on 19:57




A BIG SHOUT TO JORDAN WHO IS 9 TODAY,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRINCESS XXX

Villa in the last 4 of the Carling Cup

Portsmouth v Aston Villa:

Mat Kendrick's big match report and player ratings
Dec 2 2009

Portsmouth 2 Aston Villa 4

QUE Sera Sera, Whatever Will Be, Will Be, We’re Going to the Semi, Que Sera Sera...

The 3,000-plus Villa fans were belting out the ‘Wem-ber-ley’ version when the fourth goal completed their emphatic passage into the Carling Cup semi-final last night.

But, with Manchester United already through and Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Blackburn battling for the right to join them this evening, it’s probably best not to start dreaming about the final just yet.

Martin O’Neill’s men must wait until the draw after tonight’s ties to discover who awaits them in a two-legged semi in January.

However, despite the formidable task they face in the last four, Villa are edging tantalisingly close to their first silverware since their League Cup successes in 1994 and 1996.

Emile Heskey, James Milner, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young will all be hoping for a memorable 2010 by booking their places in Fabio Capello’s England World Cup squad for South Africa.

And last night’s awesome foursome of goalscorers, along with fellow Three Lions hopefuls Gabby Agbonlahor and Stephen Warnock, now have plenty to look forward to for club and country in the New Year.

Villa must have felt it was going to be one of those nights when Stiliyan Petrov sliced Danny Webber’s left wing corner past Carling Cup keeper Brad Guzan at the near post to give Pompey a 10th minute lead. But, credit to the captain, he led by example as Villa quickly recovered from the blow to equalise within two minutes.

Heskey grabbed the leveller with an exquisite finish following a Milner pass, lofting the ball over the advancing Pompey keeper Asmir Begovic from close range.

The England battering ram clearly loves playing at Fratton Park having notched the winner on his Villa debut in January and also scored there on his previous visit with Wigan.

It was Heskey’s second goal in successive away matches after he stepped off the bench to equalise at Burnley and it allowed Villa to make light of the injury-enforced absence of underachieving John Carew.

Milner went from creator to scorer with another wonderfully executed strike to give Villa a deserved lead on 27 minutes, taking delivery of an Young throw down the left and turning inside to thunder a fine strike inside the far post.

With the manager’s warning about killing teams off ringing in their ears following the disappointing second-half retreat against Tottenham at the weekend, Villa lived dangerously at times before putting the tie beyond Pompey late on.

Left-wing debutant Downing, central midfielder Milner and right-flanker Young exchanged positions throughout the evening and the former Middlesbrough favourite’s arrival offered an exciting glimpse of the options O’Neill now has at his disposal.

It was this fluidity which allowed Young to pop up on the right on 74 minutes to latch onto Petrov’s ball down the line and whip over a cross which was deflected towards the far post.

And, from his position on the left, Downing crowned his first Villa start by timing his run to perfection to stoop and head in the third, with Begovic unable to scoop the ball away.

Villa allowed Avram Grant’s Pompey a temporary lifeline when substitute Kanu slotted in from close range three minutes from time, after Guzan had just about stopped two headers from the former West Brom striker from slipping through his grasp.

But any worries about new manager syndrome revitalising the South Coast crisis club evaporated when Villa immediately went down the other end to inflict the second successive home defeat of Grant’s short reign following their league loss to Man United.

Young revelled in his right wing role and deserved to get on the scoresheet himself when he calmly worked space and smashed a deflected effort high into the net on 89 minutes after Agbonlahor skinned his marker and drilled a low cross towards the far post.

The five-times League Cup winners will not get carried away by being a possible 180 minutes away from their first appearance under the new Wembley arch, particularly after David O’Leary’s class of 2003-04 blew their previous semi-final chance with a 5-4 aggregate defeat to Bolton.

While next month’s double header will give Villa the chance to unleash their impressive home form on their last four rivals they must also improve their results on the road to stand a chance of progressing.

And hopefully last night’s first victory in seven on opposition territory will be just the boost they need. Villa’s sold-out allocation of jubilant travelling supporters will certainly hope so after entering into the festive spirit with a timely rendition of ‘Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way, Oh what fun it is to see the Villa win away’.

Never mind the Pompey chimes, the bells are ringing for claret and blue.

VILLA (4-4-2): Guzan 7; L Young 7, Dunne 7, Cuellar 7, Warnock 7; A Young 8, Milner 8, Petrov 8, * DOWNING 9; Agbonlahor 7, Heskey 7 (Delfouneso 90). Not used: Friedel, Delph, Reo-Coker, Beye, Gardner, Clark.

PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): Begovic; Vanden Borre, Ben Haim, Kaboul, Hreidarsson; Yebda, Brown, Hughes (Wilson 85), Belhadj; Webber (Kanu 65), Utaka (Piquionne 76). Not used: Ashdown, Mullins, Dindane, Basinas.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

Downing finds space to head a debut goal against Portsmouth: top picture

Villa will find out who their opponents will be later tonight

1 comments:

Angelina said...

Hi,

My name is Lina Wang. I've just visited your blog & I was wondering if you'd be interested in exchanging links with my blog, http://pokerhotchick.blogspot.com.

I hope you have a nice day and thank you very much in advance for your time and your help.

Best regards,
Lina Wang.

Search