Aston Villa v lille april 2024

Lille v Aston Villa Match Review

Emiliano Martinez came away as the hero after saving two penalty kicks as Villa secured their place in the semi-finals of the 2023/24 UEFA Europa Conference League.

The knockout stages in European Competitions never fail to bring drama, with the atmosphere of both legs being a cauldron of extreme emotions from both sets of supporters. This was most certainly the case at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in the second leg of the 2023/24 UEFA Europa Conference League tie between French Ligue 1 Club Lille and Unai Emery’s Aston Villa.

Villa looked to be heading out at 2 – 0 down, only for right full back Matty Cash to prove the hero for the visitors after scoring in the dying embers of the second half (87’). After a period of extra time that produced no goals for either side, Aston Villa went on to win 3 – 4 on penalties that included two magnificent saves from 2022 World Cup Winner Emiliano Martinez.

Aston Villa are now the only Premier League club left remaining in any competition after Liverpool, West Ham, Arsenal, Newcastle United, and Manchester City were all knocked out of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League at various stages.

It also now looks certain that Villa will have to finish fourth in order to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League, but they will of course be aware of the omnipresent pressure from North London counterparts in the form of Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham Hotspur.

Aston Villa had got to the Quarter Finals stage after a 4 – 0 win on aggregate over two legs against European heavyweights Ajax, and in the first leg against Lille, it was a tense and thrilling 2 – 1 win for the Villans at Villa Park. Top scorer Ollie Watkins opened the scoring in the first leg with barely more than 10 minutes gone (13’), before Scotland international midfielder John McGinn doubled the Premier League side’s advantage early on in the second half (56’). Bafode Diakite got a goal back for Lille late on in the second half (84’).

The second leg proved to be a tense occasion. It was hosts Lille who had the opening opportunity of the second leg through left back Gabriel Gudmundsson, but his shot from within the box missed the target (6’).

Canada international forward Jonathan David then missed the target himself a few moments later after receiving a great pass from Yusuf Yazici (10’).

Then, just 5 minutes after that all of a Villa persuasion were left disappointed and concerned when Yazici scored a fantastic goal, finding the bottom left corner of Emiliano Martinez’s net to give the French side the lead on the night whilst also restoring parity on aggregate, 2 – 2 (15’).

Now more than ten minutes after the opening goal of the contest, Benjamin Andre forced a fantastic save from Martinez who kept Villa level in the tie (25’).

Unfortunately, Aston Villa were unable to create many clear opportunities to score in the opening forty five minutes plus stoppage time, and they had work to do in the second half to progress to the Semi-Final.

After Villa had picked it up a bit, they were pegged back further with just over twenty minutes of the game remaining when Andre doubled Lille’s advantage to 2 – 0 on the night thanks to a header that found the top right corner following a superb delivery into the box from the corner kick from Hakon Haraldsson (67’). Unai Emery’s Villans were now heading out of the 2023/24 UEFA Europa Conference League with them now losing 3 – 2 on aggregate.

A lifeline for Villa then came in the dying embers of the second half when returning right back Matty Cash fired the ball home, finding the top right corner from just outside of the penalty area after an initial effort on goal from Jhon Duran had been dropped by Lille Goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier (87’).

This led to extra time with the tie now level at 3 – 3 on aggregate. And, after the likes of Douglas Luiz (100’) and former Manchester United midfielder Angel Gomes (104’) had efforts saved and blocked for Aston Villa and hosts Lille respectively, the tie then headed into a penalty shootout.

Youri Tielemans converted Villa’s first penalty before former Spurs midfielder Nabil Bentaleb saw his own spot kick get saved by Emiliano Martinez. Ollie Watkins, the Villans’ leading marksman this term then converted before Jonathan David scored Lille’s first spot kick of the night.

Matty Cash then made it 3 – 1 on penalties before Angel Gomes made it 3 – 2 after scoring from the spot himself. Matters were made that bit more tense when second half substitute Leon Bailey missed his spot kick before Lille’s Remy Cabella scored his penalty to level it at 3 – 3.

Douglas Luiz scored his spot kick before Emiliano Martinez then made himself the hero by saving Andre’s effort from the spot to send Villa through to the semi-finals of the 2023/24 UEFA Europa Conference League after beating LOSC Lille 4 – 3 on penalty kicks.

Aston Villa will now face Greek heavyweights Olympiacos in the Semi-Finals, with the first leg taking place at Villa Park on Thursday 2nd May. The second leg in Piraeus will be taking place a week later on Thursday 9th May 2024.

Excitement and anticipation are now building rapidly ahead of Aston Villa’s UEFA Europa Conference League Semi Final first leg match against Olympiacos on 2nd May.

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