Aston Villa Secure Narrow First-Leg Advantage Over Lille in Europa Conference League Quarter-Final

Aston Villa secured a slender first-leg lead over Lille in their Europa Conference League quarter-final, with goals from Ollie Watkins and John McGinn providing the difference in a closely contested match.

Watkins opened the scoring in the 13th minute, rising unmarked in the box to head in from a McGinn corner.

McGinn then doubled Villa’s lead in the 56th minute with a powerful strike into the bottom corner after being set up by Leon Bailey.

Lille pulled one back in the 84th minute through Bafode Diakite’s header from Angel Gomes’ cross, setting up an intriguing second leg.

Despite Lille’s late surge, Villa held on for the victory, with goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez making crucial saves to preserve the lead.

The second leg will take place next Thursday as Lille aim to overturn the deficit at Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Watkins showcased his excellent form once again, taking his season tally to 25 goals in all competitions and proving instrumental in Villa’s victory.

Speaking after the match, Watkins expressed his confidence and gratitude towards the fans, emphasizing his commitment to scoring goals for the team.

However, Villa manager Unai Emery expressed some concerns about his team’s defensive structure, highlighting the need to address vulnerabilities despite the positive result.

Villa’s home form in the Conference League remains impeccable, with six wins out of six matches and 14 goals scored, as they continue their pursuit of their first European trophy since 1982.

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