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Unai Emery: Plenty of work for Aston Villa to do in second leg

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 Apr 2024

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Aston Villa boss Unai Emery knows his side have plenty of work to do in next week’s Europa Conference League quarter-final second leg in Lille.

Villa will travel to France with a 2-1 advantage thanks to first-leg goals from Ollie Watkins and John McGinn gave the on-looking Prince of Wales something to cheer about.

But Lille showed they are no pushovers and Bafode Diakite’s late header kept the tie alive after they had been repelled by an impressive performance from Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Villa must now go to northern France next week and finish the job if they are to make their first European semi-final since they won the European Cup in 1982.

That will not be an easy task as the French football federation have postponed Lille’s Ligue 1 game this weekend to give them extra time to prepare and they have only been beaten once at home all season.

Emery, who celebrated his 1,000th game as a manager, said: “Difficult match, we are ready to play another 90 minutes, we played the first 90 minutes, we didn’t control the game like we wanted and defensively we were doing more work than we prepared for because we wanted to control the game with our positioning.

“With the respect we have got for them, they showed it.

“The result is tight, but more or less it was a fine for both teams. Now another 90 minutes, enjoy playing in Europe, enjoy playing a quarter-final.

“Be ready to play 90 minutes, even extra time, even a penalty shootout because now it is in this moment everything is difficult.”

Lille boss Paulo Fonseca, who almost took over at Newcastle and Tottenham in the last few years, felt Watkins’ goal should have been disallowed for a foul by Morgan Rogers on Ismally.

“I don’t understand what is going on, it was a foul on the first goal,” he said.

“I understand it is difficult for the referee with VAR it is just incredible they miss these things. It’s not good what is going on in football, the referees must look at what is going on in the moment.

“A lot of matches, it is not football, it is blocking like in basketball. The first goal was a clear foul, a clear block. Being physical is one thing, fouling is another.”

However, after the way they created chances at Villa Park, Fonseca knows the tie is very much alive.

“We created the opportunity to get a better result,” he added. “I’m satisfied with the courage of my players but at the end of the day, we’ve lost.

“I know that it’s difficult match, they’ve got great players, a great coach and a lot of experience so they have certain advantages but I must continue to believe it’s possible.”

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