Football: Yorke's eyes on Europe
Aston Villa 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1
Monday 21 April 1997
Aston Villa 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1
It was a game that marked Aston Villa's centenary of playing at Villa Park but having celebrated by dominating Spurs for long periods, Brian Little's side were grateful for a point in the end as Dwight Yorke's 81st- minute equaliser kept up their hopes of a place in next season's Uefa Cup.
Villa were on top throughout and it was against the run of play when the Swiss defender Ramon Vega made the most of a defensive mix-up to put the visitors ahead with his first goal since joining the club for pounds 3.7m in January.
Yorke dragged Villa level nine minutes from time with his 20th goal of the season to deny Spurs all three points, but Gerry Francis, the Spurs manager, was understandably delighted with his side: "With 13 first team players on the injury list I had no alternative but to play the youngsters including four teenagers," he said.
"We've had so many injuries it's been a hell of a season and I will be glad to see the back of it. We've run out of front players and this is proved by the fact that we do not have a goal-scorer in double figures this season, so to be in the top half of the table in view of all the injuries is amazing."
Little was also happy with a share of the spoils after falling behind, insisting that his side were still on course for a top-five finish and a Uefa Cup spot. "We had a lot of the play because Tottenham came to defend, but they caught us out with one attack and after that we were just glad to get something out of the game.
"Tottenham's main tactic was to soak up our pressure and it's been a long time since we played so much of the game in the opposition's half. It was a strange game and when we went behind it's easy to get a little bit edgy. But we got the equaliser and it might just turn out to be an important point for us.
"Some weeks it looks good and others it looks not so good, but we've just got to do our best in our last three games and hope that's enough for a European slot."
Francis, meanwhile, is waiting for Jurgen Klinsmann to clarify his future with Bayern Munich before deciding whether to launch a bid to take him back to Tottenham, following revelations that the German striker has recently bought a house in London.
"I've been in touch with Jurgen since he left the club because we were very friendly when he was here and got on very well," Francis said. "But he's married now and has a child and there hasn't really been any talk about Jurgen coming back to Tottenham.
"If he decides that he wants to come back to England then we would have to discuss what to do, but at the present time it hasn't been discussed."
n Brian Little is to be given nearly pounds 10m to spend on new players this summer from Villa's successful flotation on the stock exchange. The money raised from the share issue will be split into two sections, with pounds 5.5m lined up for ground improvements and the remaining pounds 9.725m going to Little to bolster his squad.
Goals: Vega (54) 0-1; Yorke (81) 1-1.
Aston Villa: Oakes; Nelson, Wright, Ehiogu, Staunton, Southgate (Hughes, h-t), Townsend, Taylor, Draper (Curcic, 66), Milosevic, Yorke. Substitutes not used: Joachim, Murray, Bosnich (gk).
Tottenham Hotspur: Walker; Austin, Edinburgh, Howells (Nethercott, 89), Calderwood, Vega, Sinton, Dozzell, Campbell, Sheringham, McVeigh (Fenn, 82). Substitutes not used: Hill, Brady, Bardsen (gk).
Referee: M Bodenham (East Looe).
Booked: Villa: Nelson. Tottenham: Edinburgh.
Man of the match: Townsend.
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