So Sad: Aston Villa Captain John McGinn Goes Again Just After His…

Before Villa’s score, Emery yelled at Watkins, and McGinn made a “not acceptable” confession.

Next week, Aston Villa will go to France with the advantage as Unai Emery’s team looks to secure a spot in the Europa Conference League semifinals.

Ollie Watkins scored the opening goal for Aston Villa against Lille

On Thursday night, Lille, a very skilled squad, displayed great football at Villa Park. They might consider themselves unlucky to have lost the quarterfinal first leg 2-1, but Villa can also feel upset about blowing a two-goal advantage. Villa had to make do with a slim lead after Bafode Diakite cut Lille’s deficit in half in the 83rd minute.

Despite the visitors having the better of the first several minutes, Ollie Watkins had opened the score in the thirteenth. At the beginning of the second half, John McGinn doubled Villa’s advantage by stroking the ball past Lucas Chevalier from the box’s boundary.

Emery Milestone is celebrated by HOLTE End.

Emery accomplished what has been the foundation of his career on the occasion of his 1,000th managerial game: victory in Europe. Villa was long since set as the early favorites to win the competition, but Emery must control those hopes and maintain his players’ realistic expectations.

Villa had to prove they deserved the trophies in their first two group stage matches, losing at Legia Warsaw before defeating Zrinjski Mostar 1-0 late in the game at home. Villa are in good hands as they make their journey to Athens—only two coaches in history have won as many UEFA championships as Emery.

Thursday night at Villa Park, the Holte End serenaded Emery before kickoff by toasting to Emery’s incredible achievement with a long, fat tifo.

Emery demands attention.

Throughout the whole game, Emery was passionate on the sidelines and would frequently yell directions at his players. The Villa Park fans were enraged after Watkins was hauled down inside the box during a period when Villa gained the upper hand and a penalty was not given. However, Emery signaled for calm by waving his arms up and down.

Then, as Watkins approached referee Espen Eskas to voice his displeasure about Benjamin Andre’s tackle in the box, Emery yelled at him to continue playing the game. He was aware that Villa was ahead and that there would soon be a second goal. It did as promised from John McGinn a few minutes later.

After full-time, Emery gave Watkins an explanation for his repeated conversations with him. He remarked, “I was reminding him of the game plan when they were trying to help them in the build-up, dropping some midfielders and doing some tactical movement.” “In an effort to prevent it, we needed to better position ourselves on the field.”



Watkins bagged his 25th goal of the season to give Villa the lead against Lille and has now scored three in his last two games having hit a double against Brentford last weekend. He’s in the form of his life, but he gives this Villa side so much more than just goals.

The striker sets the press for Villa, constantly harries defenders and chases every loose ball.

“It’s nice to hear your name being sung by the fans,” Watkins admitted to TNT Sports. “I just try to repay them by scoring goals but when I’m not doing that I’m always working hard.

“That’s the number one thing when I go on the pitch to make sure nobody can question my mentality and my work rate and then the goals will come so just enjoy.”


It’s clear that Villa must improve defensively to give themselves the best chance of qualifying for Champions League football and claiming Europa Conference League glory in the final weeks of the season. Diakite’s late goal now changes the complexion of the tie after he scored some 15 minutes after Villa were given a wake-up call when Gabriel Gudmundsson’s goal was ruled out for offside by VAR.

Villa’s quality told against Lille on Thursday night, but the Ligue 1 side fancied their chances in the final because the hosts were vulnerable defending their box and Emi Martinez had to make three top saves to keep Villa ahead before the break. Defending set-pieces are a particular concern at present.

“It’s very important to try to control set pieces in games offensively and defensively,” Emery said after full-time. “We have to try to be stronger in our structure because they [Lille] were sometimes threatening us more than we wanted.”

John McGinn doubled Aston Villa's lead

He added: “Set pieces are very important and the away team has a good structure to try to threat us, blocking players and trying to use the power. We have to try to be demanding ourselves, to prepare as good as possible and try to defend everything.

“But sometimes the opponent has power and they can score. But we keep going, we move on and analyse this deeply for the second leg, being ready to play.”


A two-goal lead would have put Villa in a very strong position to advance to the semi-finals, so naturally, fans left Villa Park feeling a little flatter than they had 15 minutes beforehand. McGinn admitted that Villa still have lessons to learn when seeing out games.

“It was quite up and down, and the stadium felt quite flat at the end. It’s important to recognise it’s a victory against a very good team,” McGinn said after full-time. “Lille played really well tonight and I think they showed us how tough it’s going to be next week. But we’re in the quarter-finals and while we’d have preferred it to be 2-0, a win’s a win.

“The manager was very frustrated about what happened at the weekend, letting Brentford back into the game. They’re a very good side but we allowed them back in, we relaxed a bit and that’s just not acceptable when you’re chasing what we’re chasing. We’ve got a lot of improving to do.”


Despite their loss, Lille will have gained the respect of the Villa supporters and might play even more confidently the next week. The Dogues will be fired up for the second leg in front of their home crowd, and Villa needs to be ready for that.

In his news conference following the game, Fonseca stated, “I feel frustrated because I think we played a good match this evening.” “We made the conditions to get an improved outcome. We ended up losing, but I’m proud of my teammates’ bravery considering how we went into the game. But following the game, I’m aware of it’s a challenging game. Villa has a strong squad with excellent players and a superb coach.

“They have a lot of experience so they have certain advantages. I must continue to believe it is possible. I think in general all the players played well … it is not easy to come here and play against a team like Aston Villa and to do what we did. We did lots of good things out on the pitch and I think we played generally well.

“We just need to concentrate, we need to recover, we need to prepare our match well. We’ve got time to do so. They’re leading but we have to believe. In the first half we had three one on ones with their goalkeeper. It is difficult to accept when you have three one on ones like that in the first half … I’m not happy to have chances like that, against a team like Aston Villa. We need to be more clinical.”

Lille midfielder Gudmundsson said: “Aston Villa are a good side so it was hard out there, like we expected. We competed well and the goal at the end was crucial, to be honest – it gets us right back into the tie.”


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