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Olympiacos 2-0 Aston Villa (6-2 agg): El Kaabi stars again as Villa bow out of Europe

Aston Villa failed to produce a miraculous comeback against Olympiacos in the Europa Conference League. Here is the full match report.


Aston Villa bowed out of the Europa Conference League after failing to overcome Olympiacos in Piraeus.

The Midlands club arrived in Greece needing to overturn a two-goal deficit having lost 4-2 at Villa Park but things went from bad to worse after Ayoub El Kaabi scored 11 minutes in to stretch his side’s lead to three goals.

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Leon Bailey and Matty Cash had Villa’s best opportunities of the first half but it appeared to be a frustrating night in front of goal.

Olympiacos were happy to sit back and absorb the pressure and they looked incredibly dangerous on the counter-attack.

Their third came from another long ball over the top, with El Kaabi beating Villa’s formidable offside trap and bearing in on goal, finishing past Emiliano Martinez with ease.

It was another impeccable performance from the Greek side who had their opponent’s number across both legs.

They will go on to face Fiorentina in the final on 29 May.

How it happened

It was going to need a quick start from the Villa boys if they were to overturn the huge deficit and they got straight onto the front foot in the opening 10 minutes.

Ollie Watkins got on the end of a dangerous cross and looked to steer his header into the top corner but for some brilliant defending from David Carmo to nick the ball away at the last moment.

As expected, Olympiacos were opting to sit with most of their team behind the ball and hit on the counter-attack and they did exactly that 11 minutes in.

El Kaabi – who scored a hat-trick in the first leg – managed to put the ball in the net for the opener despite scuffing his strike from a Quini cross.

It was Daniel Podence on loan from Wolves who started the attack, threading the ball through to the full-back who had no problem picking out the only red and white shirt in the box.

What was always going to be a tough night for the Premier League side got tougher with the goal against the run of play but it was early enough in the game to leave Villa with some hope that they could somehow pull off a miracle.

They did fight back following the opener although there was some concern for Leon Bailey who was caught on an already strapped-up knee on the edge of the box, presenting the visitors with a free-kick in a dangerous opportunity.

Douglas Luiz stepped up but had no real power or precision on his strike.

Kostas Fortounis was teed up at the other end by Podence and his first-time strike looked destined for the bottom corner but for a good save from Emiliano Martinez.

For all of Villa’s possession, they were struggling to break Olympiacos down.

Matty Cash had a good chance after the ball was played across the box to him but he lost his footing and was unable to turn it home to reduce the deficit.

Bailey’s fierce strike was the last good chance of the first half and the Jamaican forced a good save out of Konstantinos Tzolakis, who tipped the ball around the post.

Emery made changes for the second half with Jhon Duran coming on in place of Moussa Diaby.

The striker almost had an instant impact after driving into the box and firing towards goal, causing the keeper to spill his shot but Olympiacos were able to clear their lines.

The home side had their third with ten minutes to go, with no way back for Villa after El Kaabi drove in on goal and fired past Martinez.

It was another long ball over the top for the striker who had the pace over Villa’s defenders and he gave the World Cup-winning goalkeeper the eyes before sending his shot in the opposite direction.

For as dominant as Villa were, Olympiacos were good value for their win, with the English side unable to ever get going away from home.

They were content to just go through the motions in the final few minutes and Emery threw on a few youngsters for good measure.

Tzolakis was never really tested by anyone in blue and he was more than happy to join in with the celebrations as the final whistle went.

What comes next?

Olympiacos march on to the final in their native homeland with the match being held at AEK Arena in Athens, which is about 15 kilometres away from their home ground.

They will face Serie A side Fiorentina who are looking for revenge having lost to West Ham in the final last season.

Villa will return to Premier League action on Monday, they welcome Liverpool in their penultimate game of the season with the chance to confirm their place in the Champions League for 2024-25.

Should Tottenham lose to Burnley on Saturday, the result against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will not matter as the North London club will no longer be able to close the seven-point gap.

It would likely put the painful Conference League loss out of their minds and the prospect of playing in Europe’s most elite competition is a brilliant result for Unai Emery and Co.

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Mitch Fretton

Mitch is a freelance sports journalist with experience working for LiveScore, GOAL and Colchester United. He has experience working from both his desk at home and in the press box at games covering the Champions League and international football.

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