Villa head into next Thursday’s home return leg of their play-off with Rapid Vienna on the back of a 1-1 draw at the Gerhard Hanappi Stadium.
Barry Bannan, a 20-year-old Scottish midfielder, was Villa’s hero with his first goal for the club, tapping home from four yards a low cross from emerging right winger Marc Albrighton.
MacDonald also handed debuts to 21-year-olds Jonathan Hogg and Eric Lichaj, and neither disappointed in an intimidating atmosphere that was generated by a 17,000-strong full house.
“I’m very proud indeed,” said MacDonald when asked for his feelings on his young players. “It was an education for the boys, who played in patches, but I was pleased with all of them because it’s not an easy place to come.
“But it was gratifying to score a goal away from home, with the two of them (Bannan and Albrighton) doing very well.
“It was a good finish, a good goal, and I’m sure you could see the elation in their faces when we did score.
“There’s a very strong camaraderie amongst that group of players.”
Despite a European night to savour, MacDonald refused to concede whether such an occasion had whetted his appetite further.
“I still don’t know about that,” said the 49-year-old Scot. It was good, but I don’t know how good it was. Sat down there (in the dugout) you don’t see everything.
“I’ll have a look at the video because it’s not just the play, it’s reacting to the place you’re in that gives you an education.”
Last night’s Europa League results: Sibir Novosibirsk 1 PSV Eindhoven 0, BATE Borisov 3 Maritimo 0, Bayer Leverkusen 3 Tavriya Symferopol 0, CSKA Moscow 4 Anorthosis 0, PSG 2 Maccabi Tel Aviv 0, Rapid Vienna 1 Aston Villa 1, Slovan Bratislava 0 Stuttgart 1, AIK Stockholm 0 Levski Sofia 0, Debrecen 2 Litex Lovech 0, Dnipro D’petrovsk 0 Lech Poznan 1, FC Vaslui 0 Lille 0, Omonia Nicosia 0 Metalist Kharkiv 1, OB Odense 2 Motherwell 1, Feyenoord Rotterdam 1 AA Gent 0, Steaua Bucuresti 1 Grasshoppers 0, Galatasaray 2 Karpaty Lviv 2, Club Brugge 2 Din. Minsk 1, CSKA Sofia 3 TNS 0, Hajduk Split 4 Unirea Urziceni 1, Lausanne Sports 1 Lokomotiv Moscow 1, Palermo 3 NK Maribor 0, PAOK Saloniki 1 Fenerbahce 0, Racing Genk 0 FC Porto 3, Celtic 2 FC Utrecht 0, Liverpool 1 Trabzonspor 0, AZ Alkmaar 2 Aktobe 0, Dundee United 0 AEK Athens 1, FC Timisoara 0 Manchester City 1, Getafe 1 APOEL Nicosia 0, Gyor 0 Dinamo Zagreb 2, Napoli 1 Elfsborg 0, Borussia Dortmund 4 FK Karabakh 0, Sturm Graz 1 Juventus 2, Sporting Lisbon 0 Brondby 2, Villarreal 5 Dnepr Mogilev 0.
Hedl, Sonnleitner, Heikkinen, Katzer, Soma, Kayhan, Hoffmann, Kavlak, Hinum Salihi, Nuhiu
Guzan, Warnock, Davies, Beye, Lichaj, Downing Albrighton (Weimann 79, Osbourne 86); Reo-Coker, Bannan (Delfouneso 74), Hogg, Heskey.
Ref: Alain Hamer (Luxembourg).