OLYMPIAKOS BEAT ASTON VILLA 2-0 TO REACH UECL FINALS AGAINST FIORENTINA

Aston Villa’s Europa Conference League run ended at the semi-final stage as opponents Olympiakos set up a final with Fiorentina.

Having lost the first leg 4-2, Villa fell to a 2-0 defeat in Greece to lose their tie 6-2 on aggregate.

Ayoub El Kaabi – who scored a hat-trick in the first leg – opened the scoring in Piraeus, tapping in Marin Ruiz’s low cross in the 10th minute against the run of play.

Unai Emery’s side dominated possession but lacked composure in the final third.

And El Kaabi benefitted from a tight offside call to double his tally with eight minutes remaining by latching on to a long pass forward and burying a shot beyond Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Villa were hoping to reach their first European final since Tony Barton’s team won the European Cup in 1982.

Instead, Olympiakos will play in their first European final at the home of rivals AEK Athens on 29 May.

And there will be no English club in a European final for the first time in four seasons.

Villa’s 28-year trophy wait goes on

The damage had already been done seven days earlier at Villa Park when competition favourites Villa¬†were stunned by Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side.

In Athens, the Premier League outfit started on the front foot but were caught out on the counter-attack as Olympiakos went into a three-goal lead in the tie with their first attack of the night.

Villa controlled things for the rest of the half but rarely threatened until just before the break when Greek keeper Konstantinos Tzolakis tipped over Leon Bailey’s effort from range.

Jhon Duran also had a shot saved after the restart and Ollie Watkins had a header kept out in the final stages on a disappointing night for the Villains.

Villa could still end their season on a positive note. They need just three points from their final two Premier League games to ensure qualification for next season’s Champions League.

But the club’s wait for a first major trophy since the 1996 League Cup, and a first European title in 42 years, continues.

Kesh Awefada

Kesh Awefada

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