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Aston Villa 2-4 Olympiakos: Europa Conference League semi-final, first leg – as it happened | Europa Conference League

Written by on May 2, 2024

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Right then, I’ll bid farewell because Ben Fisher is the man to read. Here’s his report from Villa Park.

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Results from elsewhere. Leverkusen’s stubborn refusal to ever lose is rather something.

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Olympiakos’ players have lined up and are bouncing in front of the visiting support. A wonderful time for all who’ve travelled over.

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What a fantastic night for Olympiakos and, in particular, their No 9, El Kaabi. He was clinical, following up a first-half brace with a second-half penalty. He returns home with the match ball. Villa could have narrowed the deficit to one, but Douglas Luiz’s penalty was wayward.

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FULL-TIME: Aston Villa 2-4 Olympiakos

Villa, for the first time in the Europa Conference League this season, lose at home.

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90+5 min: Watkins shows clever feet inside the box before a heavy touch sees the ball escape his control and go out for a goal kick.

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90+4 min: Olympiakos clear long as Villa try and neatly work it around the box.

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90+2 min: Villa work it well to the left, where Digne delivers the ball in … but the very solid Tzolakis cleverly collects in the middle.

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90+1 min: Five minutes added on, with Retsos down inside his own box, eating up some of that.

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90 min: Durán tries to win the goal of the millennium award with an acrobatic effort from the edge of the box but fails to make proper contact.

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88 min: Tim Smith writes: “Was so hoping the Olympiacos number 23 would score an own goal or get a red card, so we could all say: ‘Rodinei, you plonker.’ On another note, the Prem teams without recent European experience are really getting found out by some modest teams with that experience. Or are Villa just missing Emi?”

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87 min: Luiz drifts through the middle before playing a nice pass on to the advancing McGinn. His left-footed shot lacks in strength and intent, however, finding the safe hands of Tzolakis.

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84 min: Diaby is off for Zaniolo. Bailey is replaced by Iroegbunam. Villa are desperate.

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Douglas Luiz misses the penalty!

There’s a delay as players tussle outside the box … Douglas Luiz clips the outside of the right post!

Douglas Luiz sends the penalty wide! Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters
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Penalty for Aston Villa!

82 min: Durán goes down and the ref points to the spot! There’s a handball shout in there before Carmo brings down the forward to make it a clear call.

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80 min: Fortounis delivers a gorgeous, teasing ball into the box from the right that is just about dealt with by Villa. A corner follows for Olympiakos and a shot from range is saved well by Olsen, diving to his left.

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78 min: Douglas Luiz sends it in; Watkins heads wide.

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77 min: Villa have a free-kick out on the right, one to get into the box.

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74 min: Durán is on for Villa as Emery goes in search of a goal or two. Even one will leave them feeling good for that second leg.

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73 min: Nice work between Watkins, Digne and Rogers sees the midfielder slide the ball across goal from the left. Keeper reads it well.

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72 min: Watkins’ first touch inside the box from a Rogers pass is heavy, and he has to work it back for a shot on his right foot. Straight at the keeper, though.

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70 min: Podence steals the ball centrally but can’t dink the ball in to El Kaabi’s feet inside the box. That’s Podence’s last act in what’s been a superb individual performance; André Horta replaces him.

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GOAL! Aston Villa 2-4 Olympiakos (Hezze 67)

Deflected and in! Hezze tries his luck from just outside the box, the ball ricochets off Konsa’s back and Olsen, who was moving to his left, tries to adjust but can’t do enough to keep it out.

Santiago Hezze scores a fourth goal for the greek side! Photograph: Jan Kruger/UEFA/Getty Images
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65 min: Lenglet cleans up a long ball at the back and Villa’s fans roar as they come forward again.

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64 min: Rogers’ cross from the right is lashed into the side-netting.

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63 min: The good news for Villa? Chelsea have beaten Tottenham.

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61 min: Villa work it wonderfully through the middle, with Watkins running on to the final pass played … but Tzolakis reads it quickly and rushes out of his box to clear. It rebounds off Watkins but flies safely out for a goal kick.

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59 min: Rogers turns well and plays in Watkins inside the box. He delivers from the left to the front post where Diaby attacks the ball. Corner. It comes in and Olympiakos deal with it and the leftovers from it.

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GOAL! Aston Villa 2-3 Olympiakos (El Kaabi 56)

Hat-trick for El Kaabi! He steps up and, with ease, clips it down the left. Olsen went the other way. Olympiakos are, rather quickly, back in front.

Ayoub El Kaabi sends Olsen the wrong way and Olympiakos lead again. Photograph: Molly Darlington/Reuters
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Penalty for Olympiakos!

55 min: Olympiakos have a corner from the right, and Fortounis delivers deep with Retsos’ header blocked … and it’s a penalty! Luiz is the man who got in the way, and at close range, his hands were up.

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GOAL! Aston Villa 2-2 Olympiakos (Diaby 52)

And we’re level! Lenglet plays it out wide to Bailey on the right who plays a neat ball into the box for Diaby to chase on to. Instead of cutting back he tries his luck at goal, and the ball creeps in at the near post from a very tight angle. Villa are ascendant.

Moussa Diaby levels it for Villa! Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
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51 min: Villa take possession of the ball and look sharp now, having fired off a wave of attacks to begin this half.

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50 min: Rogers shows strength to turn and drive through the middle before Bailey’s shot from the right is blocked by Richards. Villa continue to press forward, with McGinn’s shot from the edge of the box blocked, too.

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49 min: Bailey overhits an inside pass for Diaby to chase on to inside the box. Diaby offers a thumbs up, clearly liking what his teammate was trying.

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48 min: Podence dinks a ball in to the Villa box, something he relished doing in the first half. El Kaabi doesn’t snatch on to this one.

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47 min: Rodinei rushes down the right-hand side and wins a couple of throws before Villa win it back.

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Peep again!

Olympiakos make a change: Omar Richards replaces Ortega. Villa get things going.

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The players are making their way back out. Should be going again pretty soon.

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A medical emergency in the crowd has delayed the start of the second half. Hope all’s OK.

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HALF-TIME: Aston Villa 1-2 Olympiakos

Carnage! What a terrific first 45. Villa were poor to begin with, with El Kaabi making two excellent runs to get in behind and finish with aplomb. But Emery dished out a mid-half hairdryer during a brief stoppage and they’re on it now, with Watkins – so reliable for them – completing a fine team move at the end of the half.

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45+3 min: Villa press forward and Luiz’s shot flies over – but the hosts have finally found their intensity.

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GOAL! Aston Villa 1-2 Olympiakos (Watkins 45+1)

Game on! Cash drives down the right, plays the ball to Diaby in the middle, who works a delicious pass into the box for Watkins to leap on to. The low first-time finish from the right-hand side of the area slides past Tzolakis and Villa believe.

Ollie Watkins scores for Villa! Photograph: Jan Kruger/UEFA/Getty Images
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45 min: There’s contact between the pair but it does look like Bailey is looking for the tangle.

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44 min: Bailey twists and turns inside the box and goes down … but the ref isn’t having any of it. No penalty. Ortega is the man who tangled with the Villa winger.

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43 min: Olympiakos go short with a corner before it’s worked in to the middle, nearly dropping perfectly for El Kaabi to have a hit … but he plays it safe and opts for the pass. A goalkick is the end point of the attack.

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42 min: Cash goes through the back of Podence with a leaping header – Villa just slightly losing their cool.

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40 min: Podence and Luiz have a spat, and the ref intervenes to calm things down.

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39 min: Podence leads Olympiakos’ counterattack and Fortounis hits a drive from the right … that just goes over Olsen and the crossbar. Another promising wave forward from the tourists.

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