ASTON Villa gave Peace a chance – and boy, how their young players took it as Martin O’Neill’s under-strength squad triumphed in a competition of contrasts. There was the boring, tepid opening defeat against Malaga, compared to the penalty shoot-out final triumph over Juventus. There was World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero fluffing a spot-kick against young American Brad Guzan, compared to precocious whippersnappers Barry Bannan and Shane Lowry slotting effortlessly past another Italian legend, Gianluigi Buffon. There were the packed crowds as Real Madrid pulled in the punters in the other half of the draw, compared to Villa’s group games in front of one man and his dog in Malaga. There was the shambolic organisation of the pre-season tournament compared to the bumper two million coach Erik ten Hag has made it clear he doesn’t want to lose Donny van de Beek.Van de Beek has admitted there’s been contact with Real Madrid.”We will do everything in our power to keep him at Ajax,” Ten Hag admitted in a press conference on Friday.euro windfall the claret-and-blues pocketed for winning it. There was the honourable intentions of the competition to promote peace compared to the uncharacteristic aggression of its champions as Martin O’Neill and Emile Heskey were sent off for warring with opponents. There was the prospect of Villa being eliminated just days into the tournament when their fate was out of their hands compared to accepting the lifeline and never looking back. The more Villa’s squad creaked under a lack of numbers, the more they excelled. Captain Stiliyan Petrov flies home early with a dislocated shoulder. No problem, wing wonder Marc Albrighton comes to the fore and steals the show. O’Neill gets red-carded for angrily shoving the baul Pogba.United visit London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.Haller said, “Pogba is more than talented. He is a big player and he is not the only one, but for him there is even more pressure because everyone is talking his price, his return [to Mancheall at an Atlante opponent. No problem, the boss’s outburst inspires a brave comeback which launches Villa’s brilliant run towards the final and ultimate glory. Heskey is dismissed for an angry altercation with his marker against Porto. No problem, Villa’s makeshift defence are given added incentive to battle through the semi-final showdown with their backs to the wall. Senior players go down like flies. No problem, because their young replacements are buzzing. From seeing the manager listed as Martin O’Leary on the official team-sheet, to having personal belongings stolen from their hotel base in Marbella, Villa’s pre-season tour to Spain never lacked incident. Ultimately, Villa, with their ill discipline, might have provided less harmony than the pop band which took to the field to mime the competition’s irritatingly catchy theme tune at half-time during the final in Seville. But there’s no doubt that despite the winners’ indiscretions, Villa were worthy ambassadors for the Peace Cup in the way they triumphed in the face of adversity during an eventful and far from peaceful week in Andalucia.
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