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O'Neill relishes Wembley return
Published : 08 Mar 2010 08:38:50
Martin O'Neill has backed Aston Villa to make the most of their second match at Wembley this season when they play Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final next month.
O'Neill saw his side fight back from two goals down to beat Reading 4-2 in a thrilling quarter-final at the Madejski Stadium, with striker John Carew netting a second-half hat-trick.
O'Neill said: "It's great to be back at Wembley again - even on that pitch. I didn't enjoy the occasion (Carling Cup final) at all last week so there is a chance to put that right now."
The Villa manager was critical of the state of the playing surface at the national stadium during the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United in the Carling Cup final, claiming there "was no excuse" for the poor conditions.
But after booking a return trip after a fabulous second-half showing against their Coca-Cola Championship hosts O'Neill admitted his side were ready for another bite.
He added: "It took us time (against Reading) before we treated it like a quarter-final in the FA Cup.
"You need character and determination to fight and we didn't have that in the first half. But it came back in great abundance.
"It's fantastic for the football club to be in the semi-finals and I genuinely feel for the supporters. They were fantastic. Even at 2-0 down to a Championship club they were cheering us on and that was a big boost."
Villa were staring at an upset when Shane Long's two goals put the Royals in control at the break but from the moment Ashley Young pulled one back within two minutes of the restart the Premier League side moved through the gears.
Carew scored twice in the space of six minutes to put Villa ahead before the hour mark before capping the win with a penalty in stoppage-time.