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Thriller leaves O'Neill purring
21 Jan 2010 - 08:20:14
Martin O'Neill believes his Aston Villa side "grew up" after booking their place in the Carling Cup Final.
Villa won a thrilling semi-final second leg 6-4 against 10-man Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park on Wednesday night to secure an eighth appearance in the League Cup showpiece.
But they had to do it the hard way after slipping two goals behind on the night and the vital turning point occurred when Christopher Samba was sent off in the 39th minute to enable James Milner to level the scores from the penalty spot.
Stephen Warnock had earlier pulled back a goal and the other four scorers for Villa were Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey, Ashley Young and a Stephen N'Zonzi own goal.
"It was an extraordinary amazing game, no doubt about that. I was almost losing count of what was happening," said O'Neill.
"I thought we started nervously, conceding two goals, and Wembley was a fair distance away at that stage.
"But we finally got a bit of life into us, fought back brilliantly and we got back to 2-1.
"At that point I always felt we would score again, but not in my wildest dreams did I believe the score would end up 6-4. It was 6-4 wasn't it?
"I'm just really pleased for the team, which I know is a cliched old phrase, but I'm really delighted for them.
"They've had to fight back, whilst the crowd were obviously getting very anxious and frustrated and they grew up tonight.
"A night like this, they haven't come round too often at this club in the last 25 years or so.
"We should be contesting these kind of games more often."