Aston Villa can't blame referee for FA Cup defeat, says Stiliyan Petrov
In the wake of their 3-0 defeat on Saturday, Martin O'Neill and his players were understandably quick to criticise Howard Webb, the referee, for failing to award a penalty when John Obi Mikel brought down Gabby Agbonlahor in the area. -- Do referees favour the 'big' clubs? Join our debate Related ArticlesDebate: Do referees favour big clubs?O'Neill rages at Terry tackleAston Villa 0 Chelsea 3Milner the star despite Villa's defeatVilla-Chelsea: player ratingsSport on televisionWebb also opted to restrict himself to cautioning John Terry for what was unarguably a dangerous tackle on James Milner, which should have resulted in a red card. It would have left Chelsea with ten men to defend their 1-0 lead over the final 15 minutes. However, Petrov, the Aston Villa captain, has been the first to accept that his side must come to terms with the fact that, despite competing on level terms with Chelsea for the first hour, they failed to find the net and therefore allowed themselves the opportunity to pressure their opposition. 'We need to blame ourselves,' he said. 'You have to score goals to win games and we didn't manage to do that. They scored three and went through.' In fairness to Villa, John Carew came within inches of a header into what would have been an open goal, but Terry diverted the ball at the last minute, and they should have been given a penalty for Mikel's clumsy challenge. Yet if Villa are to move forward they cannot dwell on poor fortune, but accept their shortcomings and work to eradicate them. Petrov's willingness to address Villa's inability to adequately test Petr Cech is a positive sign that the players will not allow themselves to wallow in injustice over the remaining weeks of the season. Their focus can now be trained in full on the Premier League and their bid to finish fourth, although they were done no favours by local rivals Birmingham City, who succumbed to Manchester City 5-1, leaving seventh-placed Villa eight points adrift of fourth. It leaves Villa's home fixture against Everton on Wednesday all the more important. 'I said before the final that we could have a great season without anything. We need to make sure we end up with something we can celebrate,' Petrov said. 'We are going to try and qualify for Europe. That is the ambition now. That will drive us on.' Whether by Europe he means Champions League or Europa League depends on your point of view. Failure to win on Wednesday, and the latter would surely seem to be the only realistic possibility.
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