Blackburn 0-1 Aston Villa

Aston Villa took a giant stride towards Wembley as James Milner's first-half winner gave them victory in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Blackburn Rovers.
Milner rounded off a devastating break after 23 minutes when he turned in Stewart Downing's cross as Villa swept the length of the field. 
It gave Martin O'Neill side a deserved advantage and provided a rich reward for Villa's attacking strategy as they dominated a jaded Blackburn side playing their second game this week. 
Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce felt the full force of Ewood Park's fury as his side laboured to make any impression on Villa in the early exchanges, with the half-time whistle being greeted by a chorus of jeering. 
But Blackburn improved hugely after the break only to find their luck was out as striker Nikola Kalinic twice hit the woodwork, firstly with a close-range header, then with a shot from 12 yards. 
Villa always carried the greater threat and will now be firm favourites to progress to a Carling Cup final date against either Manchester City or Manchester United, after next week's second leg at Villa Park. 
Blackburn's winless sequence now stretches to 12 games, although they did knock Chelsea out of this competition on penalties. 
And it is hard to see how they will turn this semi-final around on the evidence of current form. 
That would leave Allardyce and Blackburn with a fight for Premier League survival as their only goal for the rest of the season, a task to be played out in front of what appears to be an increasingly disenchanted Ewood Park public.
Allardyce employed Kalinic as a lone striker from the start - but he was knocking at a firmly closed door for long periods as he attempted to get the better of Villa's central defensive duo, Richard Dunne and James Collins.