Yorke is equal to Bergkamp's best

Football

Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 2

This was a cup tie which showed why foreign players want to play in England, and why English clubs want to play foreigners. It was fast and furious, enterprising and open, and it was dominated by the goals of a Dutchman and a Trinidadian.

A brace apiece from Dennis Bergkamp and Dwight Yorke ensured parity in this Coca-Cola Cup semi-final first leg, but the scoreline was an inaccurate barometer of the game. The stadium may have been Arsenal's but the ball was Villa's. Their passing was measured and their movement imaginative, they were everything Bruce Rioch wants Arsenal to be. On the evidence of last night, and even taking into account Arsenal's injuries, he has some way to go.

Four months ago Aston Villa came to Highbury, defended, and were beaten. Their manager, Brian Little, admitted their attitude was a mistake and promised to attack this time.

Such pledges often prove to be empty bluster but Little was true to his word. Andy Townsend tested David Seaman in the fifth minute and although Savo Milosevic then shot so wide the ball went for a throw-in, the idea was there even if the execution was missing.

Villa's control stemmed from midfield. The Arsenal quartet did not look too impressive on paper; on grass they were even worse. Mark Draper and Townsend dictated the game; Tommy Johnson lit it up. For 27 minutes Arsenal barely got out of their half. Highbury was quiet and anxious.

But, as Auxerre and Parma can testify, it takes more than polished passing to overawe Arsenal and, on 27 minutes, they pro- duced a high quality move of their own. Bergkamp found Paul Merson who played the ball into Ian Wright. He laid it back and the Dutchman drove it in from 30 yards without breaking stride.

Six minutes later he struck again. Reacting first to a hurried clearance from Martin Keown, he slickly dummied Mark Bosnich before slipping the ball through the goalkeeper's legs. It was his 13th goal of the season.

Villa were stunned, but not bowed. Draper continued to conduct the midfield and, six minutes from the break, they were back in the game. A series of defensive howlers from Arsenal culminated in Yorke scoring from close range.

Arsenal gained some measure of possession after the interval but Villa were still the better side and, after 73 minutes, they drew level. Johnson freed Milosevic on the left and the Serb's excellent cross was headed in at the far post by Yorke.

Yorke should have scored his 19th of the season six minutes later. Johnson struck the bar from 20 yards but, as Yorke closed in to complete his hat- trick, Seaman made an instinctive save. Arsenal, too, could have won it, Merson sending Ray Parlour clear, only for Bosnich to deny him.

Villa will fancy their chances of reaching a record-equalling seventh final at Villa Park next Wednesday - but they will recall that less than a year ago Arsenal defeated them 4-0 on their own ground.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Linighan, Keown, Winterburn; Merson, Jensen, Hillier, Helder (Parlour, 65); Bergkamp, I Wright. Substitutes not used: Hartson, Morrow.

Aston Villa (3-5-2): Bosnich; Ehiogu, Southgate, Staunton; Charles, Draper, Townsend, Johnson, A Wright; Yorke, Milosevic. Substitutes not used: McGrath, Taylor, Oakes (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Portland).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee