27.08.2010 01:24
Team

Birmingham nightmares come home to roost for the Villa

Another match etched into legendary Green White history. Despite the setbacks of goals and penalties conceded, the Hütteldorfers powered through to victory. Backed by Europe´s finest supporters Rapid put on a masterclass, condemning their lofty opponents to the same fate as last season. Rapid went into the game showing a 4-5-1 line up with Nuhiu leading the line on his own. Yasin Pehlivan and Markus Heikinnen were aiming to provide the rock in the heart of midfield from which the likes of Steffen Hofmann would launch the attacks on the Villa goal.Following a relatively quiet opening phase it was Villa who took the initiative as Hedl had to be on his toes to keep out firstly a James Collins header then a free kick from star man Ashley Young. It was the English side who made their head of steam count as they snatched the lead in the 22nd minute in front of their own fans. Gabby Agbonlahor got on the end of a low cross from the right to stab home from close range, giving Hedl in the Rapid goal absolutely no chance. If the Villa fans thought that would signal the opening of the floodgates then they were mistaken. Following the goal, Rapid got tight and compact, making it hard for Villa to make decent forward progress.It was proving to be tough however for the Viennese to get on the front foot and attack. A couple of Hofmann free kicks represented the best opportunities for the Hütteldorfers. Saurer came close from a corner before a 35th minute Pehlivan drive didn't carry enough pace to pose a threat to Guzan's goal. Half time arrived with green whites trailing 0-1.  Pacult's men came out looking very lively in the second half and just seven minutes of the restart they forced a dramatic equaliser. Veli Kavlak got past marker Habib Beye and fired a cracking ball across the box. Nuhiu got his head to the ball and directed his header past a helpless Guzan in the Villa goal. It was just what Rapid needed and sent the away army of supporters into a frenzy. The goal made Rapid visibly grow in confidence and a rocky Villa all of a sudden looked there for the taking. Following Payer's penalty spot heoics last year, now it was Hedl's turn. Referee Braamshaar award a contentious looking spot kick for a Sonnleitner foul on Emile Heskey. Villa captain Petrov took the kick but Hedl ready perfectly, Heskey followed in and bundled the rebound over the top. Was history repeating itself?The answer appeared to be no as in the 76th minute Heskey bundled home a scruffy goal with his chest to hand Villa the aggregate lead and the lead on the night. Far from being a hammer blow however, the Green Whites mustered all the famous Rapid fortitude and laid siege to the host's goal. The unbelievable then occoured, as Sonnleitner completed a villain to hero turn around, restoring parity from a corner. It was an agonising moment for Villa keeper Guzan, his contact with the ball wasn't enough to stop it squirming over the line in what seemed to take an eternity. The Hütteldorfers had turned the tie on it's head and the shell shocked Premier League side appeared to be out of answers. Incredibly Rapid made the game safe with ten minutes left. Newly introduced pair Trimmel and Gartler combined, the winger crossing for Gartler to finish from close range and extinguish Villa's flickering light for the second season in succession.It was a fantastic, and yet fully deserved, result for Rapid. To win on the night in Birmingham and to score three away goals in the process is a mammoth achievement. Attention now turns to the games in the group stages and one thing we can be certain about, no team will be fancying a trip to the Ernst Happel stadium to take on a buzzing Rapid and it's partisan support. Play-Off Runde to UEFA Europa League: Aston Villa - SK Rapid 2:3 (1:0)Birmingham, Villa Park, 30.000, Ref. Braamshaar (NED) Goals: 1:0 Agbonlahor (22.), 1:1 Nuhiu (52.), 2:1 Heskey (76.), 2:2 Sonnleitner (78.), 2:3 Gartler (81.)Aston Villa: Guzan - Cuellar, Collins, Davies, Beye - Reo-Coker (82./Delfouneso), Petrow, A. Young, Ireland - Heskey, Agbonlahor (40./Albrighton) SK Rapid: Hedl - Dober, Sonnleitner, Soma, Katzer - Heikkinen, Pehlivan (78./Gartler) - Kavlak, Hofmann (92./Patocka), Saurer (73./Trimmel) - Nuhiu Yellow Cards: Collins, Young Sonnleitner, Dober(gw)