Troubled Aston Villa suffered another damaging setback on Thursday when they crashed out of the UEFA Europa League with Scottish hopes also suffering a triple wipeout.
Villa, who saw Martin O'Neill quit as coach on the eve of the English Premier League kick-off and James Milner sold to Manchester City, were beaten 3-2 by Rapid Vienna in their play-off second leg. That gave the Austrians a 4-3 aggregate win to follow up their victory over the Midlanders in last season's tournament. Villa twice led on Thursday and also missed a penalty as they joined the Scottish trio of Celtic, Dundee United and Motherwell in being forced to write off their European hopes for another season.
Liverpool and Manchester City were left as Britain's only representatives in Friday's draw for the group stages of Europe's second tier tournament. Roy Hodgson's Liverpool overcame a disastrous start to score twice in the last seven minutes to defeat Trabzonspor 2-1 for a 3-1 aggregate victory while City saw off Timisoara of Romania 2-0 at home for a 3-0 triumph.
At Villa Park, Gabriel Agbonlahor gave Villa an early lead but Vienna hit back through Atdhe Nuhiu. Emile Heskey then restored Villa's lead with 13 minutes remaining after Stiliyan Petrov had missed a penalty. But Mario Sonnleitner headed Vienna level a minute later before substitute Rene Gartler put the visitors through in the 81st minute.
"We gave away three really silly goals. We got ourselves 2-1 up and we should have been able to hold the lead for more than a few minutes," said Villa caretaker coach Kevin MacDonald whose side were routed 6-0 by Newcastle in the Premier League on Monday. "It is very disappointing and we defended very poorly."
Playing without Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, Liverpool saw their 1-0 first leg advantage last just four minutes in Turkey when Colombian international Teofilo Gutierrez put the home side in front. He had been set up by Gustavo Colman who had pounced when Dirk Kuyt had given the ball away. But Hodgson's side regained the initiative in the 83rd minute when Trabzonspor's Giray Kacar diverted a Glen Johnson cross into his own net.
Kuyt then added the second on the night for Liverpool in the 88th minute after goalkeeper Onur Kivrak could only parry Joe Cole's shot into the Dutchman's path. "A lot of people have said a lot of things about my future, but for me it is at Liverpool. I like it here at the club and I want to stay here and win things," said Kuyt.
Shaun Wright-Phillips scored his first goal of the season to help Manchester City overcome Timisoara at Eastlands. The England winger produced a calm finish in the 43rd minute to open the scoring for Roberto Mancini's side as the brave resistance of the Romanian minnows was eventually broken. Dedryck Boyata made it 2-0 in the second half with a close range header to score the first goal of his professional career.
Celtic, who had already been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League qualifiers, surrendered a 2-0 first leg lead to go down 4-0 in Utrecht in Holland. Ricky van Wolfswinkel scored a hat-trick for the Dutch side with Barry Maguire adding a fourth as Celtic's dismal away record in Europe continued, with just one win in 28 games on the road.
Motherwell lost 1-0 at nine-man Odense, who won the first leg 2-1, at Fir Park last week. Peter Utaka claimed the only goal in the 28th minute. Dundee United drew 1-1 against AEK Athens but went out 2-1 on aggregate in a match where the venue had to be moved several times.
Elsewhere, Juventus made sure of their place in the next round when Alessandro Del Piero netted a 53rd-minute winner against Sturm Graz of Austria for a 3-1 aggregate victory.