Villa hit six to seal trip to Wembley

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Aston Villa 6 Blackburn Rovers 4 (Villa win 7-4 on aggregate)

Aston Villa's special relationship with the League Cup, which they won in its first season half a century ago, reached new heights of intimacy last night. Facing a numbing anticlimax when Blackburn overturned their first-leg lead with two early goals by Nikola Kalinic, the five-time winners answered with six of their own to advance in relative comfort to their first final at the new Wembley.

Yet even as the last of thousands of jubilant pitch-invaders headed off to toast Villa's victory after an almost surreal contest, Sam Allardyce was condemning referee Martin Atkinson over what he saw as the Yorkshire official's part in the "turning point" in the most open semi-final in memory.

The Blackburn manager had no issue with the dismissal, before half-time, of Christopher Samba, which led to James Milner converting a penalty. However, he claimed, with every justification, that minutes earlier, Gabriel Agbonlahor had pushed over Ryan Nelsen immediately before Stephen Warnock scored for Villa against his former team-mates.

"Villa were flat, not only the team, who were stunned, but the fans, who were moaning and groaning," Allardyce said. "All of a sudden, they get a lifeline. If we were going to get beaten, we wanted to blame ourselves. People will say there was an awful lot of game after that [first] goal, but it was a turning point."

Martin O'Neill spoke of an "amazing game" and admitted he almost lost track of the score. Appraised of Allardyce's comments, the Villa manager observed that his team had been denied two blatant penalties in the first leg. "You could go on forever and a day about these things," he said. "But over the two legs I think we deserved to go through.

"My team grew up tonight. We started nervously before we finally got a bit of life about us. But even at 5-2 we were making mistakes. The euphoria of being in that position made us lose concentration. But we made it and I'm absolutely delighted for the players."

O'Neill had special praise for Milner, hailing him as "sensational" in his new central-midfield role. He now has nine goals this season, underlining his credentials for a place in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad.

There were also goals for Richard Dunne and Emile Heskey before Blackburn retaliated through Martin Olsson and Brett Emerton. Ashley Young added insult to injury time with the game's 10th goal.

Blackburn, trailing 1-0 from Ewood Park, struck inside 10 minutes when Kalinic's header clipped Warnock's head on its way in: 0-1. Before Villa could settle, Olsson's header from Morten Gamst Pedersen's cross was parried by Brad Guzan to Kalinic, who sidefooted in: 0-2.

Warnock, sweeping in Young's cross as Nelsen appealed for a foul, halved the deficit and roused the crowd: 1-2. Soon, Agboblahor was felled by Samba and Milner scored from the spot: 2-2.

Villa retained possession well at the start of the second half, making Blackburn's 10 men do the chasing. Within eight minutes Dunne forced the ball in off Steven Nzonzi: 3-2. Before the hour, they had stretched their lead. Milner, perpetual motion personified, took a return pass from Heskey before hitting an angled shot from 25 yards: 4-2.

Heskey then rounded Robinson and could afford the luxury of falling on to his backside before scoring: 5-2. Blackburn delivered a sumptuous if vain riposte, Olsson executing a textbook overhead kick: 5-3. Emerton's volley, diverted past Guzan by Heskey, gave Blackburn hope: 5-4. But Young, racing clear before firing past Robinson, gave Villa the final word: 6-4.

For all Allardyce's anger, Villa had beaten Blackburn three times in as many weeks in cup competition. They now have the opportunity to win a trophy for the first time since 1996, when Brian Little's side routed Leeds 3-0. Whichever Manchester club awaits them, Villa are unlikely to find it so easy to update their silverware collection.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Guzan; Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; A Young, Milner, Petrov, Downing (Sidwell, 86); Agbonlahor, Heskey. Substitutes not used: Friedel (gk), L Young, Albrighton, Delfouneso, Delph, Beye.

Blackburn Rovers (4-1-4-1): Robinson; Chimbonda, Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Nzonzi (Reid, 61); Dunn (McCarthy, 56), Emerton, Pedersen, Olsson; Kalinic. Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Andrews, Hoillet, Di Santo, Dalgado.

Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor