Sonnleitner and Gartler on target as rapid-fire Vienna finish Villa again

Aston Villa 2 Rapid Vienna 3 (Rapid Vienna win 4-3 on aggregate)

The plot which Aston Villa lost last weekend looked, for long periods of their Europa League qualifying tie second leg last night against an unremarkable Rapid Vienna outfit, as if it might merely have been misplaced. A team again revamped by the caretaker manager, Kevin MacDonald, dominated the first half so completely that Gabriel Agbonlahgor's goal was scant reward.

Yet it was a different story after half-time, Atdhe Nuhiu equalising from Rapid's first effort on target and Stiliyan Petrov failing from the spot before a rare goal by Emile Heskey fired Villa's hopes of featuring in today's draw. Back roared Rapid, counter-attacking to expose the defensive frailties Newcastle had exploited. Late goals by Mario Sonnleitner and Rene Gartler enabled them to repeat their conquest of Martin O'Neill's Villa at the same stage a year ago. As one prescient Austrian banner proclaimed: "Your nightmare returns."

The estimable MacDonald, in whom Villa have trusted as the safe option, appeared wounded professionally and personally. He spoke of the "ecstasy" of taking the lead and the "despondency" of losing it. Was it in some ways more disappointing than the 6-0 trouncing on Tyneside? "It feels worse at the moment," he answered, "because Villa are out of Europe."

Pressed on the uncertainty over an appointment – which Petrov suggested was affecting the players in a post-match interview – the Scot said he expected nothing to change until after Sunday's visit by Everton.

MacDonald said: "It may have an influence but it is the media who have put me up as first choice. I have never been told I was first choice and expect nothing to change until after the game on Sunday. It is not about me but how the players and the football club react on Sunday." However, until Nuhiu repeated his feat of cancelling out Villa's goal in Vienna, it seemed only a question of how many MacDonald's experienced selection would score.

Agbonlahor, making his first appearance of the season after injury, highlighted the extent to which Villa have missed his pace and power before a tight calf forced him off before half-time.

By the midway stage in the first half Rapid appeared bemused by Ashley Young's free role and the tempo of Villa's game. James Collins headed wide from a corner, Stephen Ireland forced a diving parry from Hedl with a free-kick and Young curled a shot close to the far post. For the 22nd-minute opener, Young took Petrov's pass on the right before crossing to the near post, where Agbonlahor slid in ahead of Ragnvald Soma to score.

Ireland's ability to skip past a tackle, allied to his willingness to try the ambitious pass, endeared him to the fans on his home debut. The refugee from Manchester City might have doubled Villa's lead before half-time only for Andreas Dober to make a last-ditch sliding challenge.

But the second half was only seven minutes old when poor defending by Habib Beye allowed Veli Kavlak to gain possession. Beye compounded his error by turning his back as Kavlak feigned to cross, allowing him space for an inviting near-post delivery. Nuhiu's fine glancing header left Brad Guzan helpless.

Villa's frustration intensified when the Dutch referee refused them a penalty after Markus Katzer wrestled Young to the turf. Three minutes later, Sonnleitner's challenge on Heskey looked more legitimate but this time the official was persuaded. Hedl saved Petrov's weak penalty, Heskey somehow finding the roof of the net from the rebound.

The former England striker's next touch produced groans around the ground, but with 14 minutes remaining he put Villa ahead by chesting the ball past Hedel, his first goal for six months, when Beye volleyed the ball back into Rapid's area after a corner was cleared.

Joy quickly turned to despair when Sonnleitner turned in a corner with the aid of Guzan's fumble. Before Villa could recover their composure, one substitute, Christopher Trimmel, crossed for another, Gartler, to sidefoot home and it was goodnight Villa.

Aston Villa (4-3-1-2) Guzan; Cuellar, Collins, Davies, Beye; Reo-Coker (Delfouneso, 82), Petrov, Ireland; A Young; Heskey, Agbonlahor (Albrighton, 40). Substitutes not used Friedel (gk), Delfouneso, Lichaj, Bannan, Clark, Hogg.

Rapid Vienna (4-2-3-1) Hedl; Dober, Sonnleitner, Soma, Katzer; Heikkinen, Pehlivan (Gartler, 78); Kavlak, Hofmann (Patocka, 90), Saurer (Trimmel, 73); Nuhiu. Substitutes not used Payer (gk), Kulovits, Salihi, Hinum.

Referee E Braamhaar (Netherlands).

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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor