Football: Cole has final word

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The Independent Online
Aston Villa. . . . . . .0

Newcastle United. . . . 2

BILLED as king versus Cole, it was the Newcastle United striker who had the last word against Aston Villa's regal centre-half, Paul McGrath. The Newcastle No 9 scored his side's second of the day, and his 11th of the season, as Kevin Keegan's hungry, exciting team recorded their first away win in the Premiership.

After taking a point against the champions at Old Trafford, they added three at the home of the runners-up and they deserved nothing less. Perfectly organised in defence, inventive in midfield and with pace up front, they led Villa a merry dance, emulating Manchester United as the only other side to beat Ron Atkinson's team this season.

Villa's exertions in Europe in midweek may have played their part, but from the first Newcastle were the sharper and shortly after the hour Atkinson had taken, for him, the unusual step of throwing on both his substitutes.

By then Villa were a goal down. Cole had let them off when he beat the offside trap to shoot into the side-netting in the first half, but 50 seconds after the interval there was no escape for Villa. Shaun Teale's clearance fell straight to the dangerous Robert Lee, whose dart at Steve Staunton drew a blatant trip. Malcolm Allen scored his second penalty of the season, sending Nigel Spink the wrong way.

The home goalkeeper kept out near-post efforts from Cole and Peter Beardsley, and it was not until the 72nd minute that Mike Hooper, at the opposite end, had to make his first save when he clutched a Tony Daley shot. It was as good as over with 10 minutes to go, Beardsley selflessly feeding Cole after beating the offside trap, and although Spink blocked the first shot the striker tiptoed the rebound over the line.

Aston Villa (4-3-3): N Spink; N Cox, P McGrath, S Teale, S Staunton; K Richardson, G Cowans (R Houghton, 64 min), A Townsend; D Atkinson, G Whittingham (T Daley, 55 min), D Saunders. Sub not used: M Bosnich (gk). Manager: R Atkinson.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): M Hooper; S Watson, B Venison, K Scott, J Beresford; R Lee, P Bracewell, L Clark, M Allen; A Cole, P Beardsley. Subs not used: S Sellars, B Kilcline, P Srnicek (gk). Manager: K Keegan.

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset).

Goals: Allen pen (0-1, 46 min); Cole (0-2, 80 min).