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By Sam Lyon
2205: And on that news, I will bid you adieu. Don't forget to check out our
FC Timisoara-Man City match report,
and keep an eye on the website for further news as it comes through of that Mario Balotelli injury too, because it didn't sound all that good apparently. Jonathan Stevenson will greet you for Premier League proceedings on Saturday, while I'm back for Man City-Liverpool on Monday and then the midweek Champions League play-offs. See ya then.
Europa League Danny: "Some full-time fun for you. Sturm Graz 1-2 Juventus - Amauri with the 90th-minute winner for Juve. Borussia Dortmund 4-0 FK Qarabag. Second leg pointless? Napoli 1-0 Elfsborg. In the balance. Don't forget, all the scores are available
on the BBC Sport website
2156: A worrying add-on to that Man City victory - apparently Mario Balotelli went down injured in the closing stages and had to be stretchered off. Worrying.
LIVERPOOL 1-0 TRABZONSPOR: Mandeep Sanghera reports: "Liverpool will be ruing only earning a 1-0 lead having seen Joe Cole miss a penalty and considering the chances they missed."
jack on 606:
"I can see Balotelli being the world's best at some point in his career. The only thing that is holding him back is his attitude, but I think that will subside with age and experience."
2152: FULL-TIME FC TIMISOARA 0-1 MAN CITY
Raphael via text: "Balotelli - the new Drogba."
2148: So close! City break from a FC Timisoara attack and Emmanuel Adebayor and Jo work it to Mario Balotelli, who curls it to within a camel's eyelash of the top corner.
2147: We're into three minutes of stoppage time in the FC Timisoara-Man City match.
Europa League Danny: "Gordon Schildenfeld has only gone and levelled - it's Sturm Graz 1-1 Juventus with about seven minutes left. Goalflash, Gordon."
2145: Excellent play by Yaya Toure as he surges forward from midfield and smashes goalwards, only for keeper Catel Pantilimon to turn it away from the FC Timisoara goal.
RustyVernon1992 on Twitter:
"Manchester City are playing some good football tonight - Balotelli has done well and should have had two goals already."
2141: ...and who is there to head clear? Mario Balotelli. Match-winner.
2140: It's all gone quiet again between FC Timisoara and Manchester City, and I imagine Roberto Mancini will be happy enough with a 1-0 away win should it stay that way. The hosts have a corner, though...
2135: We're in stoppage time at Anfield, and both sides look to have settled for 1-0 here.
2132: "Box office" is how my colleague is describing Mario Balotelli already - he's been on the pitch 15 minutes and he's broken the deadlock, received two lectures from the referee, squared up to the opposition captain and now he's in the book with a yellow card. He has certainly made his mark on what was a poor game before his introduction.
Europa League Danny: "A lot of the 1930 BST kick-offs are finishing up and several teams can start planning for the group stages - such as Hajduk Split, who beat Unirea Urziceni 4-1, and Porto who won 3-0 away at Racing Genk. Remember that there are a host of matches tonight and web users can check out
every single score here.
Man City goal: Finally the breakthrough for Man City, and moments after Yaya Toure hit the post with a fierce effort. Mario Balotelli gets his City career off to a cracking start, getting on the end of some fine work by Emmanuel Adebayor in the build up and turning the ball into the top corner. Can City push on from here?
2128: GOALFLASH FC Timsoara 0-1 Man City (Balotelli)
2126: CSKA SOFIA 3-0 THE NEW SAINTS: So Spas Delev's run and superb shot in stoppage time rounds off a thoroughly miserable last 10 minutes for The New Saints in Bulgaria, leaving the Welsh outfit something akin to a mission impossible in the return leg next week. Having held their own for more than 80 minutes, that defeat will be hard to take.
2124: I spoke a minute too soon... Mario Balotelli flashes a shot into the side-netting. We have less than an hour to go and it remains FC Timisoara 0-0 Man City.
2123: Mario Balotelli has barely had a touch since his introduction and, if anything, FC Timisoara have got their foot on the ball a little more in the last couple of minutes. On comes Adam Johnson for David Silva.
2122: FULL-TIME CSKA SOFIA 3-0 THE NEW SAINTS
Ian, Bishop Auckland via text: "Trabzonspor sub Alanzinho sounds like a name some guy called Alan would give himself when he's having a kick about in the park on a Sunday afternoon. At least I tried harder; Zlatan Ianbrahamovic."
2118: GOALFLASH CSKA Sofia 3-0 The New Saints (Delev)
2117: Disallowed goal for Liverpool - Christian Poulsen slamming in from all of a yard after Sotiris Kyrgiaks's header is saved, but it was offside and possibly a foul as well.
CSKA Sofia goals: Heartbreak for The New Saints as they concede two in two minutes, the first as Giuseppe Aquaro heads in Galvhev's cross and then substitute Gregory Nelson adding a second a minute later. Double whammy.
2114: Here comes Mario Balotelli for Manchester City - and it's in place of Gareth Barry. Ambition from Roberto Mancini?
2113: Mario Balotelli is coming on for Manchester City.
2111: Close again for Liverpool, Fabio Aurelio's free-kick beaten away by Trabzonspor keeper Onur Kivrak and Joe Cole's cross on the rebound desperately kicked away with Fernando Torres looming.
2110: GOALFLASH CSKA Sofia 2-0 The New Saints (Nelson)
2109: GOALFLASH CSKA Sofia 1-0 The New Saints (Aquaro)
2108: They might not have tested the keeper yet this half, but Manchester City are certainly controlling proceedings against FC Timisoara, with David Silva in particular to the fore. Better from Roberto Mancini's side.
2106: Big Fernando Torres header, kept out well again by Trabzonspor keeper Onur Kivrak. He's kept the visitors in this match in this half and then some.
2105: I can't see it, I can't hear it, a technical issue has ensured it's not on our live scores tab on the right hand side, but I can tell you that with 15 minutes to go in Bulgaria it remains CSKA Sofia 0-0 The New Saints. Brilliant. I will let you know if that changes obviously.
2103: FC Timisoara and Manchester City are up and running in the second half.
2102: Talking of fine saves... take a bow Pepe Reina. Umut Bulut beats the offside trap to get in behind the Liverpool defence, but Reina gets out brilliantly to deflect his snap-shot into the ground and up and over the bar.
2101: It should be 2-0, yes, but Roy Hodgson will be happier with his side's performance so far in this second half. Milan Jovanovic is the latest to bring a fine save out of Trabzonspor keeper Onur Kivrak, swapping passes with Fernando Torres on the edge of the box before forcing the Turk to get down low to keep out his shot.
2056: We are halfway through the second half in Bulgaria, and The New Saints remain on level terms 0-0 against CSKA Sofia. That would be incredible if they could hold on there.
Europa League Danny: "Milan Baros has bagged a second-half brace for Galatasaray to earn them a 2-2 draw against Karpaty Lviv of Ukraine. That's a tie which is finely poised for next week's second leg. Which is more than can be said for Borussia Dortmund v FK Qarabag which is 4-0 at half-time. The Germans on course for a 16-0 aggregate win at the moment. Elsewhere, it's Sturm Graz 0-1 Juventus at half-time."
Missed penalty: Oh dear. Lucas is scythed down by Serkan Balci - a clear penalty - and Joe Cole immediately grabs the ball, so desperate is he to get his Liverpool career off to a flier. Unfortunately, his spot-kick is a touch tame and keeper Onur Kivrak saves. Anfield groans.
2055: MISSED PENALTY
2054: PENALTY TO LIVERPOOL
2052: Nice from Christian Poulsen, the debutant winning the ball back in midfield and then lashing a stinger goalwards from range - it flies over, though.
Bendtner's finishing touch on 606:
"Man City have been awful. They are looking so lead footed with absolutely no spark. Yaya Toure is slow, Silva has very little support up front. Abysmal."
2049: And now it really should be 2-0 Liverpool, Lucas rising unmarked to meet Maxi Rodriguez's corner 10 yards out and sending it flying wide. That wasn't just a free header, that was a get-the-next-one-half-price-too header. Poor.
2048: Blimey - almost an immediate impact from Fernando Torres, the Spaniard tonking a ripper of a shot goalwards and forcing keeper Onur Kivrak into a flying save.
2048: We're back under way in the second half at Anfield.
2047: Fernando Torres is coming on at Anfield in place of Ryan Babel - not sure if that's an injury or not. Good opportunity for the Spaniard to get his season's scoring started here anyway.
2046: HALF-TIME FC TIMISOARA v MAN CITY
2045: Half time fast approaching in the FC Timisoara-Man City game, and the hosts will be absolutely delighted to have by and large kept Roberto Mancini's side quiet in the first 45 minutes.
Kubed2klin on Twitter:
"Roy really knows how to get the best outta these guys...First, Ngog, now it's Babel. How soon can we see Amoo and Pacheco?"
2039: Half a chance for Carlos Tevez in Romania, but the Manchester City striker's touch is too heavy and the ball gets away from him through on goal.
2035: It's another penalty shout in Romania as the ball strikes Vincent Kompany's hand in the box - again nothing is given, rightly so by the sound of things - and Manchester City then have Joe Hart to thank for the fact they remain on level terms, the keeper pushing away Cosmin Contra's deflected shot. City certainly not having things all their own way.
Liverpool goal: Right on the stroke of half time, Joe Cole sets Ryan Babel through on goal and the Dutchman produces a sublime finish, side-footing across the keeper and into the corner, to give Liverpool the lead.
2031: GOALFLASH Liverpool 1-0 Trabzonspor (Babel)
2030: A bit better from Liverpool as Milan Jovanovic and Ryan Babel combine well in midfield to lay in Joe Cole behind the Trabzonspor defence - but it's offside.
2027: Trabzonspor's Burak Yilmaz pings in a free-kick from 25 yards - it's over.
2025: Similarly, over in Romania, we're still waiting for Manchester City to create their first chance of note. The local press have apparently been billing this as "The Game of the Decade" - but it would appear they factored without Roberto Mancini's typically Italian safety-first mindset. Not that FC Timisoara wouldn't bite your hand off right now for a 0-0 draw, mind, obviously.
2023: ...but it comes to nothing as the referee blows for a foul.
2022: It's all a bit tight over at Anfield, with Trabzonspor doing their job of keeping the hosts quiet. Liverpool have a corner here, though...
2019: Converse fortunes so far for our Scottish teams in action tonight - Celtic are leading at home to Utrecht while Dundee United are trailing against AEK Athens. Check out
Keir Murray's commentary
for all the latest chat. Meanwhile, a cracking first half for Welsh outfit The New Saints - they were given just a 4% chance of winning by
Infostrada Sports'Euro Club index chart before the game, but they are level at half-time, 0-0. Excellent work in Bulgaria.
2015: Penalty shout out in Romania as Pablo Zabaleta collides with Cosmin Contra inside the box. Six of one, half a dozen of the other if you ask me - but then we've seen them given. Not this time, though, referee Florian Mayer waving play-on.
2014: City starting to get on the ball now in Romania, but no chances in that match to speak of really.
The strike of the cescy verminator on 606:
"Why do a lot of people criticise Mancini for playing 3 DMF's? Tevez and Adebayor are hell for any defence. Silva is skillful and a handful, and Yaya, who I don't see defensive, can create something out of nothing. Watch him thread in some great passes."
2011: Free-kick to Liverpool 25 yards out... but Fabio Aurelio cannot get the necessary dip on it and it flies harmlessly over the bar.
2009: Trabzonspor skipper Umut Bulut finds himself in half a yard of space in the Liverpool box, but he miscontrols and the chance is gone. This Turkish outfit are working their absolute socks off. Not literally, you understand, but almost.
2007: FC Timisoara have started pretty brightly against Manchester City, forcing a couple of corners in the opening minutes. The match yet to settle into any particular rhythm, though.
2005: Trabzonspor doing plenty of work off the ball here, pressurising the Liverpool players at every turn. It means it's touch frantic at Anfield, with chances few and far between in the first 20 minutes.
Europa League Danny: "European stalwarts Galatasaray are in a bit of a pickle, I reckon. Ukraine's Karpaty Lviv have a 2-0 half-time lead in their first-leg play-off in Istanbul. Cupset?"
2002: Half an hour in in the CSKA Sofia-The New Saints match and it's still 0-0.
2001: We are under way in the FC Timisoara-Man City match.
2000: Fabio Aurelio sends a ball into Joe Cole in the final third, the playmaker bringing it down on his chest but just failing to clip it past the Trabzonspor defender to give himself a glimpse of goal. The former Chelsea man's movement is already causing the visitors problems here, though.
1958: Out come the FC Timisoara and Man City teams in Romania.
RAPID VIENNA 1-1 ASTON VILLA: Jonathan Stevenson reports: "I've a feeling that if you'd offered Kevin MacDonald a 1-1 draw before the game, the Aston Villa caretaker-boss would have snatched your hand off. The visitors started really well in Vienna and my word what a player Marc Albrighton looks, but they quickly faded and only Rapid's wasteful finishing cost them victory. Next week, with a first XI, you'd have to fancy Villa. Though I'm sure I said the same thing last year "
sheldon128 on 606:
"City are playing away at a team nobody has heard of, yet Mancini still plays with three defensive midfielders? He'll be sacked by Christmas..."
1954: Open start this at Anfield, with Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole already linking up well in the final third and Trabzonspor dangerous on the break. The rain has ensured this surface has more than a touch of zip too.
1950: Chance! Sotiris Kyrgiakos rises to meet Maxi Rodriguez's corner, but his header is turned away on the stretch by Trabzonspor keeper Onur Kivrak. The Greek defender feels his leg after falling awkwardly, but he should be fine to carry on. Decent opening for Liverpool.
1950: Decent start already from Trabzonspor, and as many of you are pointing out this lot are far from pushovers. Anfield bobbing rather than rocking at the moment.
1949: FC TIMISOARA v MAN CITY: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini makes three changes from the side which drew their Premier League opener 0-0 at Tottenham. Pablo Zabaleta, Joleon Lescott and Emmanuel Adebayor replace Micah Richards, the injured Aleksandar Kolarov and Shaun-Wright Phillips, while new signing Mario Balotelli is on the bench.
1948: Already it's clear that Ryan Babel will be playing through the middle for Liverpool - the role he coveted but was so rarely given under Rafael Benitez. It's your time to shine Babel son.
1940: I put that down as a cracking result for a young Villa side away from home, and that surely makes them favourites in next week's return leg at Villa Park. Agree? Meanwhile, here's more from Mandeep Sanghera ahead of Liverpool v Trabzonspor: "Trabzonspor go into the game in good form after beating Ankaragucu to get their league campaign off to a winning start on Sunday and they also beat Bursaspor in Turkey's equivalent of the Community Shield a week earlier. Colombian forward Teofilo Gutierrez will be their dangerman."
1937: FULL-TIME RAPID VIENNA 1-1 ASTON VILLA
90+1 mins: Two more minutes of stoppage time in Vienna, and Rapid are pressing for what would be a priceless winner.
1935: BREAKING MAN CITY TEAM NEWS: New signing Mario Balotelli starts on the bench.
1934: And we're under way in Bulgaria in the big CSKA Sofia-The New Saints match.
1933: LIVERPOOL v TRABZONSPOR: Mandeep Sanghera reports: "So Liverpool's summer signing Christian Poulsen makes his Reds debut and is one of seven changes from the side which drew with Arsenal on Sunday. He starts along with Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Fabio Aurelio, Martin Kelly, Lucas Leiva, Maxi Rodriguez and Ryan Babel. Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson and Dirk Kuyt miss out completely, while Fernando Torres is on the bench. Joe Cole plays as his red card against the Gunners rules him out of domestic action and not European matches."
88 mins: No sympathy for Andreas Weimann from the Rapid fans as he stretchered off behind the goal - the 'fans' spraying him with what looks like water as he shields his face. Horrid.
RexRivers on Twitter:
"Villa starting to fade now. I just hope that Liverpool do a very good job v Trabzonspor. As for City, I don't really care!"
85 mins: Nope, that's Andreas Weimann's night done. He looks distraught. Isaiah Osbourne replaces him.
84 mins: This doesn't look good for Andreas Weimann who, minutes after coming off the bench, goes down in apparent agony by the right touchline. Possibly a problem with his ankle - let's hope it's not as bad as he thinks it is.
82 mins: Deary me, Villa are living dangerously at times, especially at set pieces. This time Markus Katzer heads Steffen Hofmann's centre wide from a free kick.
Europa League Danny: "Anyone heard of this rising German star called Michael Ballack? Well done you. He's done well today, scoring a 90th-minute penalty for Bayer Leverkusen in a 3-0 home win over Ukraine's Tavriya Symferopol. Elsewhere, PSG have beaten Maccabi Tel-Aviv 2-0 at home and CSKA Moscow have trounced Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus 4-0 at home."
79 mins: Another chance for Rapid, who may live to regret these missed opportunities, as Mario Sonnleitner - unmarked - heads Steffen Hofmann's corner well over the bar. Meanwhile, Villa bring Andreas Weimann on for the tiring Marc Albrighton. All of Weimann's family are huge Rapid fans, apparently, which is nice.
76 mins: Massive chance for Rapid as Rene Gartler gets in behind the Villa defence and through on goal - his shot is tame, though, and Brad Guzan is able to parry it away.
74 mins: Here's a spot of attacking intent from Villa boss Kevin McDonald, striker Nathan Delfouneso replacing midfielder and goalscorer Barry Bannan for the last quarter of an hour.
73 mins: Much better from Aston Villa, Eric Lichaj sliding a fine pass into Nigel Reo Coker inside the box, only for the midfielder to slam into the side-netting from the angle.
71 mins: Emile Heskey gets on the ball finally, but sends a low shot wide of the upright from 25 yards.
70 mins: Markus Katzer goes into the referee's notebook for going through the back of Marc Albrighton. The Villa winger has barely seen the ball this half either.
1912: Now then Manchester City fans, and indeed anyone interested in the FC Timisoara-Man City match, give this page a refresh and on the right you'll find a link to BBC Manchester's live commentary of the game. Nice.
67 mins: Rapid Vienna starting to turn the screw on this young Villa side, and Kevin McDonald's boys might do well to push up the pitch with their defence coming under increasing pressure. I don't think Emile Heskey has touched the ball for about 10 minutes.
63 mins: A few objects being thrown from the crowd at Villa players now, with a water bottle narrowly missing Barry Bannan and a lighter just zipping past keeper Brad Guzan's head.
62 mins: Better defending from Curtis Davies that time as he gets close to goalscorer Atdhe Nuhiu from a corner, earning the foul that sees the chance go awry. Moments later, Brad Guzan keeps out Veli Kavlak's firm strike, tipping it around the post. Nervy times for Villa.
1900: BREAKING TRANSFER NEWS: Rapid striker Nikica Jelavic, who refused to play in tonight's match against Villa, will undergo a medical in Glasgow on Friday before joining Rangers.
56 mins: Nice play again from Villa in the attacking third and even though Rapid clear a ball that causes a touch of havoc in their box, the visitors look more than capable of a second here.
b_bandhauer on Twitter:
"RE: 1705 - It's Europa League Night, yes, but it's still Ill-Advised-Too-Many-Drinks-On-A-School-Night, too, right? Or did i miss a memo?"
53 mins: Ouch. Hamdi Salihi will have a headache tomorrow morning and no mistake, the Rapid striker colliding head-on with Brad Guzan's knee as the Villa keeper comes out to collect a long ball forward. It looks horrid on the replay - but the Albanian striker shrugs it off and will continue without treatment. Double hard.
51 mins: Well that's a tad harsh from referee Alain Hamer surely - he's just booked Villa keeper Brad Guzan for time-wasting barely five minutes into the second half. Really?!
1853: And with proceedings yet to settle down in the second half between Rapid and Villa, may I remind you to check out
Keir Murray's commentary
if you're interested in how our Scottish clubs are doing in the Europa League this evening. Though Motherwell fans may want to look away... it's half time in their match against Odense and they're 1-0 down.
1850: BREAKING LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS: Christian Poulsen will make his Liverpool debut, with Fernando Torres on the bench. There is no place for Steven Gerrard.
1848: CSKA SOFIA v THE NEW SAINTS: CSKA Sofia: Karadzhov, Vidanov, Marquinhos, Aquaro, Trifonov, Galchev, Yanchev, Tonev, Iliev, Saidhodzha, Delev. Subs: Chavdarov, Kostadinov, Vasilev, Tiboni, Yanev, Sheridan, Nelson. The New Saints FC: Harrison, Danny Holmes, Baker, Evans, Tommy Holmes, Ruscoe, Hogan, Seargeant, Matty Williams, Craig Jones, Sharp. Subs: Simon Williams, Craig Williams, Rawlinson, McKenna, Wood, Darlington, Berkeley. Referee: Hannes Kaasik (Estonia)
1847: FC TIMISOARA v MAN CITY: He's a busy boy is our Jonathan Stevenson, as he reports: "It's a fair bet not many Man City fans had heard of FC Timisoara before the draw, which was carte blanche for people like me
to try and give them a heads up.
James Milner's arrival may have taken Sheikh Mansour's spending past
the £1bn barrier
but it's 11 v 11 at the Dan Paltinisanu Stadium and Tottenham's kamikaze first half against Young Boys should be all Roberto Mancini needed to remind his players of their task. Key word: complacency."
1843: CSKA SOFIA v THE NEW SAINTS: The New Saints, relegated to this stage of the Europa League after being knocked out of the Champions League at the third-round qualifying stage at Anderlecht, will be hoping to make the most of a CSKA Sofia in turmoil. The Bulgarian side are without a full-time manager after Pav el Dochev quit on Monday so assistant Sasho Borisov takes charge. Not that The New Saints are full to the brim with confidence: "There are no easy draws whatsoever. We're the lowest ranked team left in the competition - that says it all," said boss Mike Davies. Honesty really is always the best policy.
1840: LIVERPOOL v TRABZONSPOR: Mandeep Sanghera reports: "Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson was on the losing side as previous club Fulham lost to Atletico Madrid in last season's Europa League final. Hodgson said the Cottagers' run to the final cost them "several places in the league" and he is not prepared to let that happen to the Reds. He insists the Premier League is the priority. Trabzonspor coach Senol Gunes will be out for revenge. He was the keeper for the Turkish club when they last met Liverpool in the 1976/1977 European Cup and lost 3-1 in the second round as the Reds went on to win that year's tournament."
ricky66 on 606:
"RE: Greg via text - they don't try to get into Europe, they try to get into the Champions League... the Europa is a bit of a distraction..."
1837: RAPID VIENNA 1-1 ASTON VILLA: So, for those of you who missed the weekend commentary, we're bringing in something new this season - the one-line half-time report. Some of you loved it, some not so much, but hey - it's something a little bit quirky anyway no? So here's your match reporter Jonathan Stevenson's one-line HT report: "A half of two halves." Trust me, you're going to grow to love these...
Greg in Split via text: "It amazes me how clubs spend all season fighting to get in Europe then play a weakened team when they get there. I don't get it!"
kopman4 on 606:
"Rapid Vienna seem to have some momentum (possession, shots, etc). They need to exploit that, they cannot take 1-1 to Villa Park!!"
1832: HALF-TIME RAPID VIENNA 1-1 ASTON VILLA
43 mins: Rapid finishing the half strongly, here, Brad Guzan worked again as the Villa keeper dives to keep out Steffen Hofmann's free-kick moments before Eric Lichaj does well to prevent Hamdi Salihi a clean header at goal when well placed eight yards out.
42 mins: Cracking cross from Tanju Kayhan from the right and Atdhe Nuhiu is inches away from forcing the ball goalwards ahead of Villa defender Curtis Davies.
VillaFour on 606:
"The defence has the most experienced players, and yet it's looked the shakiest. Ciaran Clark on at half time please."
37 mins: Looking at the replay of that, I don't suppose Villa defender Curtis Davies will be too happy at having been beaten in the air so easily by Atdhe Nuhiu there. Youngster Eric Lichag behind him was a touch out of position, too. The visitors' defensive frailty just undermining what has been an excellent attacking display so far.
Rapid goal: It's a soft one, but Rapid won't care. Steffen Hofmann floats a ball into the Villa box and Atdhe Nuhiu gets the slightest of touches on it to flick into the corner. Game on.
32 mins: GOALFLASH Rapid Vienna 1-1 Aston Villa (Nuhiu)
30 mins: Set pieces might be Villa's Achilles heel this evening, with Markus Katzer this time heading off target when a mere flick would have caused Brad Guzan - caught in no-mans-land coming for the cross - problems.
Europa League Danny: "Thursday sees no fewer than 35 play-off first leg ties and there are some big names involved. Indeed, PSV Eindhoven have already suffered a surprise 1-0 reverse away to Russia's FC Sibir Novosibirsk in a 1300 BST kick-off after a last-minute goal from Aleksandr Degtyarov. More famous names in action later - Feyenoord, Galatasaray, Porto, Borussia Dortmund, Villarreal and Juventus will all be hoping to take a big stride towards the group stages..."
25 mins: He was so impressive against West Ham at the weekend and Marc Albrighton has picked up exactly where he left off - this time almost forcing Stewart Downing's back-post cross goalwards despite the attentions of a Rapid defender. Villa still bossing things, even if Rapid have looked occasionally dangerous in attack.
20 mins: And then, out of nowhere, Rapid create two fine chances - first Thomas Hinum's 20-yarder is deflected wide and then Atdhe Nuhiu fails to direct a header on target unmarked eight yards out. Let off.
18 mins: Bit of a waste as Stewart Downing drifts a free-kick over everyone and behind for a goal kick - but boss Kevin McDonald must be loving the start to this match with so many so-called 'first-teamers' rested.
16 mins: This really is lively from Villa, and as a result Rapid Vienna are being forced into sloppy mistakes.
Villa goal: Villa break and that's a right royal fillip for their hopes tonight. Marc Albrighton is the creator, his slide-rule pass from the right tapped in unmarked by Barry Bannan in the centre of goal six yards out. Easy.
12 mins: GOALFLASH Rapid Vienna 0-1 Aston Villa (Bannan)
10 mins: Two big let-offs for Villa as first Rapid's appeals for a penalty are turned down when one of their players goes down heavily in the box, and then when Brad Guzan pulls off a quite brilliant fingertip stop to keep out Atdhe Nuhiu's goalbound shot moments later.
BBC Sport's Nigel Adderley in Vienna on Twitter:
"Around a hundred Villa fans are sunning themselves in the far corner, with the rest of ground is a sea of green and white. Rapid fans creating fantastic atmosphere with every fan behind the goal holding up the same scarf. Looks great - don't usually associate Austrian football with such great support."
4 mins: First effort of the match and it falls to Villa, Emile Heskey knocking Marc Albrighton's centre down and Barry Bannan slapping wide left-footed from the edge of the area. Encouraging.
2 mins: Their line-up may have an average of around 12 (wild exaggeration alert) but Villa have opened up steadily in Austria, with Marc Albrighton - so impressive against West Ham at the weekend - to the fore early on. Good controlled possession from the travelling midlanders.
1746: We are under way in the Rapid-Villa match.
1744: We're moments away from kick-off in Austria, which gives me just enough time to let you know that while Rapid got started this season with back-to-back defeats, they responded with consecutive league wins as well as a 3-0 win over Bulgarian Cup holders PFC Beroe Stara Sagora last time out in the Europa League. Tonight could well be tricky for Villa.
RKW - Bred Pole on 606:
"A mate of mine said to me today that English teams don't take the Europa League seriously. I can't see where he got that from. Oh, hang on a minute..."
EmJayLambert on Twitter:
"Is it just me, or does this Villa "B" team have two members of the England World Cup squad in it?"
1739: RAPID VIENNA v ASTON VILLA: Jonathan Stevenson reports: "I'm not sure revenge is the right word, but it's a certainty Aston Villa will not want to bow out at this stage of the Europa League for a second successive year to unfancied Austrians Rapid Vienna. Caretaker-boss Kevin McDonald might have a squad weakened by injuries, suspension and the decision to rest key players, but Villa - also shorn of Martin O'Neill and James Milner from 12 months ago - will be confident they have enough quality to progress."
gunner-zp on 606:
"Looking at the Villa team, they will be lucky to come away with a draw."
1735: Our friends at
have compiled a rather delightful set of facts to kick us off tonight. According to their
Euro Club index,
Aston Villa are ranked 25 among Europe's top clubs, with Liverpool 10th and Manchester City 26th. With Rapid Vienna and Trabzonspor at 94 and 96 respectively, they are around the level of Newcastle United, while City's opponents FC Timisoara are ranked 125th - around the level of Bolton Wanderers. That puts their predicted win percentages thus... Rapid Vienna 25%, Aston Villa 52% FC Timisoara 22%, Manchester City 57% Liverpool 78%, Trabzonspor 8% No, I have no idea how that works either but I like it dagnammit.
collie21 on 606:
"Obviously Europe is not a priority for Villa then this season."
1729: RAPID VIENNA v ASTON VILLA: Jonathan Stevenson reports: "So, as expected Aston Villa make a raft of changes after their 3-0 win over West Ham at the weekend - eight in all. Incoming are keeper Brad Guzan, defenders Curtis Davies, Habib Beye and Eric Lichaj, midfielders Nigel Reo-Coker, Jonathan Hogg and Barry Bannan and striker Emile Heskey, with only Stephen Warnock, Stewart Downing and Marc Albrighton surviving the cull. Rapid Vienna striker Nikica Jelavic has refused to play, but key defender Ragnvald Soma has shaken off a thigh injury to feature."
Silvio_Di_Fede on Twitter:
"I'm left stunned by the Aston Villa line-up: is this the way to avoid another disappointment against Rapid Vienna?!"
MsHighbury on 606:
"I'm looking forward to seeing the team Man City are going to put out later, I bet they wished they could name 11 subs..."
1724: Now then, Europa League football - for you lot and me - is just about as exciting as Thursdays get - obviously - but there is always an exception that proves the rule, and tonight that man is Rapid striker Nikica Jelavic who has refused to turn out for the Austrian outfit. As a result he won't face Villa and has been transfer-listed. That is good news for two British clubs - one being Rangers, who now look
odds-on to sign him,
the other being Aston Villa given Jelavic was
the man who knocked them out of this competition at the same stage last year.
Leigh on 606:
"Ideal situation for Liverpool is to qualify for the groups so we can blood some of our youngsters, keep the seniors fresh for the league. Hodgson won't sacrifice league form for European glory."
1719: Oh, and let me give you all a heads up as far as our Scottish contingent goes tonight - we'll be bringing you a separate commentary for all things Celtic v FC Utrecht, Dundee United v AEK Athens and Odense v Motherwell from around 1730 BST - so I'll let you know where you can find that as and when it goes live.
Jason in Stoke via text: "Sat in the office looking forward to Villa and got you for company as I can't watch it here. What will probably be a makeshift side has the chance to shine - may they put up or shut up!"
KB2X on Twitter:
"I'm predicting 6-0 Liverpool tonight - got a good feeling about the Hodgson Era!!"
1714: So, if you could all be so kind as to get involved on this here commentary, I'd be ever so grateful. The ball is already rolling on
you can text me on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide) with FOOTBALL before your message, or you can tweet me on that there
The floor is all yours folks.
1705: Thursdays. No longer will they be all about the ill-advised drink-on-a-school-night that makes Fridays at work such a drag, oh no - Thursday night is Europa League football night again. You ready?
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