Game #4356

1993-94

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Position:

Final

League Cup Final

Manchester United

Wembley Stadium

Attendance: 77,231

Sunday, 27 March 1994

Villa win their first major trophy since lifting the European Cup in 1982 as they sweep aside Manchester United in a dominant League Cup final display.

Aston Villa

3-1

Manchester United

Scorer(s) | Dalian Atkinson | 25’ | Dean Saunders | 75’ | 90’ pen |

Assist(s) | Dean Saunders | 25' | Kevin Richardson | 75' |

AT A GLANCE

Game #4356

Season | 1993-94 |
Matchday | #48 |
Manager Game | #150 |
Sunday, 27 March 1994

MATCH SUMMARY

Manager | Ron Atkinson |
Referee | Keith Cooper, Pontypridd |
KO | 17.00 |
HT Score | 1-0 |
FT Score | 3-1 |
FT Result | Won |
Last 5 Games | WLLLW |

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Keith Cooper

MATCH INCIDENTS

Keith Cooper

Villa

💥+ |

Manchester United

🟥 |

🟨 | Booking
🟥 | Sending off
💥+ | Incidents e.g. penalty awarded

💥- | Incidents e.g. penalty conceded, goal disallowed

💥 | Incidents e.g. refused clear pen

🆘 | Notably poor refereeing performance    

TEAM STATS

Starting XI Average Age
| 27.54 |

Oldest Player |
CB Paul McGrath | 34.33 |

Youngest Player |
F Graham Fenton | 19.86 |

TEAM NEWS

Villa make three changes for the League Cup final with Andy Townsend, Tony Daley and Dalian Atkinson being recalled, whilst Ray Houghton, Steve Froggatt and Garry Parker miss out.

UNAVAILABLE

Not recorded

MATCH STATS

Not recorded

MANAGER

Ron Atkinson

STAFF

Assistant Manager: Jim Barron

STARTING LINE UP

GK Mark Bosnich |
LB Steve Staunton |
RB Earl Barrett |
CB Paul McGrath |
CB Shaun Teale |
M Andy Townsend |
M Kevin Richardson |
W Tony Daley |
F Dean Saunders |
F Graham Fenton |
CF Dalian Atkinson |

SUBSTITUTES

RB Neil Cox for LB Steve Staunton | 79’ |

UNUSED SUBSTITUTES

GK Nigel Spink |
M Ray Houghton |

THE OPPOSITION

Sealey (ex), Parker, Irwin, Bruce (McClair), Pallister, Giggs (Sharpe), Ince, Kanchelskis (s/o), Keane, Cantona, Hughes. Manager: Alex Ferguson.

ex: Also played for the Villa

g: Scored

s/o: Sent off

s-: Sub off; s+: Sub on

ON THIS DAY

Villa won their first trophy under Ron Atkinson and their fourth League Cup in an outstanding Wembley performance despite coming into the game on the back of three successive poor Premier League defeats.

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MATCH TIMELINE

25’ Goal, 1-0, Dalian Atkinson, Assist by Dean Saunders
HT Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester United
75’ Goal, 2-0, Dean Saunders, Assist by Kevin Richardson
79’ Sub off, Steve Staunton, Sub on, Neil Cox
83’ Goal, 2-1, (Manchester United), Mark Hughes
90’ Sending off, (Manchester United), Andrei Kanchelskis
90+1’ Goal, 3-1, Dean Saunders (pen)
FT Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United

MANAGER WATCH

POSITION

2021-22 Matchweek 38.jpg

MATCH PROGRAMME

MATCH PROGRAMME

Quotation Marks.png

QUOTES

“My players did exactly what I asked.

"We set out a tactical plan to counter United's tremendous strength in midfield and it worked perfectly.

"We felt all along we were fated to win the Coca Cola Cup even when we went 3-0 down at Tranmere in the semi-final second leg.

“We showed such character against United."

Ron Atkinson.

Villa Boy.png

Click image for match VIDEO CONTENT brought to you by VILLA BOY

Quotation Marks.png

*Birmingham Evening Mail*
Monday, 28 March 1994

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Daily Mirror - Monday 28 March 1994



THE SEEMINGLY invincible giants of English football were reduced to mere mortals and it was a painful sight at Wembley. Ron Atkinson yesterday turned the Coca- Cola Cup final upside down with his cocktail of laugh a minute build-up to the final. But while it was the vodka and coke success as the Aston Villa boss led his men to a Royal Lancaster banquet it was Diet Coke for Alex Ferguson's side. who were shockingly lightweight in attacking ideas. Manchester United have entranced, entertained and ripped apart opponents all season. But when they were called upon to complete the first leg of an historic treble, Fergie's team were simply feeble. Wobbles Old Trafford's galaxy of stars on Sunday as they suffered of Wembley wobbles. Cup f ous for forgetting the losers the reverse is true. The beaten United is how it wi crusade to retain the chain: as the bid to return to Wem Cup final. In this, their 50th match £3omillion strike force wi whimper in front of former Man, ed central defender Paul Mr rock solid partner Shaun T( Flamboyant Frenchman was a woeful shadow of the' graced the season with his ent. Clearly the burden of an impending fivematch ban and the fear of further heavy punishment had he received yet another red card in this Cup final muted his effectiveness Ryan Giggs, who Fergie wouldn't part with for £lsmillion of AC Milan's money, was substituted after displaying only a rare flash of his Welsh wizardy on the wing

Injustice Mark Hughes pulled back a late goal but United never got going on the flanks either with substitute Lee Sharpe or Andrei Kanchelskis. Ukranian Kanchelskis was the most likely to kick-start United into action and it was a grave injustice when he was sent off just before the last kick of the game a penalty he had conceded by handling on the goal-line. Perhaps Ferguson was rash to protest too much over Peter Schmeichel's dismissal in the FA Cup against Charlton. There was no disputing Cantona's red card at Swindon, but there might have been some sympathy for Cantona's

of Wembley disaster sending off against Arsenal. However, what was the point of referee Keith Cooper dismissing Kanchelskis with only seconds to go! There certainly could be no advantage to Villa as the bewildered winger stood behind the goal to see Dean Saunders play out the last act in a dramatic climax by scoring from the spot. Kanchelskis halted his walk back to the dressin -room. remembering he had his losers' medal to collect. has been slowly whittled down to just three. And to add insult to yesterday's painful defeat, the opposing Villa fans celebrated by stealing United s anthem 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'. His manager consoled him with a handshake and a hug as Cooper endured the gauntlet of hate as he headed to the tunnel end packed with Manchester United fans. Kanchelskis had found CHANCE VILLA go two-up with 15 minutes left when Welsh international striker Saunders flicks home skipper Kevin Richardson's inswinging free-kick. Saunders that put Atkinson clear to flick his shot past the advancing Les Sealey for his 15th goal of the season. Paul Parker's foul on Daley on the edge of the box proved decisive when a free kick by skipper and Man of the Match Kevin Richardson was instinctively stabbed in the corner by poacher Saunders. in the 82nd minute was punched away only as far as Roy Keane, whose shot was first stopped by Hughes and then slammed into the corner from close range. Off came skipper Steve Bruce for Brian McClair to join in a desperate all-out attack. But the statistics show an alarming ineffectual performance by Manchester United, with only three shots on target and three off target. Ron Atkinson threw his arms in the air in delight as he will take personal satisfaction in halting his old club's bid to wrap up every single domestic prize. There was no style, no inventiveness and no way of depriving Big .Ron of another Wembley triumph. Denis :Erwin's corner From Back Page three players sent off a Roy Keane receiving caution that that puts him out of the FA Cup semi-final. "But I think the response will be positive. We've got Liverpool at home and Blackburn away in the week and that is meat and drink to my players, they won't have time to feel sorry for themselves. "We have been defeated today but we are not devastated." Kanchelskis was sent off for the first time in his career for handling Dalian Atkinson's shot and Dean 5 Saunders stepped up : ' strike home the penalty that completed Villa's victory. But the Ukrainian insisted: "I should not have been sent off. I did not handle the ball deliberately - it was 50/50." He completed exactly the kind , \ ' but in this case rssurprising case a failed to shine i_ fi na l s are e cribl''s significance for will affect their apionship as well FA 4. ' ey for the f the season , a McGrath °cGreadtuhceadndtohias -4 I • 'as Manchester Unit - • Cantona ;nfeoxErViTcrejapertdioWnhaT tall[ TUBErr,h; PI TURc By ALBERT COOPEN DALIAN Atkinson coolly steers the ball past the FIRST FoRwARD advancing Les Sealey, after a neat one-two with Dean Saunders, to give Villa a vital 26th minute breakthrough. : 1.1!,1 " • 7' • •

SECOND himself the last man in defence as United pushed everything forward in search of an equaliser, Tony Daley struck the post, and Dalian Atkinson's shot was stopped on the line as the ball struck Kancheiskis' upper arm. Even the Villa players protested the senselessness of such a sending off. Now Kanchelskis will join Cantona on the sidelines as the fourth player to be sent off in the past few weeks a heavy toll for United's bid for the double. Once 16 points ahead of Black-- burn, the runaway lead

Sympathy That will be hard to do and for once the sympathy will belong to Manchester United. Their treble bid was derailed when Villa opened the scoring in the 26th minute. Atkinson began the move that involved Graham Fenton, Andy Townsend and a flick by

Irish Independent - Monday 28 March 1994

Atkinson's battle-plan works like a dream ASTON VILLA- 3 NAN OTII.I
SNOOKER "This certainly beats the snooker medal which everyone keeps reminding me about," he added with a grin. Staunton. who was given a few difficult moments by flying United winger Andrei Kanchelskis, revealed: "A few weeks ago I doubted whether I'd be fit to play in the final. "After losing the League last season to United, it's great for the lads to come here today and put one over them." Once again. Mark Bosnich came to Villa's rescue. The former United 'keeper pulled off a stunning finger-tip save to deny Mark Hughes an equaliser four minutes from time as United looked to take the game into extra-time. It was Hughes, three minutes earlier, who had given United hope after Villa had raced into a seemingly invincible 2-0 lead with goals from Dalian Atkinson (23 minutes) and Dean Saunders (75). In the final seconds, Kanchelskis was sent off for handling Atkinson's goal-bound shot and Saunders sealed victory from the penalty spot. Amidst the United wreckage, one player walked tall for the Reds. Corkman Roy Keane ran his heart out and was, by some margin. his team's most effective player. Sadly, Wembley has not been a happy hunting ground for the Republic of Ireland midfielder. In three visits to the Twin Towers for major club finals, Keane has ended up with losers' medals with Forest in the English FA Cup (1991) and League Cup ('92) and now, again, with United. Keane was United's driving force from first to last and, fittingly, he created the goal for Hughes. Fighting back the disappointment of another Wembley defeat, the Irish ace was upbeat about the remainder of the United season. "I came to United to win trophies and that's still my ambition," he said. "We have the League and the FA Cup to aim at and the character in the squad is good enough to bounce back after this." Keane, fined L 5,000 a week's wages by Alex Ferguson for losing his temper too often, concentrated on letting his legs and lungs do the talking and was my 'Man of the Match.' Beforehand, the United fans taunted their former manager with chants of: "Are you watching Big Fat Ron." Ron was and he enjoyed every moment of the occasion just as he had three years ago when he masterminded Sheffield Wednesday's League Cup win over United. In the game of Wembley wits, Atkinson's decision to play a 4-5-1 pressing formation gave Villa the tactical edge over United, for whom Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantons were strangely subdued. Villa, who beat United in the 1957 English FA Cup final at Wembley, are back in Europe but United men must wait a little longer for that privilege. THE cockerel never crowed and the treble will not be this season. Manchester United, for all their flair and adventure, were well beaten by Aston Villa in the Coca-Cola Cup final at Wembley yesterday. Worse, Andrei Kanchelskis was sent off for an instinctive handball a minute from time and becomes the third player, together with Eric Cantona and Roy Keane, to be suspended for the semi-final of the English FA Cup against Oldham Athletic - on April 10. Do not weep, though, for the apparent victory over high quality individuals for a team of greater tactical organisation and willingness to the cause. Prepared is the Villa motto, and we found just how much the claret and blues have been cheating on their supporters of late, just how much strength and speed and form their own £ll million team has been denying their supporters in the league while storing up for this one opportunity to take silver back to Villa Park. .. THE exasperation of the Villa manager, Ron Atkinson. at some of his senior players was shown in his team selection. He dropped Ray Houghton, the experienced Irish international, and brought in Graham Fenton. the fair-haired. pugnacious 19-year-old. By deploying Tony Daley and Dalian Atkinson wide on the flanks. the Villa manager reminded us how much he trusts in committed pace. And, yet, they were the adornments to victory. The anchor, the substance of it, was Kevin Richardson, an unsung worker and captain, who has won league championship medals with Everton and Arsenal • and had until yesterday twice played in this final and lost. His example, his tireless tackling and talking would not let Villa be over-run. If that sounds as if yesterday was a triumph for a functionary over all of the glitterati. then accept that as a valid part of football. But in the beginning, for 20 sustained minutes, it was United who tested Villa's defence. Cantona, booed at every stroke and later to become the annonymous Frenchman, first hit a deep, swinging cross from the right, which Ryan Gigp headed over the bar. Then. Mark Hughes was squeezed out by the combined efforts of Paul McGrath and Richardson. GIGGS danced between Earl Barrett and McGrath and, from his low cross, the outstretched foot of Hughes prodded the ball agonisingly wide. Mark Bosnich watched it with relief, and moments later, again from Hughes, had to produce a strange, flapping save to deflect the ball. Far, far away, Les Sealey, the stand-in for Peter Schmichel, appeared as much u spectator as he had been in the stands all season. Suddenly it changed. There was a warning after 22 minutes when the United goalkeeper had to arch his back and palm over an inswinging corner from Stephen Staunton. But that was precious little warning to the lightning strike of Villa's goal four minutes later. The goal had its origins wide on 1,. ' 5... ... 0 * 4 ..-^ so .. ' , 4 ? ; 5 ,"*.'''*,'' 41 - , 01 - ,.r,?-' ..A. k 4 4 .0 • V/ ''4' ,.- , ft..: --•(,, .°-. .40 , •• # .4 t BATTLE STATIONS . . . Roy Keane fends off Aston Villa's Dean Saunders daring the Coca-Cola Cup final at Wembley. 4 iii iti I CUP THAT CHEERS . . . Astom Villa skipper Kevin Richardson holds the trophy. =3 is • REPORT ROB HUGHES Villa's right flank, where Giggs jostled Barrett, and was adjudged to have fouled. So swift was the free kick taken, so rapid did the ball travel from Fenton to And 9 Townsend to Dean Saunders, that Manchester were scarcely alert. And. when Saunders, with speed of thought, used his instep to deftly volley the ball down, Atkinson was on it instantly. composing himself to flick the ball wide of Seeley for his sixth goal of the Coca-Cola Cup campaign. Shaun Teale, McGrath and Richardson were pillars of calm, though midway through the second half it was a desperate late boot from Richardson that foiled Lee Sharpe, the substitute for the ineffectual Gigp, after Cantons had headed down an angled centre from Steve Bruce. AFTER 76 minutes Villa's lead was doubled. Daley was fouled, Richardson swung the free kick in with his right foot and, u it curved, Saunders, with pure instinct, thrust out a foot and deflected the ball past Seeley inside the near post. United, still looking the sharper talents, still in control of their temper and the tempo, fashioned a rousing finish after Hughes stole a brilliant goal eight minutes from time. Bosnich had failed more than once to reach United corners and, when he did so again, Roy Keane tried a shot which hit the back of Hughes. Instantly the Welshman controlled the ball and, with his second touch, slipped the ball over the line. Committed as they were to pouring forward, United had nobody but Kanchelskis, the Ukranian winger, back when Daky broke on the left in the final minute. DALEY'S shot rebounded off an upright post, Atkinson connected with a thoughtful right-foot shot and Kanchelskis impulsively prevented the ball from entering the net with his left hand. The referee, obeying the letter of a very harsh law. gave Kanchelskis a red card, gave Villa a penalty, and Saunders put the game beyond doubt by beating Sealey from the spot. ASTON VILLA Bostecti; Barret, lAcGrah, Tule, Mew Felon, Wordy% Toward. Dell, Saunders. Sok Cox Simian (10 mw. VT14441) Soler. Pm*. Bruce. NUM men. KumMlN* Kws. Ince, Coggs. Hopes sags Go (6Z McCiair to Bruce (63). Retiree K Cowper. C The Times, Lott). Irish army THE Republic of Ireland's 'crocks' found their piece of gold buried in the turf under Wembley's twin towers as Aston Villa derailed Manchester United's treble charge. Veteran Paul McGrath, carrying the scars of eight knee operations, Andy Townsend and Steve Staunton, whose preparations for the final were disrupted by injury, emerged as central characters in Villa's thrilling 3-1 triumph. And Irish manager Jack Charlton afterwards saluted the performance of Villa's Republic trio Ray Houghton was surprisingly dropped in favour of little known Graham Fenton as Villa joined Liverpool and Nottingham Forest as the only four time winners of the League Cup. WEMBLEY SPECIAL Irish army THE Republic of Ireland's 'crocks' found their piece of gold buried in the turf under Wembley's twin towers as Aston Villa derailed Manchester United's treble charge. Veteran Paul McGrath, carrying the scars of eight knee operations, Andy Townsend and Steve Staunton, whose preparations for the final were disrupted by injury, emerged as central characters in Villa's thrilling 3-1 triumph. And Irish manager Jack Charlton afterwards saluted the performance of Villa's Republic trio Ray Houghton was surprisingly dropped in favour of little known Graham Fenton as Villa joined Liverpool and Nottingham Forest as the only four time winners of the League Cup. WEMBLEY SPECIAL




Daily Mirror - Monday 28 March 1994



THE SEEMINGLY invincible giants of English football were reduced to mere mortals and it was a painful sight at Wembley. Ron Atkinson yesterday turned the Coca- Cola Cup final upside down with his cocktail of laugh a minute build-up to the final. But while it was the vodka and coke success as the Aston Villa boss led his men to a Royal Lancaster banquet it was Diet Coke for Alex Ferguson's side. who were shockingly lightweight in attacking ideas. Manchester United have entranced, entertained and ripped apart opponents all season. But when they were called upon to complete the first leg of an historic treble, Fergie's team were simply feeble. Wobbles Old Trafford's galaxy of stars on Sunday as they suffered of Wembley wobbles. Cup f ous for forgetting the losers the reverse is true. The beaten United is how it wi crusade to retain the chain: as the bid to return to Wem Cup final. In this, their 50th match £3omillion strike force wi whimper in front of former Man, ed central defender Paul Mr rock solid partner Shaun T( Flamboyant Frenchman was a woeful shadow of the' graced the season with his ent. Clearly the burden of an impending fivematch ban and the fear of further heavy punishment had he received yet another red card in this Cup final muted his effectiveness Ryan Giggs, who Fergie wouldn't part with for £lsmillion of AC Milan's money, was substituted after displaying only a rare flash of his Welsh wizardy on the wing

Injustice Mark Hughes pulled back a late goal but United never got going on the flanks either with substitute Lee Sharpe or Andrei Kanchelskis. Ukranian Kanchelskis was the most likely to kick-start United into action and it was a grave injustice when he was sent off just before the last kick of the game a penalty he had conceded by handling on the goal-line. Perhaps Ferguson was rash to protest too much over Peter Schmeichel's dismissal in the FA Cup against Charlton. There was no disputing Cantona's red card at Swindon, but there might have been some sympathy for Cantona's

of Wembley disaster sending off against Arsenal. However, what was the point of referee Keith Cooper dismissing Kanchelskis with only seconds to go! There certainly could be no advantage to Villa as the bewildered winger stood behind the goal to see Dean Saunders play out the last act in a dramatic climax by scoring from the spot. Kanchelskis halted his walk back to the dressin -room. remembering he had his losers' medal to collect. has been slowly whittled down to just three. And to add insult to yesterday's painful defeat, the opposing Villa fans celebrated by stealing United s anthem 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'. His manager consoled him with a handshake and a hug as Cooper endured the gauntlet of hate as he headed to the tunnel end packed with Manchester United fans. Kanchelskis had found CHANCE VILLA go two-up with 15 minutes left when Welsh international striker Saunders flicks home skipper Kevin Richardson's inswinging free-kick. Saunders that put Atkinson clear to flick his shot past the advancing Les Sealey for his 15th goal of the season. Paul Parker's foul on Daley on the edge of the box proved decisive when a free kick by skipper and Man of the Match Kevin Richardson was instinctively stabbed in the corner by poacher Saunders. in the 82nd minute was punched away only as far as Roy Keane, whose shot was first stopped by Hughes and then slammed into the corner from close range. Off came skipper Steve Bruce for Brian McClair to join in a desperate all-out attack. But the statistics show an alarming ineffectual performance by Manchester United, with only three shots on target and three off target. Ron Atkinson threw his arms in the air in delight as he will take personal satisfaction in halting his old club's bid to wrap up every single domestic prize. There was no style, no inventiveness and no way of depriving Big .Ron of another Wembley triumph. Denis :Erwin's corner From Back Page three players sent off a Roy Keane receiving caution that that puts him out of the FA Cup semi-final. "But I think the response will be positive. We've got Liverpool at home and Blackburn away in the week and that is meat and drink to my players, they won't have time to feel sorry for themselves. "We have been defeated today but we are not devastated." Kanchelskis was sent off for the first time in his career for handling Dalian Atkinson's shot and Dean 5 Saunders stepped up : ' strike home the penalty that completed Villa's victory. But the Ukrainian insisted: "I should not have been sent off. I did not handle the ball deliberately - it was 50/50." He completed exactly the kind , \ ' but in this case rssurprising case a failed to shine i_ fi na l s are e cribl''s significance for will affect their apionship as well FA 4. ' ey for the f the season , a McGrath °cGreadtuhceadndtohias -4 I • 'as Manchester Unit - • Cantona ;nfeoxErViTcrejapertdioWnhaT tall[ TUBErr,h; PI TURc By ALBERT COOPEN DALIAN Atkinson coolly steers the ball past the FIRST FoRwARD advancing Les Sealey, after a neat one-two with Dean Saunders, to give Villa a vital 26th minute breakthrough. : 1.1!,1 " • 7' • •

SECOND himself the last man in defence as United pushed everything forward in search of an equaliser, Tony Daley struck the post, and Dalian Atkinson's shot was stopped on the line as the ball struck Kancheiskis' upper arm. Even the Villa players protested the senselessness of such a sending off. Now Kanchelskis will join Cantona on the sidelines as the fourth player to be sent off in the past few weeks a heavy toll for United's bid for the double. Once 16 points ahead of Black-- burn, the runaway lead

Sympathy That will be hard to do and for once the sympathy will belong to Manchester United. Their treble bid was derailed when Villa opened the scoring in the 26th minute. Atkinson began the move that involved Graham Fenton, Andy Townsend and a flick by

Irish Independent - Monday 28 March 1994

Atkinson's battle-plan works like a dream ASTON VILLA- 3 NAN OTII.I
SNOOKER "This certainly beats the snooker medal which everyone keeps reminding me about," he added with a grin. Staunton. who was given a few difficult moments by flying United winger Andrei Kanchelskis, revealed: "A few weeks ago I doubted whether I'd be fit to play in the final. "After losing the League last season to United, it's great for the lads to come here today and put one over them." Once again. Mark Bosnich came to Villa's rescue. The former United 'keeper pulled off a stunning finger-tip save to deny Mark Hughes an equaliser four minutes from time as United looked to take the game into extra-time. It was Hughes, three minutes earlier, who had given United hope after Villa had raced into a seemingly invincible 2-0 lead with goals from Dalian Atkinson (23 minutes) and Dean Saunders (75). In the final seconds, Kanchelskis was sent off for handling Atkinson's goal-bound shot and Saunders sealed victory from the penalty spot. Amidst the United wreckage, one player walked tall for the Reds. Corkman Roy Keane ran his heart out and was, by some margin. his team's most effective player. Sadly, Wembley has not been a happy hunting ground for the Republic of Ireland midfielder. In three visits to the Twin Towers for major club finals, Keane has ended up with losers' medals with Forest in the English FA Cup (1991) and League Cup ('92) and now, again, with United. Keane was United's driving force from first to last and, fittingly, he created the goal for Hughes. Fighting back the disappointment of another Wembley defeat, the Irish ace was upbeat about the remainder of the United season. "I came to United to win trophies and that's still my ambition," he said. "We have the League and the FA Cup to aim at and the character in the squad is good enough to bounce back after this." Keane, fined L 5,000 a week's wages by Alex Ferguson for losing his temper too often, concentrated on letting his legs and lungs do the talking and was my 'Man of the Match.' Beforehand, the United fans taunted their former manager with chants of: "Are you watching Big Fat Ron." Ron was and he enjoyed every moment of the occasion just as he had three years ago when he masterminded Sheffield Wednesday's League Cup win over United. In the game of Wembley wits, Atkinson's decision to play a 4-5-1 pressing formation gave Villa the tactical edge over United, for whom Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantons were strangely subdued. Villa, who beat United in the 1957 English FA Cup final at Wembley, are back in Europe but United men must wait a little longer for that privilege. THE cockerel never crowed and the treble will not be this season. Manchester United, for all their flair and adventure, were well beaten by Aston Villa in the Coca-Cola Cup final at Wembley yesterday. Worse, Andrei Kanchelskis was sent off for an instinctive handball a minute from time and becomes the third player, together with Eric Cantona and Roy Keane, to be suspended for the semi-final of the English FA Cup against Oldham Athletic - on April 10. Do not weep, though, for the apparent victory over high quality individuals for a team of greater tactical organisation and willingness to the cause. Prepared is the Villa motto, and we found just how much the claret and blues have been cheating on their supporters of late, just how much strength and speed and form their own £ll million team has been denying their supporters in the league while storing up for this one opportunity to take silver back to Villa Park. .. THE exasperation of the Villa manager, Ron Atkinson. at some of his senior players was shown in his team selection. He dropped Ray Houghton, the experienced Irish international, and brought in Graham Fenton. the fair-haired. pugnacious 19-year-old. By deploying Tony Daley and Dalian Atkinson wide on the flanks. the Villa manager reminded us how much he trusts in committed pace. And, yet, they were the adornments to victory. The anchor, the substance of it, was Kevin Richardson, an unsung worker and captain, who has won league championship medals with Everton and Arsenal • and had until yesterday twice played in this final and lost. His example, his tireless tackling and talking would not let Villa be over-run. If that sounds as if yesterday was a triumph for a functionary over all of the glitterati. then accept that as a valid part of football. But in the beginning, for 20 sustained minutes, it was United who tested Villa's defence. Cantona, booed at every stroke and later to become the annonymous Frenchman, first hit a deep, swinging cross from the right, which Ryan Gigp headed over the bar. Then. Mark Hughes was squeezed out by the combined efforts of Paul McGrath and Richardson. GIGGS danced between Earl Barrett and McGrath and, from his low cross, the outstretched foot of Hughes prodded the ball agonisingly wide. Mark Bosnich watched it with relief, and moments later, again from Hughes, had to produce a strange, flapping save to deflect the ball. Far, far away, Les Sealey, the stand-in for Peter Schmichel, appeared as much u spectator as he had been in the stands all season. Suddenly it changed. There was a warning after 22 minutes when the United goalkeeper had to arch his back and palm over an inswinging corner from Stephen Staunton. But that was precious little warning to the lightning strike of Villa's goal four minutes later. The goal had its origins wide on 1,. ' 5... ... 0 * 4 ..-^ so .. ' , 4 ? ; 5 ,"*.'''*,'' 41 - , 01 - ,.r,?-' ..A. k 4 4 .0 • V/ ''4' ,.- , ft..: --•(,, .°-. .40 , •• # .4 t BATTLE STATIONS . . . Roy Keane fends off Aston Villa's Dean Saunders daring the Coca-Cola Cup final at Wembley. 4 iii iti I CUP THAT CHEERS . . . Astom Villa skipper Kevin Richardson holds the trophy. =3 is • REPORT ROB HUGHES Villa's right flank, where Giggs jostled Barrett, and was adjudged to have fouled. So swift was the free kick taken, so rapid did the ball travel from Fenton to And 9 Townsend to Dean Saunders, that Manchester were scarcely alert. And. when Saunders, with speed of thought, used his instep to deftly volley the ball down, Atkinson was on it instantly. composing himself to flick the ball wide of Seeley for his sixth goal of the Coca-Cola Cup campaign. Shaun Teale, McGrath and Richardson were pillars of calm, though midway through the second half it was a desperate late boot from Richardson that foiled Lee Sharpe, the substitute for the ineffectual Gigp, after Cantons had headed down an angled centre from Steve Bruce. AFTER 76 minutes Villa's lead was doubled. Daley was fouled, Richardson swung the free kick in with his right foot and, u it curved, Saunders, with pure instinct, thrust out a foot and deflected the ball past Seeley inside the near post. United, still looking the sharper talents, still in control of their temper and the tempo, fashioned a rousing finish after Hughes stole a brilliant goal eight minutes from time. Bosnich had failed more than once to reach United corners and, when he did so again, Roy Keane tried a shot which hit the back of Hughes. Instantly the Welshman controlled the ball and, with his second touch, slipped the ball over the line. Committed as they were to pouring forward, United had nobody but Kanchelskis, the Ukranian winger, back when Daky broke on the left in the final minute. DALEY'S shot rebounded off an upright post, Atkinson connected with a thoughtful right-foot shot and Kanchelskis impulsively prevented the ball from entering the net with his left hand. The referee, obeying the letter of a very harsh law. gave Kanchelskis a red card, gave Villa a penalty, and Saunders put the game beyond doubt by beating Sealey from the spot. ASTON VILLA Bostecti; Barret, lAcGrah, Tule, Mew Felon, Wordy% Toward. Dell, Saunders. Sok Cox Simian (10 mw. VT14441) Soler. Pm*. Bruce. NUM men. KumMlN* Kws. Ince, Coggs. Hopes sags Go (6Z McCiair to Bruce (63). Retiree K Cowper. C The Times, Lott). Irish army THE Republic of Ireland's 'crocks' found their piece of gold buried in the turf under Wembley's twin towers as Aston Villa derailed Manchester United's treble charge. Veteran Paul McGrath, carrying the scars of eight knee operations, Andy Townsend and Steve Staunton, whose preparations for the final were disrupted by injury, emerged as central characters in Villa's thrilling 3-1 triumph. And Irish manager Jack Charlton afterwards saluted the performance of Villa's Republic trio Ray Houghton was surprisingly dropped in favour of little known Graham Fenton as Villa joined Liverpool and Nottingham Forest as the only four time winners of the League Cup. WEMBLEY SPECIAL Irish army THE Republic of Ireland's 'crocks' found their piece of gold buried in the turf under Wembley's twin towers as Aston Villa derailed Manchester United's treble charge. Veteran Paul McGrath, carrying the scars of eight knee operations, Andy Townsend and Steve Staunton, whose preparations for the final were disrupted by injury, emerged as central characters in Villa's thrilling 3-1 triumph. And Irish manager Jack Charlton afterwards saluted the performance of Villa's Republic trio Ray Houghton was surprisingly dropped in favour of little known Graham Fenton as Villa joined Liverpool and Nottingham Forest as the only four time winners of the League Cup. WEMBLEY SPECIAL