Villa prove too much for Pompey

PORTSMOUTH: Aston Villa booked their place in the semi-finals of this season's English League Cup with a 4-2 win away to Premier League strugglers Portsmouth at Fratton Park here on Tuesday.

Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov put through his own net in the 10th minute to give Pompey, the top flight's bottom club, the lead.

But minutes later any joy home fans might have been feeling was curtailed when England striker Emile Heskey equalised for Villa.

And before the half-hour mark Pompey's Premier League rivals were in front through James Milner.

Stewart Downing, the former Middlesbrough wing, marked his first start for Villa by sealing the Midlands club's win 16 minutes from time.

Substitute Nwankwo Kanu pulled a goal back for Pompey in the 87th minute but a minute from time Young scored Villa's fourth.

Portsmouth gave manager Avram Grant, whose first game in charge was last weekend's 4-1 league defeat by champions Manchester United, something to smile about with an unexpected goal.

Danny Webber's corner was poorly struck yet Villa captain Petrov managed to slice it into his own net.

But two minutes later Villa were level with Milner's ball, which evaded the Portsmouth defence, giving Heskey the chance to chip over Asmir Begovic.

England international Milner showed he could finish too when, in the 27th minute, he cut in from the left and left Begovic helpless with a well-struck shot into the far corner.

Grant brought on veteran striker Nwankwo Kanu but in the 74th minute Downing set the seal on Villa's victory by heading in Ashley Young's cross.

Kanu found the target from close range before Young shot high into the roof of the net.