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Milner strikes foundation for Villa Wemble final

Blackburn 0 Aston Villa 1

England midfielder James Milner last night boosted Aston Villa's dreams of ending a 14-year wait for a trophy.

Milner put his side in the driving seat in this Carling Cup semi-final tie by scoring his fifth goal in 11 games.

It was just the lift manager Martin O'Neill was looking for with the second leg to come at home next Wednesday.

Villa have not held silverware since winning the League Cup in 1996 but perhaps this could be their year. However they made hard work of it with Blackburn striker Ivan Kalinic twice hitting the post in the second half.

Villa dominated the first half and the only surprise was that they did not hold more than a one-goal advantage.

Blackburn were left chasing shadows after almost taking the lead in the third minute.

David Dunn turned quickly and fired in a shot that took a slight deflection and finished narrowly wide.

But that was as good as it got for Blackburn in the first 45 minutes with Villa quickly stepping up the pace.

The goal came in the 23rd minute when Milner galloped over the halfway line, released Stewart Downing and continued his run unhindered. Downing then played in a perfect ball and Milner took full advantage for his seventh goal of a fine season and one that he hopes ends with the World Cup in South Africa.

Gabriel Agbonlahor was then booked for simulation in the 40th minute following a challenge by Chris Samba inside the box.

Blackburn have not won now in nine games after beating Chelsea in the quarter-final and need to turn things around quickly if their season is not to implode.

Belfast Telegraph

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