Magpies' away draw tainted by Solano protest

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The Independent Football

Nolberto Solano, Newcastle United's Peruvian winger, yesterday found himself back in the headlines after the Magpies' Intertoto Cup opponents, Troyes, launched a protest over his inclusion in the team that drew 0-0 in the Stade de L'Aube on Tuesday in the first leg of the final-round tie.

Solano, who travelled to France on Monday amid reports that he is to be charged in connection with an investigation into passport irregularities, returned yesterday to learn that Uefa has received an official complaint.

Troyes have contacted the game's European governing body to query his participation in the tie. However, their protest seems doomed to failure, after a Uefa spokesman hinted that United have complied with the competition's regulations.

"They [Troyes] have made a protest to us and it will be dealt with on Friday afternoon by the control and disciplinary body," the spokesman said.

"The basis for the complaint is the nationality of the player, but I can tell you that with regard to Uefa regulations, we don't have any limit on the number of foreign players you can field in our competitions.

"The player is Peruvian registered and, in my opinion, I don't see any problem."

On the pitch, the the first leg tie may have ended goalless, but only after the visitors were forced to ride their luck in the face of an onslaught from both their hosts and the weather.

Indeed, had it not been for the goalkeeper Shay Given, who twice saved from Nicolas Goussé and pulled off another important stop from Farid Ghazi before the break, the tie could have been beyond the Magpies.

The Aston Villa manager John Gregory has promised to field an attacking line-up for the second leg of their final-round tie against Basle at Villa Park on 21 August following his side's 1-1 draw in Switzerland.

Villa must now be favourites to secure their place in this season's Uefa Cup, having already come back from 2-1 first-leg deficits on two occasions – to the Croatian side Slaven Belupo and Rennes from France. In fact, they might have come away with more from their match at St Jakob Park had it not been for a 75th-minute error from the visiting goalkeeper Peter Enckelman, which gave the Swiss team their goal.

Gregory's positive intentions are likely to mean a return for David Ginola, with the French winger again forced to watch from the bench against a Basle side coached by the former Tottenham manager Christian Gross – despite the key role he has played in Villa's progress in the tournament so far.

Ginola scored a vital goal in Croatia, before setting up both the home and away goals in the semi-final success over Rennes, but was not given a chance by Gregory in front of a 25,000 crowd in Basle.

Gregory admitted it was tough to leave a player of Ginola's "ability and quality" out of the side, although one spark of creativity might have led to more than captain Paul Merson's 59th-minute deadlock-breaker. Merson was left with a simple finish after the Basle goalkeeper Pascal Züberbuhler had failed to hold on to a cross-cum-shot from Hassan Kachloul.

Defensively Villa were resolute and assured, and, on two first-half occasions when the backline was breached, Enckelman made superb saves to twice deny Hakan Yakin. But then the young Finnish goalkeeper spilled a Carlos Varela shot into the path of the lurking Christian Gimenez for a finish into an empty net.

Fabien Barthez has given Manchester United a boost ahead of Sunday's Charity Shield by stating that he wants to finish his career at Old Trafford. The French World Cup-winning goalkeeper quickly won over the fans in his first season following his £7.8m move from Monaco by helping the United retain the Premiership title.

"I know I want to finish my career at Manchester United. My first season was perfect as far as I was concerned. It couldn't have gone much better," he said.

"It was everything I had hoped for and more. I have been playing first team football for 10 years and always enjoyed myself but never more so than last season.

"I wouldn't criticise any of the other clubs I've played with. I enjoyed my time at Toulouse, Marseille and Monaco. But Manchester United is the club I want to be at. I love it.

Barthez went on to say: "My contract runs for another five years when I will be 35 and I certainly want to stay until then."

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