Aston Villa defeat Lille 2-1

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Aston Villa secured a narrow first-leg advantage over Lille in their Europa Conference League quarter-final, with goals from Ollie Watkins and John McGinn, coinciding with Unai Emery’s 1,000th game as a manager.

Watkins capitalized on being left unmarked in the box, heading in from a McGinn corner in the 13th minute.

McGinn extended Villa’s lead in the 56th minute with a powerful strike into the bottom corner after receiving a pass from Leon Bailey, who had been played the ball from a corner.

Lille managed to pull one back with six minutes remaining, as Bafode Diakite flicked in a header from Angel Gomes’ cross.

Despite Villa having a goal ruled out for offside after a thorough VAR review, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez showcased his prowess with crucial saves, including denying Gudmundsson and Jonathan David.

In stoppage time, Lille’s Yusuf Yazici narrowly missed curling a shot wide of the top corner, adding tension to the closing moments of the game.

The second leg, scheduled for next Thursday at Stade Pierre Mauroy (17:45 BST), offers Lille the opportunity to overturn the one-goal deficit.