Football: Yorke puts case for value of Romanian strike

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The Independent Online
The Aston Villa striker Dwight Yorke, who is seldom seen without a smile, is aiming to wipe the grins off the faces of Steaua Bucharest players by shooting his side into the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup.

Yorke threw Villa a lifeline when their third round, first leg tie in Romania looked to be drifting out of their grasp with a priceless second- half goal in Tuesday's 2-1 defeat.

Now the Trinidad and Tobago international is backing Brian Little's side to complete the job at Villa Park in two weeks' time knowing a 1-0 win will prove sufficient - as in the previous ties against Bordeaux and Athletic Bilbao.

"Their players seemed so cheerful and smiling throughout the game," Yorke said. "Perhaps it was something to do with the fact they went 2-0 up!

"But I don't know whether they realised just what that goal I scored means. Perhaps they will when they get to Villa Park. It was certainly vital to us.

"When we sat down in the dressing-room at half-time everyone was aware that we desperately needed to get a goal to give us even half a chance for the return leg.

"But the mood wasn't downbeat. We knew we hadn't played that badly, weren't far off getting it right, and just needed to tighten up - which is what we did in the second half.

"We managed to claw our way back to basically the position from which we had started the game, in the sense that losing 2-1 is the same as drawing 0-0 in terms of us needing a 1-0 win to go through.

"Now we are looking to finish them off - and we have to make sure that we go out and do a good professional job at Villa Park."

If Little returns to his tried and tested 5-3-2 system, then Stan Collymore will struggle to make it in the side. The pounds 7m striker again failed to deliver the goods in Bucharest, and it was he who conceded possession needlessly in the build-up to Steaua's first goal.

The Steaua coach, Mihai Stoichita, insisted his side would find it easier to score at Villa Park, but was still annoyed they had conceded a goal.

"I was looking for us not to concede a goal at home and we failed in that task, but we have the advantage and I am convinced we will find it easier to play at Villa Park than in Bucharest," he said. "I saw Villa play against Everton and they do leave a lot of space at home, which you can exploit if you are clever enough, and we have very good forwards.

"Their central defenders are all very tall but not very quick players, and we have players with pace who in one-to-one situations will be difficult to stop."

Stoichita added: "I am sure they will be aware that in every game we have scored away from home. We've managed two in each of the first two rounds in Europe and I am confident we can go through to the quarter-finals."