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Greek tragedy for hosts in thriller at Villa

Greek tragedy for hosts in thriller at Villa

2024/05/02 22:11

A brilliant game at Villa Park saw Greek giants Olympiakos take a massive step towards a European final by defeating Aston Villa by four goals to two in the first-leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final. 


AVL XI: Olsen; Cash, Konsa, Lenglet, Digne; Bailey, Douglas Luiz, McGinn*, Rogers; Diaby, Watkins

AVL SUBS: Gauci, Wright, Diego Carlos, Pau Torres, Hayden, Munroe, Iroegbunam, Zaniolo, Kellyman, Young, Jhon Duran 

OLY XI: Tzolakis; Rodinei, Retsos, Carmo, Ortega; Vicente Iborra, Hezze; Fortounis*, Chiquinho, Podence; El Kaabi

OLY SUBS: Paschalakis, Papadoudis, Alexandropoulos, Quini, Richards, Horta, Prekates, Carvalho, Jovetic, El Arabi

Action: A European semi-final at Villa Park was inevitably greeted with an intense and exciting atmosphere but that was soon dampened by some impressive play by the visitors.

Former Wolverhampton Wanderers man Chiquinho managed to bobble the ball through to Morocco international Ayoub El Kaabi and the striker confidently finished past stand-in goalkeeper Robin Olsen. The goal was initially disallowed but a check with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) showed that the Olympiakos forward had been stood in a fair position and the Villains were behind.

That lead was soon doubled, too, once again through El Kaabi. Another former Wolves attacker, Daniel Podence this time, dinked the ball through to El Kaabi and he rounded Olsen before squeezing the ball into the Villa net.

Aston Villa tried to get a foothold in the game and their captain John McGinn had a couple of attempts but Olympiakos remained a threat and it was nearly the opposing captain, Kostas Fortounis, who next notched when his effort whistled just over the bar.

Just before half-time, though, the hosts did get themselves back into the tie when Moussa Diaby threaded a ball in behind for the on-rushing Ollie Watkins and the in-form forward fired brilliantly across goal and into the bottom corner.

The second-half began with a similar level of intensity from Villa and they shortly drew level. Leon Bailey put Diaby into an excellent position and then the former Bayer Leverkusen man passed an effort across goal from a tight angle to make it all-square.

However, parity didn’t last long when Douglas Luiz handled the ball in the box and a penalty was awarded to the Greeks. Ayoub El Kaabi stepped up to seal his hat-trick.

Quite extraordinarily, the Greek giants then managed to re-establish their two-goal advantage. Santiago Hezze’s long-range strike took a nick off the back of Ezri Konsa and wrong footed Robin Olsen to make it 4-2 in Birmingham.



The drama was not done there, though, with Fortounis and El Kaabi both having efforts unconvincingly saved by Olsen before Aston Villa then had a glorious opportunity to get a goal back after a sustained period of pressure when a penalty was awarded for a handball by David Carmo but Douglas Luiz stepped up and flashed the ball wide off the outside of the post.

Villa continued to attack and had excellent chances for both Lucas Digne and John McGinn but they could not close the gap ahead of the trip to Piraeus next week.

The big picture: Aston Villa were boosted by Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 defeat to Chelsea with it now looking very likely they will secure a top four spot and UEFA Champions League qualification but it will take an almighty effort to secure a European trophy now. Olympiakos have a weekend off in the Greek Super League as they try and chase AEK, PAOK and Panathinaikos domestically so they will be fresh for the second-leg.

Man of the match: Ayoub El Kaabi. The Moroccan international put on a finishing clinic in the first-half and his hat-trick has given Olympiakos an extremely good chance of reaching a European final. 



’16 | GOAL: El Kaabi (0-1)

’28 | GOAL: El Kaabi (0-2)

’45 | GOAL: Watkins (1-2)


’52 | GOAL: Diaby (2-2)

’56 | GOAL: El Kaabi [pen] (2-3)

’67 | GOAL: Hezze (2-4)

’86 | MISS PEN: Douglas Luiz




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2024-05-02 22h30m by omitchellsonjones
Olympiakos dominated possession and put on a masterclass in counter-attacking football, leaving Villa fans disappointed with their team's performance. Despite a late rally in the second half, it seems like a tough road ahead for Aston Villa in the second leg. As a Villa fan, I'm hoping for a miracle comeback but realistically, it seems like our European journey may be coming to an end.
2024-05-02 22h23m by hturnerford
Olympiakos dominated possession and showed their class as they took control of the game early on. Despite a valiant effort from Aston Villa, the Greek giants proved to be too strong, securing a comfortable 4-2 victory.

As a Aston Villa fan, I am devastated by this result. Olympiakos played brilliantly and deserved the win. Our defense struggled to keep up with their attacking power and we were unable to capitalize on our chances. It's a tough loss, but we
featured game(s)
U Thursday, 02 May 2024 - 20:00
Villa Park
Marco Guida
Ollie Watkins 45'
Moussa Diaby 52'
Ayoub Kaabi 16' 29' 56' (pen.)
Santiago Hezze 67'


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