MacDonald's youth brigade soak up Rapid's response

Rapid Vienna 1 Aston Villa 1

Aston Villa caretaker-manager Kevin MacDonald staked another claim to the job on a permanent basis as his young side soaked up the pressure to earn a creditable draw last night in an intimidating environment.

A year ago predecessor Martin O'Neill's side suffered a 1-0 defeat to Rapid Vienna in the first leg of their Europa League play-off, ultimately heading out on the away-goals rule. But Villa now have a firm chance to avenge that exit, with 20-year-old Barry Bannan scoring the precious away goal.

Although Rapid managed to grab an equaliser and dominated for most of the game, the result was very encouraging for MacDonald, who spoke highly of his young side. "I'm very proud indeed," he said. "It was an education for the boys, who played in patches, but I was pleased with all of them because it's not an easy place to come. There's a very strong camaraderie amongst that group of players."

Villa's goalkeeper Brad Guzan was targeted with what he described as "a few lighters, some coins, and some beverages" thrown by home supporters but was not hit. "The referee got involved and it was up to him to get that sorted," said MacDonald. "When you come to these places, I'm not saying you expect objects to be thrown, but you do expect the crowd to be very vociferous in support of their home team, and very anti the opposition. That's something these players will have to learn to deal with if they want to go to the very top."

MacDonald rested Ashley Young and captain Stiliyan Petrov and was also without the suspended Richard Dunne, along with the injured John Carew, Carlos Cuellar and Gabriel Agbonlahor. Marc Albrighton, 20, found himself in good company with the likes of Bannan, Eric Lichaj and Jonathan Hogg, the latter duo on debut.

Albrighton was the instigator of the goal, superbly turning inside left-back Markus Katzer and leaving him on the seat of his shorts before delivering a low cross into the six-yard box. Bannan, who had already gone close with a left-foot shot, was left with an open goal and tapped home from four yards for his first goal for the club.

Villa looked comfortable but under the leadership of Nigel Reo-Coker, making his first start since 2 January, they started to retreat. It allowed Rapid, reeling from the decision of star striker Nikica Jelavic to pull out of this game hours ahead of kick-off as a move to Rangers appears close, to grow in confidence. After Steffen Hofmann and Atdhe Nuhiu had both gone close just after the 20-minute mark, it was those two players who combined for Rapid's equaliser in the 32nd minute.

From the right wing Hofmann's piercing delivery appeared to go straight in, bouncing beyond the despairing dive of Guzan and inside his right-hand post. However, Nuhiu was credited with the goal, the Austrian getting the faintest of touches off the top of his head.

After Guzan then superbly hauled down a 20-yard Hofmann free-kick, the break that soon followed came as a welcome breather to a Villa side who were starting to wilt. It gave MacDonald time to regroup, and for the opening 15 minutes of the second half Villa shaved the play without testing Raimund Hedl.

In fairness to Villa, despite Rapid owning possession, Guzan found himself truly tested only once more, that just after the hour when he was at full stretch to push wide a Veli Kavlak drive.

Emile Heskey dragged one effort wide late on and Reo-Coker fired into the side-netting prior to Kavlak heading a Hofmann free-kick narrowly beyond the post. In the end it was a brave draw for Villa ahead of next Thursday's return, and a night Bannan will not forget in a hurry.

Rapid Vienna (4-4-2): Hedl; Sonnleitner, Heikkinen, Katzer, Soma; Kayhan, Hoffmann, Kavlak, Hinum (Drazan, 85); Salihi (Gartler, 72), Nuhiu. Substitutes not used Payer (gk), Patocka, Saurer, Dober, Pehlivan.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Guzan; Warnock, Lichaj, Davies, Beye; Reo-Coker, Albrighton (Weimann, 79; Osbourne, 86), Bannan (Delfouneso, 74), Hogg; Downing, Heskey. Substitutes not used Friedel (gk), Clark, Lowry, Baker.

Referee A Hamer (Luxembourg).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine