Aston Villa 2-1 Rapid Wien (2-2 agg.): Villans Exit Europa League Play-Off By Second-Half Jelavic Goal

martin oneil

Despite winning on the night, the Villans fail to reach the group stage of the inaugural edition of the Europa League due to the away goal ruling.

Aston Villa’s European excursion was cut short before they could even begin the tournament proper, as the away goal ruling played into Rapid Wien’s favour.

Martin O’Neill’s men were trailing by a one-goal deficit due to Bosnia-born forward Nikica Jelavic’s first-leg strike, scored within the opening minute, and the Ulsterman’s line-up reflected the club’s need to chase the game.

Emile Heskey and John Carew, two strikers who boast powerful frames, were fielded up top, indicating a shift in O’Neill’s tactic in the opening 90 minutes when he selected a 4-5-1 tactic away from home.

Chances littered both halves, and James Milner – fed in via a Carew cross – could have broken the deadlock in the eighth minute with some clever play, but the Norwegian failed to find the incoming Englishman at first, and Milner then squandered the effort.

Villa were granted two penalties inside the introductory 45 minutes, but converted only the second, after strong work by Ashley Young.

The fleet-footed winger skipped past Wien’s rear-guard, was duly brought down, but the Spanish officiator waved on to play advantage. It was to prove good refereeing as Young penetrated the box only to be brought to the floor again.

Unfortunately for the no.7, his attempted conversion was not as good as his build-up play, and Helge Payer guessed right (to his right) and denied Young what looked to be a poor kick.

Seven minutes later and again Young was dribbling into the box from the left diagonal. Again he was floored. Perhaps feeling low on confidence due to his earlier miss, up stepped Milner to show his compatriot how to strike an un-savable penalty – right into the corner. Villa had tied the game on aggregate.

Not long after the re-start and Carew, who almost scored with an audacious backheel moments after the break, doubled Villa’s lead after capitalising on a Milner pass and broke free from Ragnvald Soma. He looked as if he was going to square a pass, but instead snuck the ball into Payer’s near post.

Stefan Maierhofer was introduced with just under a third of the game remaining, and the collosal striker – standing as one of the tallest players in world football at 6’8” – had the ball in the net but the goal was chalked off for an apparent foul on Brad Guzan.

Jelavic too had opportunities to turn the tie in Rapid’s favour, and could only find the net towards the end when he took advantage of a Guzan parry to bring the score to 2-1 on the night and 2-2 overall.

The goal had been coming. Captain Steffen Hoffman and forward Christopher Drazan had been in exceptional form with the former’s drive and leadership and the latter’s ability to pick a pass, a cross, and cut in from the wide areas.

Nerves began to settle in at Villa Park, and even a late penalty shout – an apparent handball that the referee deemed ball to hand, not the other way around – was not enough to save Aston Villa, and Rapid Wien were the team to progress to the group stage of the inaugural edition of the Europa League competition.


~ by footballdirecta on August 28, 2009.

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