O'Neill lauds 'sensational' Milner

Martin O'Neill hailed a "sensational" performance from Aston Villa midfielder James Milner as his side recovered from a nightmare start against Blackburn to seal a Carling Cup final spot.

Villa held a 1-0 lead from the first leg but were rocked by a two-goal blast from Rovers striker Nikola Kalinic and looked nervy and completely out of sorts.

But Milner helped to inspire a revival with another superb showing in the centre of the park as Blackburn wilted after the sending-off of Christopher Samba for bringing down Gabriel Agbonlahor in the box.

Milner scored that penalty and Stephen Warnock, a Steven Nzonzi own goal, Emile Heskey, Agbonlahor and Ashley Young completed the scoring for the home side.

O'Neill said: "Milner was sensational. He is a character-and-a-half and his game has reached a new level. There is no question about that.

"He is seeing the passes, moving into positions even though he hasn't played central midfield even 15 times yet.

"I think that is his position. He has moved his game on again. He gets into shooting positions as well.

"He said himself at the start of the season that he could score more goals but sometimes you have to be in a certain position to do that.

"If you are wide and crossing things in, it is hard obviously. His overall game from centre midfield has been fantastic."

Skipper Stiliyan Petrov also highlighted the fighting spirit of this Villa team by defying an Achilles problem to lead them to a first final in 10 years.

O'Neill said: "Petrov came over and said he was having a problem with his Achilles. It was a bit more than a problem because he had to get injected at half-time.

"I was delighted with his performance considering I didn't think he would see a minute after half-time at all.

"His overall performance and leadership helped us enormously in the game and I am as delighted for him as I am for anyone."

The Villa fans were less then enamoured with their side's uncertain start to the game and O'Neill believes they must be more tolerant.

He said: "The crowd have to learn to stick with the side and they cannot get frustrated.

"We have gone 2-0 down and normally speaking that might be out of sight.

"But these players are capable of fighting back - and it is better if the crowd stay with them.

"I understand their anxiety and frustration at times but you have got to stick with these players because they can play."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London