Thursday 18 January 2018

Goodnight Vienna for Villa

(Rapid Vienna win 4-3 on aggregate)

Rene Gartler finished off a flurry of late goals to send Aston Villa crashing out of the Europa League in the second leg of their qualifier at Villa Park last night.

The scores had been level at 1-1, Atdhe Nuhiu's 52nd-minute header cancelling out Gabriel Agbonlahor's first-half strike.

Emile Heskey then put Villa ahead with a rare goal in the 77th minute, but this was cancelled out a minute later by Mario Sonnleitner, before Gartler had the final word in the 81st minute.

For Villa, Agbonlahor endured mixed fortunes when making his first appearance of the season. He broke the deadlock midway through the first half but limped off after 40 minutes with a leg injury.

Villa started brightly and after 22 minutes made their supremacy count. Young was the provider with a teasing, low ball across the box and Agbonlahor made no mistake from close range.

After 52 minutes, Villa were stunned when Nuhiu brought Rapid back level on aggregate at 2-2 with a header.

Referee Eric Braamhaar pointed to the spot when Heskey was fouled by Sonnleitner after 72 minutes -- but skipper Stiliyan Petrov's spot-kick was saved to his right by Raimund Hedl.

Villa regained the lead after 77 minutes when Heskey chested home a volley from Habib Beye, but then Rapid struck twice in three minutes.

First Brad Guzan could only parry a header from Sonnleitner, which still contained enough power to cross the line. Then in the 81st minute, Gartler converted a low cross from fellow sub Christopher Trimmel.

Villa could find no way back and now face a season without European football.

Irish Independent

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