Emiliano Martinez stars as Aston Villa beat Lille on penalties

By Sports Desk April 18, 2024 109

Emiliano Martinez was the unsurprising star of a dramatic penalty shootout as Aston Villa edged past Lille and into the semi-final of the Europa Conference League.

The Argentina goalkeeper, who helped his country win the World Cup 18 months ago, produced some similar heroics in France, saving spot-kicks from Nabil Bentaleb and Benjamin Andre to earn a 4-3 shootout win after the quarter-final had ended 3-3 on aggregate after two legs.

There was plenty of his trademark dark arts on show as he shushed the baiting French crowd, who had not forgotten what happened in Qatar, and then caused confusion by receiving a yellow card from the referee in the middle of the shootout, having already been booked in normal time.

But bookings are not carried forward into the shootout meaning he could stay on and send Villa into a first European semi-final since 1982.

They were not deserving of victory, though, as they were outplayed for the majority of the second leg in France, with goals from Yusuf Yazici and Andre overturning a 2-1 first leg advantage.

Matty Cash’s 87th-minute strike sent it to extra-time, with Martinez coming up trumps in the shootout to give boss Unai Emery an eighth successive European quarter-final victory.

The Spaniard, so prolific in the Europa League with Sevilla and Villarreal will be eyeing another European trophy.

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Last modified on Thursday, 18 April 2024 14:59
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