Saturday, June 3, 2023

Emery relieved as Douglas Luiz strike rescues Villa from Bees sting

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 22 Apr 2023


Unai Emery was “so happy” to see Aston Villa scramble a 1-1 draw at Brentford after losing World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to illness at half-time.

Sickly Argentina shot-stopper Martinez started the game at the Brentford Community Stadium but was replaced by Robin Olsen at the break.

When Olsen conceded in the 65th minute as Ivan Toney converted Bryan Mbeumo’s cross, it was looking like being an afternoon to forget for sixth-placed Villa, but they rallied for what could be a priceless Premier League point.

Douglas Luiz slotted their 87th-minute leveller, and although Villa’s five-match winning run ground to a halt, the result in west London was one that satisfied head coach Emery.

He told BBC Sport: “For 90 minutes we didn’t control the game. It was a very difficult time. Only two teams have won here this season. Our game plan was to be strong in our mentality for 90 minutes.

“We didn’t create big chances, but we were defending well. Our reaction in the last 15 minutes was very good.”

Emery said his players must look to recover from a tough afternoon against the Bees in order to be at their sharpest for Tuesday’s home game against Fulham.

“Brentford made it difficult,” Emery added. “We are very demanding, but we have to understand the matches being difficult. I told the players I’m so happy with this draw because it was difficult.

“We can play better and we have to demand to play better for the next matches. Today here we tried to keep our game plan strong.”

Emery made the point that Villa have set up the chance to earn a European place, and must now kick that ball over the line.

They have scored in all 19 of their Premier League games under Emery’s leadership, which is the longest consecutive scoring run any team has had from the start of a manager’s tenure in the competition’s history.

“The most important thing was our reaction. Try to compete and be a candidate to play in Europe,” Emery said. “We’re there. Now is the key moment, the difficult moment, to get to the next step.”

Regarding Martinez, Emery is hopeful the goalkeeper’s discomfort will prove to be just a fleeting problem.

“Before the match, the last meal, he was feeling bad with his stomach,” Emery said. “He started the match and played the first half.”

By the break, Martinez “wasn’t feeling good”, said Emery, who added: “Hopefully he’ll recover for the next match.”


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