Randy Lerner listens patiently as a child explains his vision of Aston Villa in the Europa League. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
This draw is like a win for Aston Villa, with Barry Bannan scoring a crucial away goal to open the match in the eleventh minute. Well done for Bannan to score in his first big-boys start, but the magic belongs to Marc Albrighton once again, who sent in a perfect ball for Bannan to put in the net.
Villa had control of the game for the first forty minutes or so, which is why Atdhe Nuhiu's goal in the 32nd minute came as a bit of a surprise. Steffen Hofmann, guiding Rapid Vienna's midfield, sent in a cross that caught Brad Guzan completely wrong footed. Between Guzan being on the wrong edge of the goal and the absolute non-presence of Habib Beye, the ball was able to just glance off Nuhiu and into the net.
Villa's presence in Vienna seemed to fade away completely after the start of the second half, with the team content to settle for a draw. Fortunately Brad 2.0 kept his head in the game and made a couple of solid saves to ensure the scoreline remained at 1-1. One of the most distressing moments of the night happened just minutes after Andreas Weimann took the pitch to replace Marc Albrighton. The Austrian, anxious to impress in his native country, instead suffered a nasty tackle and had to be carried off the sidelines on a stretcher, likely suffering ligament damage.
The Happy: Marc Albrighton still looking sharp, Barry Bannan scoring his first first-team goal, Stewart Downing mouthing obscenities to the camera...
The Uh-oh: What on earth was Kevin MacDonald doing playing Habib Beye at center back? I'd still like to give MacD the benefit of the doubt, but what this says to me is that neither Carlos Cuellar nor James Collins will be ready for Sunday's match, and he's trying to keep Ciaran Clark fresh for the weekend. Whatever it is, Beye should never, ever be playing there again, as he was constantly drawn out of position. Jonathan Hogg, meanwhile, was merely anonymous.
Again, I think this wasn't a reflection of Villa's lack of interest in advancing through the Europa League. Rather, I think it was almost the best that could have been done with the players available. Granted, I would've liked to see more of Delfouneso, but if players are still nursing knocks on Sunday, we might get that wish.