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BBC Sport's John Murray
"Far from dull"
 real 14k

Aston Villa manager John Gregory
"When he took his shirt off, he got punished for it"
 real 56k

Manchester City manager Joe Royle
"I think we did score the best goal of the four"
 real 56k

Saturday, 16 December, 2000, 17:30 GMT
Villa and City late show ends all square
Steve Howey, Laurent Charvet and Paul Marson
Paul Merson (r) gave the crowd something to cheer
Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester City

After a dour first half, Aston Villa's clash with Manchester City burst into life after 65 minutes when Alf Inge Haaland's second half strike lit the blue touch paper.

Goals from Dion Dublin and Paolo Wanchope in the space of three minutes continued the fireworks.

But when Lee Hendrie saw red for dissent in the 80th minute it seemed Villa's under-fire chairman Doug Ellis would be facing yet more ammunition from the home supporters.

Anticipating the derision that would be directed at him, Ellis left his seat and as a result missed David Ginola's first goal for Villa which capped a classic spell of football.

Frustration

The result is Villa's fourth successive draw but when Hendrie was dismissed by referee Andy D'Urso, another defeat from a fixture in which they have a poor record seemed the most likely outcome.

The match was played out against a backdrop of frustration and the first half, but for a moment of magic from Paul Merson, gave the crowd little to cheer.

Villa's playmaker set off on a direct run from the half-way line before lifting a deceptive chip over the stranded Nicky Weaver only to see his effort rebound off the crossbar.

By then, Haaland should have given the visitors the lead after being presented with a gilt-edged opportunity by the impressive Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Keeper clanger

The Norwegian could only side-foot a tame shot across the face of David James' goal.


We're better than a struggling side on our best form and overall it's coming together nicely
  Joe Royle,
Man City manager
But City's skipper made amends in the second half and set his 200th game in England in motion.

Wright-Phillips found Wanchope and, with a clever back-heel, the Costa Rican sent his skipper through on goal.

Dublin rose to meet Ginola's cross and nod Villa back into the game a year to the weekend after suffering his life-threatening neck injury.

But, moments later, it was City who were celebrating again following a mistake by want-away James.

The England goalkeeper could not hold Mark Kennedy's shot from the left and instead parried the ball into the path of the on-rushing Wanchope.

After Hendrie's dismissal Villa threw everything at Weaver's goal but were left frustrated by a couple of penalty calls which fell on deaf ears.


We've been waiting three months for that and I hope we don't have to wait another three
  John Gregory, Aston Villa manger, on Ginola's goal
But that was before Ginola's intervention which sent Villa Park into delirium.

Ellis was not around to see the goal and the subsequent yellow card the Frenchman received for his exuberant celebrations.

In taking his shirt off Ginola was keen to display that contrary to his manager's opinion he clearly does not think he is carrying excess "timber".

Villa's efforts ensured the club picked up a point but the fans will not be satisfied until the chairman matches his player's efforts in bringing in new faces.


Aston Villa: James, Wright, Southgate, Barry, Alpay, Stone, Ginola, Boateng, Hendrie, Dublin, Merson.
Subs: Delaney, Staunton, De Bilde, Samuel, Enckelman.

Manchester City: Weaver, Tiatto, Charvet, Howey, Dunne, Whitley, Horlock, Haaland, Wright-Phillips, Wanchope, Goater.
Subs: Wiekens, Dickov, Prior, Kennedy, Wright.

Referee: A D'Urso (Billericay).

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