Football: Milosevic breaks down Bordeaux to end Villa's Continental frustration

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The Independent Online
Aston Villa 1

Bordeaux 0

(Villa win 1-0 on aggregate)

Savo Milosevic emerged as Aston Villa's unlikely Uefa Cup salvation after 110 minutes of frustration at Villa Park last night, ensuring that England will have two representatives in the second round after an evening of mixed fortunes.

The Yugoslav striker, largely confined to the substitutes' bench since the summer arrival of Stan Collymore, swept home a cross from substitute Gary Charles with the prospect of a penalty shoot-out looming after Villa's French opponents had presented a seemingly impenetrable defensive barrier.

Milosevic started only after an injury to midfield linchpin Mark Draper forced the manager, Brian Little, to reshuffle his personnel and tactics following a goalless first leg. The Serb, hugely popular with Villa's fans despite his erratic form, lined up alongside the under-pressure Collymore with Dwight Yorke tucking in behind the pair as Little gambled on attack.

However, lack of penetration, particularly from the flanks, combined with substandard finishing when rare breakthroughs were achieved appeared likely to leave Villa at risk of an exit on penalties until Bordeaux's legs and concentration finally gave out in the second period of extra time.

Villa were beginning to find more gaps opening up for them in the minutes before the decisive goal and Collymore, who looked as strong as anyone in the later stages, was unlucky not to seize the glory himself with a tremendous volley that Ulrich Rame saved with his fists more by instinct than judgment.

Moments later it was Collymore who spotted Charles in space on the right and on a night of poor service from the wings the substitute managed at last to deliver the pass required and Milosevic swept home from six yards.

It made amends for the miss of the night in the first period of extra time, when Collymore dispossessed Bordeaux defender Nisa Saveljic and set up Milosevic for what looked like a certain goal, only for his team- mate's finishing to let him down, allowing Rame to save.

In a match regarded as critical to Villa's season following their poor start in the Premiership, the early exchanges suggested they were heading for another disappointment in Europe following last year's first-round defeat against Swedish part-timers Helsingborg.

Indeed, three times in the first 20 minutes only Mark Bosnich's excellence stood between Bordeaux and the away goal that would have left Villa facing a massive task to stay in the competition.

The Australian goalkeeper saved brilliantly to deny first Lilian Leslandes, who played despite carrying stitches in his left knee, then Johan Micoud and Sylvain Wiltord as the former French international Jean-Pierre Papin brought his clever touches to bear, and it was mystifying that Bordeaux's game plan thereafter was so negative.

Aston Villa (5-2-1-2): Bosnich; Nelson (Charles, 105), Ehiogu, Staunton, Southgate, Wright; Taylor, Grayson; Yorke; Milosevic, Collymore. Substitutes not used: Joachim, Curcic, Hughes, Scimeca, Murray, Oakes (gk).

Bordeaux (1-4-2-1-2): Rame; Gralak; Saveljic, Afanou, Diabate, Grenet; Pavon, Micoud (Luccin, 105); Papin (Masumpa, 62); Wiltord, Laslandes (Diawara, 82). Substitutes not used: Menzo (gk), Ferrier, Ricardinho, Gomis.

Referee: K Fisker (Denmark).