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BBC Sport's Pat Murphy
"Poor defending by Villa"
 real 14k

Villa boss John Gregory
"I'm desperately disappointed"
 real 14k

BBC Sport Online
presents highlights from Villa Park
 real 56k

Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 20:43 GMT 21:43 UK
Varteks stun Villa
Varteks' Goran Granic (l) challenges Hassan Kachloul
Varteks' Goran Granic (l) challenges Hassan Kachloul
Aston Villa 2-3 Varteks

Aston Villa's Uefa Cup hopes were dealt a huge blow after they were beaten by an incisive Varteks side at Villa Park.

Villa twice fought back to equalise with goals from Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel.

But they had no answer when Sasa Bjelanovic grabbed the winner four minutes from time.

It was Bjelanovic's second goal of the night and he was the star for an impressive visiting side.

Villa boss John Gregory chose to rest three of his first-team regulars for the game.

Juan Pablo Angel
Angel scored two goals for Villa
Paul Merson, Lee Hendrie and Dion Dublin were not even selected on the bench and Steve Stone, Mustapha Hadji and Juan Pablo Angel came into Villa's starting line-up.

The decision looked to have backfired during a first half in which Villa were bereft of either ideas or imagination.

The only Villa player who looked a threat was the in-form Darius Vassell.

The England Under-21 striker had Villa's best chance of the period after half-an-hour, when he met Kachloul's cross first time, only to see his effort excellently saved by Danijel Mandaric.

This was a rare opportunity for Villa and the sparse crowd became increasingly impatient as the half wore on.

I live and die by my decisions and I stand by my team selection
John Gregory, who left out three regulars
Boos were echoing round Villa Park on the stroke of half-time when the visitors took the lead.

Devi Mukaj strode forward confidently before slipping a beautiful pass to Sasa Bjelanovic.

The striker got ahead of the home defence before putting the ball through Peter Schmeichel's legs from 10 yards out.

Villa had far more purpose after the interval and equalised after only nine minutes of the restart.

Kachloul sent in an excellent cross from the left and Stone collected in the far corner of the box.

He fired a wayward right-footed shot but Angel was on had on the edge of the six yard box to steer the ball home with a first-time effort.

Peter Schmeichel goes forward in search of an equaliser
Peter Schmeichel went forward in search of an equaliser
But Villa's parity lasted only 10 minutes. Zoran Kastel picked up the ball 25 yards from Villa's goal and advanced to the edge of the area before feeding Veldin Karic.

The long-haired striker took a good touch before poking the ball past Schmeichel.

Angel came to Villa's rescue again 20 minutes from time when he headed an excellent Kachloul cross home from close range.

Yet it was Varteks who again had the last laugh, with the combination of Mukaj and Bjenanovic again decisive.

Mukaj sent in a delicate cross from the left and Bjelanovic slid in to neatly slot home.

Aston Villa: Schmeichel, Delaney, Wright, Mellberg, Alpay, Boateng, Stone, Hadji, Kachloul, Angel, Vassell. Subs: Staunton, Enckelman, Ginola, Barry, Balaban, Moore, Samuel.

Varteks: Madaric, Kristic, Rezic, Granic, Hrman, Mukaj, Mumlek, Sabolcki, Kastel, Karic, Bjelanovic. Subs: Andricevic, Borovic, Rumbak, Balajic, Sklepic, Safaric, Drobne.

Referee: Paulo Costa (Portugal).

Links to more Uefa Cup stories are at the foot of the page.


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