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Villa win on the night but suffer cruel away goal exit!


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So a whole season’s effort to gain European qualification brings only 180 minutes of European football and an exit before the group stages and what were potential big European nights against the likes of Celtic or Lazio. We are now left to concentrate on the league and domestic cup competitions!

This defeat will cost us in gate and television revenue, it will also not help us to attract players and it was a real body blow after so encouraging a performance at Anfield only 72 hours earlier. But, it could all have been so different. At 2-0 we looked like we were in the box seat but a goal was all they would need unless we could find the safety of a third which would have seen them needing two to go through. But, we don’t score three at home often and clean sheets are far too infrequent for this to have been a comfortable ride into the group stage and let’s face it although we had opportunities to score more goals so did they.

Rapid Vienna fans turned up in large numbers last night but Villa fans did not. Whether that was due to a belated Moscow reaction or to the fact that the game was on television or to a feeling that there would be bigger European nights than this during the season or that a £15 admission with the incentive of a free ticket for a potential home group stage game was still not enough to tempt fans to Villa Park is open to question. But, what is beyond doubt is that this game as a result lacked the atmosphere that great European nights at Villa Park can produce and the bulk of the noise came from Austrian voices.

These were not minnows ripe for slaughter and a mere stepping stone to the group stages. That goal on 16 seconds in Vienna and our failure to secure an away goal left us at risk (not for the first time) of going out of Europe on the away goals rule as we had against Trabzonspor, Helsingborgs and Atletico Madrid in the past. We should have been good enough to have won this. But, we spent a lot of time in our own half in the first half when our opponents were content to let us have possession there, after we scored our first and second goals when they knew they would need a goal to go through and then more alarmingly after they had scored their all important away goal when we needed to throw everything including the kitchen sink at them.

My player ratings from a game that left both us and the players knowing our European venture had ended far too early are:

Brad Guzan - 7 – Too often exposed by a defence that badly needs strengthening. A good stop from an overhead kick on 74 minutes but how the forward the ball fell to did not score only he could know. Stopped a shot with his leg a minute later but this time the deflection ended in the back of our net and the fatal blow had been struck. Managed to block a late effort within the 6 yard box before another scoring opportunity was spurned.

Habib Beye – 6 – Doing a decent enough job as we await Luke’s return.

Curtis Davies – 6 – Came off with that shoulder again and it looks like our new central defender may not be playing alongside him on Sunday.

Carlos Cuellar – 7 – Stretched well to send a threatening early cross out for a corner on 5 minutes and cleared a goal bound effort on 47 minutes with Brad beaten. Looked our best defender by some distance.

Nicky Shorey - 6 – Did well enough but will no doubt lose his starting place albeit after two of his better performances in a Villa shirt.

James Milner – 7 – Hit a threatening cross into the box on 7 minutes that Heskey was unable to get on the end of and then hit an unstoppable penalty into the corner of the net with great force on 37 minutes to break the deadlock and to earn him the job of taking our penalties in the future I would suggest. Should have got the vital third on 68 minutes when the keeper pushed a Young shot to him and the ball ended up in the side netting.

Fabien Delph – 7 – Had a lovely jinking run on 14 minutes that ended with him floored near the edge of the box but with no free kick. Hit a decent shot from the edge of the box on 76 minutes to force a save. Looked lively throughout and hit some good balls.

Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – Not as influential as he was at Anfield.

Ashley Young – 7 – MOTM - Hit a good cross on 12 minutes that Heskey did not get to. Delph found him with a good pass 17 minutes later, he was then brought down outside the box but got up, the referee played a very good advantage and he ran into the box to go down again this time for a penalty that Premier League officials seldom blow for when he is the player who goes down inside the box. But his penalty was weakly hit and too near to the keeper who produced a comfortable save. What a difference a goal from the first of our penalties could have made. But, only 7 minutes later he was again found well by Delph and brought down inside the box to earn the penalty that produced our opener. Cut inside well on 68 minutes and hit a good shot which the keeper pushed out into the path of Milner. Much closer to his best last night.

John Carew – 7 – Just wide with a cheeky back heel on 49 minutes and then hit a tremendous second for us on 52 minutes when he ran inside the box beat a defender and then slotted the ball between the keeper and his near post.

Emile Heskey – 6 – Worked hard but failed to pose a goal threat.


Gabby Agbonlahor – Replaced Emile on 81 minutes not on long enough to earn a rating or to threaten to make the difference he was brought on to make.

Shane Lowry – Replaced Curtis on 82 minutes not on long enough to earn a rating.

Marc Albrighton – Replaced Delph on 85 minutes another who was not on long enough to earn a rating.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Rarely comment on news stories but seriously, cruel away goal exit?

'Villa waste time and talent to end their Euro campaign, away goals just the tip of the iceberg' is more like it.

Maybe being 12000 miles away has increased my anger, cant believe I am coming back with us having wasted so much time.

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What a shambles... it was not a cruel exit at all.... MON fiddling with Team selection cost us this AGAIN....

Having come off the back of a 3-1 win at Anfield he proceeds to make 4 changes and change the formation again..... I am a huge MON fan... but this constant tinkering is leading to my support for him as a manager wain in the extreme....

What on earth must Sidwell and NRC do to cement a place in the team... they were awesome on Monday... yet found themselves on the bench.... ridiculous

Master Tactician...? My arse

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I can see what you are both saying but it felt cruel to me as it has on the other occasions 2 legs have ended all square and we have gone out in this way. But we knew the rules and consequences when we entered the competition and can have no excuses. I would have started with Gabby, Reo and Sidwell too atalbot01 but I'm sure if things had gone wrong with Monday night's team selected others would have blamed Martin for not starting with 2 up front at home. I back the manager and the players to get it right its a pity the opportunity will not come in this competition though.

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I disagree on Beye and Heskey. Beye, one on one was weak. Positionally he was awol and everything they did came down his side. He was nothing short of a liability on the night. I would have Gardner or NRC in there ahead of him. As for Heskey. Apart from one pass for Carew's backflick, I can't remember him contributing anything to the cause all night. Utterly utterly useless in a game where you think he'd have been able to assert some of his alleged class. Heskey may aswell not have been on the pitch.

And FWIW I thought Milner was MOTM by a country mile.

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Hi John. Very nice to see you back again. Watched the match last night from my armchair and i'm afraid we are still suffering from the same problems that we suffered last season. No creative talent in midfield to break down a team that packs their defence and an inability to keep the ball for more than a minute. We were playing hoof ball again and someone must tell our manager that it simply doesn't work against capable teams. Rapid played some great one touch football and looked threatening whenever they attacked us on the break. I simply wish we had the players to play this way and look comfortable on the ball. Rapid deserved their win as they were the better team over the two legs and it bloody hurts to say that. With the players we have, we should be playing 4-5-1. We are not good enough individually to play 4-4-2, that is until our manager forgets his footballing roots and decides to purchase players who are technically gifted on the ball. I really think we have gone backwards and our most recent signings have done nothing to change that!

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I thought Beye & Heskey were near a 5 too BOF and Milner was very near to MOTM. I have a feeling Milner may like Barry a couple of seasons ago become our MOTM week in & week out.

Ciaran I'm not sure we have gone backwards but I don't think we have moved forward as much as we would have liked. A few more performances like the Liverpool one (starting on Sunday) can put us on the right road as will another 3 quality signings!

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