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O'Neill relieved to see off Palace and turn focus to Carling final

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill praised the commitment of his players as they put any thoughts of the Carling Cup final to one side to overcome Crystal Palace and move into the last eight of the FA Cup.

Villa will be bidding to win their first trophy for 14 years when they do battle with Manchester United on Sunday.

But there was no holding back by the players on duty against Neil Warnock's side as two late John Carew penalties secured a 3-1 success in the replay -- and an away clash with Reading.

O'Neill said: "I'm naturally delighted for the club but more genuinely pleased for the players. They were prepared to go for it and I didn't see one shirking anything at all in preparation for Sunday. That speaks volumes for the team."

O'Neill has plenty of respect for Reading, who won 3-2 at West Brom, but will now turn his thoughts to the meeting with Alex Ferguson's side.

He said: "Reading have had a wonderful FA Cup. It doesn't seem to matter to them where they go. They seem to be able to win away from home.

"But, for the first time, I will be able to concentrate now on the Carling Cup final."

Brian McDermott, meanwhile, insists Reading will not fear FA Cup quarter-final opponents Villa after securing a place in the last eight for the first time since 1927 with a memorable win over West Brom in a pulsating fifth-round replay at the Hawthorns.


Most of the post-match talk surrounded a mass melee after the final whistle involving players, officials and stewards -- with Royals winger Jobi McAnuff seeing red.

McDermott felt the situation was "unnecessary" and criticised stewards for "definitely over-reacting", while promising to review television footage before considering an appeal against McAnuff's dismissal.

He was more comfortable talking about the Berkshire club's historic achievement.

"For me the key is the football, we're in the last eight and I'm proud of all the players," said McDermott.

"It was a great night, a fantastic cup tie. It's put us back on the map a little bit and I'm pleased about that. We're one step away from Wembley."

Albion head coach Roberto Di Matteo could not hide his disappointment at bowing out of the competition.

"I'm destroyed," he said.

Albion must now turn their focus back to securing promotion from the Championship. Di Matteo added: "We have to pick ourselves up to get going again."