Thursday 26th August 2010
Aston Villa 2 – 3 Rapid Vienna (Rapid Vienna win 4-3 on aggregate)
The nightmare returned to Villa Park tonight as the Villains crashed out once more to Austrian outfit Rapid Vienna. It was exactly one year ago that Vienna came to the Midlands and managed a 2-1 defeat which saw them through on away goals. A case of lessons not being learned may have eventually lead to the home sides downfall once more and a feeling of de ja vu was not what the doctored ordered for Villa. Another penalty miss cost us dear and spurned opportunities at one end were only bettered, or worsened in this case, by woeful defending at the other.
Villa set up with a strong line up with recalls for fit again James Collins, Carlos Cuellar and perhaps not so fit again Gabby Agbonlahor. Brad Guzan kept his place in goal from the first leg though ever presents thus far, Stephen Warnock and Stewart Downing were rested alongside Richard Dunne.
Villa were unable to maintain a 2-1 lead in the game and could have been helped by a more convincing scoreline in the first leg to ease the same nerves that were present last time. MacDonald decided to field a weakened team in the first leg which was something that MON had done the season before and was punished for and, although the team that started should have managed to see off Vienna, some questions must be asked of the caretaker boss.
The game started well for Villa with a chance falling to Gabby Agbonlahor after just a minutes action. The pacey striker could only find the keeper’s gloves however with a left footed strike after a neat through ball from Ashley Young. Young was impressive throughout the first period and after a lovely ball from Petrov he delivered a teasing low cross that was this time converted by Agbonlahor. The signs were good for the home side who looked comfortable and new signing Stephen Ireland began to settle into the game and pull the strings for Villa.
A real blow occurred when Agbonlahor, who had been bright, pulled up with what appeared to be a calf strain and was replaced by Marc Albrighton in the 38th minute. The young winger played admirably once more upon his arrival into the game and engineered a chance for himself early in the second half which he dragged wide. Dismal defending from makeshift left back Habib Beye began what proved to be a defensive collapse. After dallying on the ball the full back failed to clear his lines before being dispossessed and the resulting cross was headed home well by Atdhe Nuhiu.
Ashley Young was then bought down in the box after a clear foul by Marcus Katzer but the referee overlooked the penalty claims. Moments later the home side were awarded a somewhat more dubious penalty for a supposed tug on Emile Heskey. Captain Stiliyan Petrov stepped up but his effort was tame and easily saved to the goalkeeper’s right before Heskey’s reputation preceded him missing the follow up when it was easier to score.
Villa did then make the breakthrough after a flicked effort by Petrov was saved and the ball was shipped back out to Ashley Young. The wideman delivered and the ball was half cleared to Habib Beye on the edge of the box who’s volley was turned in via the midriff of Heskey, his first goal since February. The travellers hit back immediately and went ahead on away goals after a confusing clearance by the shaky Curtis Davies went behind for a corner. The resulting corner lead to a flick off a Villa head finding Mario Sonnleitner who’s header just crept over the line after Guzan got a hand to it. The American stopper would have hoped for more as his feet slipped from beneath him and he failed to get a strong enough hand to the shot.
More poor defending by Habib Beye saw the visitors claim a breakaway third goal to kill off the match. The Senegalese international gave the ball away on the halfway line and was exposed out of position when substitute Christopher Trimmel picked out fellow bench warmer Rene Gartler to tap home. The striker was left free at the back post by Cuellar due to poor full back play, reinforcing the fact that the Spaniard is a centre half and should be employed in that position. Despite Villa’s best efforts, replacing Reo-Coker with Delfouneso and throwing James Collins up front, they could not conjure another goal and the sinking feeling returned to the Villa faithful.
Villa Player Ratings
Brad Guzan – 5 – unconvincing, should have done better with the 2nd Vienna goal
Carlos Cuellar – 5 – rusty, struggled for pace against winger and caught napping at the back post
James Collins – 6 – strong, good dominance and an attacking aerial threat
Curtis Davies – 5 – poor, obvious that he is not up to match fitness after months without playing
Habib Beye – 4 – dismal, at fault for 2 goals and nervous out of position
Nigel Reo-Coker – 6 – average, assured in possession but could have scored
Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – industrious, good ball retention but awful penalty
Stephen Ireland – 7 – promising, controlled and looked comfortable after slow start
Ashley Young – 6 – faded, superb start and assist but faded and became agitated, some poor crosses
Gabby Agbonlahor – 6 – injured, good until replaced with neat if simple finish
Emile Heskey – 7 – tireless, great work rate and link up from the big man who deserved his goal
Marc Albrighton – 7 – lively, ran at the defence and caused problems with decent delivery
Nathan Delfouneso – 5 – no time to impress, should have been used earlier