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I'LL HELP VILLA AXE ATLETICO; O'Neill seeks revenge.

Leicester boss Martin O'Neill will hatch a UEFA Cup plot with Aston Villa to gain personal revenge on Atletico Madrid.

Angry O'Neill claims his side were cheated out of victory against the Spanish giants, now drawn as Villa's quarter-final opponents.

Villa must face Juninho and the rest of Atletico's pounds 50million squad in Madrid on March 3, with the return leg a fortnight later.

Atletico coach Raddy Antic has already labelled Premiership strugglers Villa "easy meat".

Antic said: "Although English teams are competitive, they lack flair - we will be superior to Villa."

But O'Neill, who still fumes over controversial refereeing decisions which destroyed Leicester's hopes in the first round, declared: "Villa are good enough to get through.

"And after what happened to us, you can bet I'm ready to offer Villa manager Brian Little every possible assistance.

"Player dossiers, video footage, local knowledge from visiting Madrid, we will place the lot at Villa's disposal."

O'Neill insisted: "Leicester scared the pants off Atletico.

"We know it, they know it.

"Atletico needed a dodgy penalty gained by crowd pressure to beat us 2-1 in Madrid.

"Then we were refused three obvious spot-kicks AND had Garry Parker sent off in ridiculous fashion after they had been reduced to 10 men at Filbert Street.

"We got the short straw - the fact that UEFA banned French official Remi Harrel for what he did to us failed to compensate.

"Perhaps the best advice I can give Brian is to pay more attention checking out the referee than anything else!"

Little commented: "I'm really not bothered what Atletico might or might not be saying about us. If Villa are rated underdogs when we go to the Spanish capital, that suits me fine.

"We will do our own talking on the pitch.

"Perhaps it's true Raddy Antic had a dream of removing Villa from Atletico's path. My job is to ruin that dream.

"I will be happy to speak with Martin. Any assistance towards us reaching the semi-finals would be appreciated."

The war of words continued with Villa chairman Doug Ellis, in Geneva where the draw was made, taking a swipe at Atletico president Jesus Gil.

Ellis declared: "I hear that Senor Gil is also being rather outspoken, suggesting that we are easy opponents.

"I should warn him that he is making a mistake. He could be in for a big, big shock."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Moore, David
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 18, 1997
Words:395
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