blatant foul thatwent unpunished. We have been put in a position we shouldn't have beenin. We had 40,000 fans stunned at what was going on, Villa grabbed alifeline. 'Mark Clattenburg was outstanding in the first leg. If we weren'tgoing to go through, we wanted it to be down to ourselves. 'People will say that there is an awful lot of game to go after that but it was critical. A key decision.' On the spot: Milner equalises for Villa from the penalty spot O'Neill was in no mood to see any gloss taken off his side'sdisplay, saying: 'Six days ago we had two penalty kicks not given whenwe were leading 1-0. There was one clear penalty when Agbonlahor wasfouled - and then booked for diving - and one of their playersdeliberately handled the ball. 'We could have complained about that. You could go on forever and aday. At the end of it all I think we deserved to go through after thetwo legs.' The excitement last night started in the 10th minute when DavidDunn's right-wing corner caused temporary meltdown in Villa's defence,Richard Dunne and Emile Heskey both misjudged the flight of theinswinging ball along with keeper Brad Guzan and Nikola Kalinic headedhome. Villa Park had not been silenced by Blackburn's opener. But it was, temporarily, by Kalinic's second 16 minutes later. The home defence could not cope with the midfielders pouring forwardonce Kalinic had slipped the ball outside Carlos Cuellar into MortenGamst Pedersen's path. The Norwegian crossed and Martin Olsson chargedon to it, Kalinic slotting home the rebound. Villa needed inspiration. Perfect start: Nikola Kalinic celebrates after putting Blackburn 1-0 up at Villa Park As usual, it arrived in the shape of a textbook centre from AshleyYoung four minutes later. Nelsen was barged out of the way at thenear-post by Gabby Agbonlahor and former Ewood Park favourite StephenWarnock slammed the loose ball high into the net. Samba was then sent off when Agbonlahor was brought down after racing clear, Milner smashing home the resulting penalty. Blackburn made a mess of defending Stuart Downing's corner sevenminutes after the break, and the ball finally went into his own net offSteven Nzonzi. Home fans' relief was replaced by one of pure joy five minuteslater as Heskey held the ball up well for Milner to unleash a shot thatdeflected in off Agbonlahor. With Milner's strike from the first leg,that gave Villa a three-goal advantage. It was four after 62 minutes when Heskey rounded keeper Paul Robinson to add Villa's fifth of the night. That should have sparked a party, but Olsson scored the goal of thegame with a magnificent overhead kick, and Villa fans were jitteryagain when Brett Emerton's weak 20-yard effort found its way through aruck of defenders with six minutes to go. Pretty soon, Villa Park was celebrating again when Young applied aglorious finale to a memorable, if bizarre, night's entertainment.  Aston Villa 6 Blackburn 4: All the action as it happenedI'm focused on Carling Cup not the World Cup insists Villa's WarnockSam Allardyce blasts Blackburn fans' poor show for semi-final clash at VillaASTON VILLA FC


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