Aston Villa fight back to beat Lille on penalties in Conference League quarter-finals


Aston Villa fight back to beat Lille on penalties in Conference League quarter-finals

Aston Villa fight back to beat Lille in Europa Conference League
Aston Villa fight back to beat Lille in Europa Conference LeagueAFP
Aston Villa booked their place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa Conference League, winning 4-3 on penalties against LOSC Lille after a 2-1 defeat on the night and a 3-3 aggregate draw, with the English side making the final four of a European competition for the first time in 21 years.

With just three games potentially separating one of these two sides and the final in Athens, both could be forgiven for dreaming of rare European success - Villa have only lifted continental silverware aloft on one occasion 42 years ago, albeit in the European Cup, while Lille, other than one Intertoto Cup triumph, have never stood on the top step of the podium in a UEFA competition.

Trailing 2-1 after the first leg, the onus was on Lille to take the game to their opponents, and they did just that early on.

Jonathan David’s volley over the bar in the 10th minute was the match’s opening attempt, and by the quarter-hour mark, Les Dogues were in front.

Gabriel Gudmundsson fizzed a low ball into the penalty area, where Yusuf Yazici was waiting to sweep home a first-time strike into the bottom corner. 

Emiliano Martinez later needed to be alert to keep out Yazici’s header, with the ball striking him clear in the face for his troubles.

In the end, Villa were perhaps fortunate Lille managed just one goal prior to the interval.

Match stats before penalties
Match stats before penaltiesOpta by StatsPerform

Little changed after the break. The visitors did at least fire off a shot in anger when Matty Cash found the side netting from inside the area, but they remained toothless and exerted almost no pressure.

Lille, meanwhile, stayed positive and, although they were hardly peppering Martinez between the Villans' sticks, they looked more likely to score.

And so it proved midway through the second period, as Benjamin Andre flicked Hakon Arnar Haraldsson’s corner home via the post.

Considering Unai Emery’s men defeated Premier League title-challengers Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium at the weekend, their tepid performance was surprising.

Besides a Cash’ drive from distance that stung Lucas Chevalier’s palms, they did not threaten.

However, on the brink of elimination, they were gifted a lifeline, as a collision between Bentaleb and Chevalier saw the ball fall to Cash, who hammered in via a deflection to send the tie to extra time.

Buoyed by the Poland international’s intervention, Villa improved drastically in the additional 30 minutes and, had it not been for two stunning saves from Chevalier as he denied Leon Bailey before somehow pushing Douglas Luiz’s headed rebound over the bar, they would have put themselves in the driving seat.

The final opening of normal time fell to Jhon Duran, but Chevalier was equal to it once more. And so, penalties were needed to decide the victor.

After a miss apiece from either side, Martinez, who had been close to a red card even in the shoot-out, kept out Andre’s spot-kick to send his team through.

In the second leg, Villa were second best, but they stood firm and got the job done, and now, Olympiacos or Fenerbahce await.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Yusuf Yazici (Lille)

Get all of our stats from this match here.


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