Aston Villa crashed out of the Europa League in the qualifying stage last night after beating Rapid Vienna 2-1 in the second leg at Villa Park last night but falling victim to a killer away goal.
Martin O’Neill’s night had started on a positive note when he unveiled new signing left-back Steven Warnock before half-time – the Blackburn Rovers defender joining Villa in a four-year deal worth around £6 million plus add ons.
Even at half-time Villa were the happier side with James Milner firing them ahead in the 32nd minute with a penalty after team-mate Ashley Young had been felled. The goal made amends for the fact Young had himself missed from the spot minutes earlier.
Villa clung on in the second half and looked to have put the tie beyond the reach of the Austrians in the 52nd minute through John Carew but were hit by a sucker punch from Nikica Jelavic.
A disappointed O’Neill said: “We should have won – well we did but we should have got through.”
The Northern Irishman accepted fans would be disappointed their dreams of European glory nights at Villa Park had once again been snuffed out but said he could not knock his players for their performance.
He admitted too that he had expected the Rapid players to test his young side.
“We expected them to exert some pressure on us at 2-0 but I still thought we had a number of chances to go from 2-0 to 3-0 which would have clinched it.”
O’Neill was suitably impressed by some individual performances including that of young Fabian Delph who performed well against the European visitors.
“Delph came in and played terrifically and I am delighted with the application of the side. I was just disappointed not to get through but the experience gained will stand them in good stead.”
O’Neill insisted while terms with Manchester City defender Richard Dunne ahd also been approved last night the deal was still “no where near remotely done.” It is understood there are still loose ends to be sorted out at Eastlands with the skipper who has been with them for nine years.