Three men sent off as Villa fall to McCarthy

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The Independent Online

Aston Villa forfeited the chance of a Uefa Cup challenge with a tame defeat at the hands of the side that finished seventh in the Spanish League after an Intertoto Cup semi-final second leg marked by a refereeing performance bordering on the incompetent.

Aston Villa forfeited the chance of a Uefa Cup challenge with a tame defeat at the hands of the side that finished seventh in the Spanish League after an Intertoto Cup semi-final second leg marked by a refereeing performance bordering on the incompetent.

Celta Vigo's 2-1 victory at Villa's temporary home will be remembered considerably less for the South African striker Benedict McCarthy's two goals than for the antics of Dieter Schoch, who issued 12 yellow cards and three reds, awarded Villa two penalties in the space of three minutes and - extraordinarily for an official from Switzerland - appeared to be carrying a faulty watch.

To the consternation of players, officials and supporters, Schoch blew for time with more than two minutes remaining on the stadium clock, then changed his mind when the error was pointed out and indicated with his fingers that five more minutes would be played. This, however, almost escaped notice amid the general mayhem.

In the dying seconds he sent off Alan Thompson for a mild gesture of retaliation against Vigo's Juanfran, the Villa substitute joining his team-mate Ian Taylor and the Spanish defender Juan Velasco as those seeing red.

The Villa manager, John Gregory, renowned for his outspoken opinions of Premiership referees, could barely find adequate words to describe Herr Schoch. "I had a phone call before the match to say that this guy takes things beyond the realms of intelligent behaviour and he lived up to his reputation. He is an embarrassment to Uefa," Gregory said.

Villa's injury-hit side were comfortably beaten, McCarthy catching their defence off guard to fire past David James after 10 minutes of the first half and heading the second when unmarked at a corner 12 minutes after half-time. Villa had missed the first of their penalties when Paul Merson's effort was saved, but scored the second through Gareth Barry.

Villa suffered further agonies. Steve Stone needed 17 stitches in facial wounds after the second penalty incident, courtesy of Juanfran's boot, while Gareth Southgate, still eager to leave the club, ruled himself out of any potential buyer's European campaign by merely taking part.

Aston Villa (5-3-2): James; Stone (Thompson, 45), Southgate, Barry, Samuel (Hendrie, 33), Wright; Taylor, Boateng, Merson; Joachim (Cooke, 74), Walker. Substitutes not used: Standing, McGrath, Lescott, Enckelman (gk).

Celta Vigo (4-2-3-1): Pinto; Velasco, Caceres, Sergio, Juanfran; Giovanella, Doriva; Lopez (Jesuli, 75), Karpin, Tomas (Djorovic, 30; Coira, 51); McCarthy. Substitutes not used: Pablo, Meña, Noguerol, Cavallero (gk).

Referee: D Schoch (Switzerland).

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