FA Cup - Late Carew double as Villa down Palace

Eurosport - Wed, 24 Feb 21:34:00 2010

Crystal Palace defender Matt Lawrence endured a night to forget by giving away two late penalties, dispatched by John Carew, as Aston Villa ran out 3-1 winners in their FA Cup fifth-round replay at Villa Park.

Aston Villa's John Carew (R) and Crystal Palace's Claude Davis (L) battle for the ball - 0

Villa went ahead three minutes before half-time when Gabriel Agbonlahor headed home James Milner's corner before Darren Ambrose's 73rd-minute spot-kick drew Palace level.

Nine minutes from time Lawrence hauled down Carew, who dusted himself off to slot home the resulting spot-kick, with the Norwegian repeating the feat eight minutes later.

Financially destitute Palace had suffered back-to-back home defeats since the initial fixture 10 days ago, dropping into the Championship relegation zone in the process, while Villa had only played once, putting five past Burnley on Sunday.

And Villa dominated the early exchanges, although it took 16 minutes for Martin O'Neill's side to fashion the first chance on goal.

Agbonlahor turned Lawrence and drove into the box, only to see Julian Speroni make himself big to block his shot.

Milner was pulling the strings for the home side and the England midfielder played Stephen Warnock through down the left channel, with the Villa full-back seeing his low cross blocked by Claude Davis with Carew waiting in the middle.

Davis nearly cost his side after 36 minutes when he appeared to foul Agbonlahor in the box; the Palace defender breathed a sigh of relief as referee Martin Atkinson waved play on.

However Villa's dominance in possession paid dividends when they took the lead, albeit in fortunate circumstances.

Palace boss Neil Warnock berated linesman Trevor Massey for incorrectly awarding a corner that led to Stiliyan Petrov's late equaliser in the initial fixture at Selhurst Park and has been asked by the FA to explain his comments.

And lightning struck twice for Warnock when Milner tussled with Davis on the left and the referee pointed to the corner flag, despite the Villa man taking the final touch to put the ball behind for what appeared to be a goal-kick.

Milner rubbed salt into Palace's wounds when he delivered a pinpoint ball to the near post which Agbonlahor, who had escaped the attention of Shaun Derry, glanced home.

Palace emerged from the break looking to put their opponents on the back foot and Nathaniel Clyne saw his drive fall the wrong side of Brad Guzan's post seconds after the restart.

Villa looked happy to sit back and hit Palace on the break, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young both going close.

As the clock ticked down the Premier League side let their guard slip and a hardworking Palace side began to enjoy strong spells of possession.

The visitors made their hosts pay when Johannes Ertl flicked on for Alan Lee, who, about to pull the trigger, was brought down by Warnock. Darren Ambrose scored his 17th goal of the season from the penalty spot.

Fabian Delph was replaced by Steve Sidwell as O'Neill looked to shore up his midfield but it took a moment of madness by veteran Lawrence to put Villa back in charge.

Agbonlahor slid in a diagonal ball to Carew, who had his back to goal, and the 35-year-old defender needlessly hauled down the Villa striker who fired an emphatic spot-kick past Speroni.

Lawrence was left to rue a second rash challenge on the night with just a minute left, this time fouling Carew, again not in a goalscoring position, from behind on the edge of the box.

And the Norwegian hit another unstoppable penalty as Villa, who face Manchester United in the Carling Cup final on Sunday, booked a quarter-final clash with Reading.

George Scott / Eurosport

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