Advertisement

Villa beat Lille 2-1 in Conference League; held

Aston Villa's John McGinn celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Aston Villa and Lille at Villa Park. Joe Giddens/PA Wire/dpa

Aston Villa beat Lille 2-1 in the first leg of their Conference League quarter-final on Thursday to take a first step towards a first European semi-final since they won the Champions Cup in 1982.

Ollie Watkins headed Villa ahead in the 13th at the far post, and captain John McGinn slotted into the bottom left corner for 2-0 in the 57th.

Lille were denied several times by goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, had a goal disallowed for offside but got an important late goal from Bafode Diakite's 84th-minute header.

Villa won under the eyes of Prince William and his son Prince George in what was the 1,000th match of their manager Unai Emery but still face a tough return leg in France next week.

"It was important that we won the game and then go into the second leg a goal up. It feels like a lot of hard work has been put in," Watkins told TNT Sports.

"Little bit disappointing to have conceded at the end, gives them a little bit of belief going into the second leg. We've had a lot of opportunities and 2-1 is a bit disappointing, I think it should have been three or four."

Elsewhere, Olympiacos overcame a late comeback from Fenerbahce to win 3-2, Club Brugge beat the other Greek side PAOK 1-0, and Fiorentina drew 0-0 at Victoria Plzen.

The Piraeus hosts were 3-0 up after 57 minutes from Kostas Fortounis, Stevan Jovetic and Chiquinho, seemingly weel on course towards the semi-finals.

But Fenerbahce battled back from Dusan Tadic's 68th minute penalty and Irfan Can Kahveci six minutes later to stay alive in the tie into their home leg next week.

Olympiacos and PAOK are bidding to reach the May 29 final in Athens, with Salonika side PAOK having to rebound from defeat in Belgium from Hugo Vetlesen's early strike. PAOK goalkeeper Dominik Kotarski saved a late penalty from Thiago.

Czech side Plzen played to their third 0-0 draw in a row against Fiorentina, after last 16 stalemates against Switzerland's Servette who they beat on penalties. Home goalkeeper Martin Jedlicka and his defence frustrated the Italian visitors who can however decide matters next week in Florence.

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Aston Villa and Lille at Villa Park. Zac Goodwin/PA Wire/dpa
Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Aston Villa and Lille at Villa Park. Zac Goodwin/PA Wire/dpa
Lille's Gabriel Gudmundsson (L) and Aston Villa's Ezri Konsa battle for the ball during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Aston Villa and Lille at Villa Park. Joe Giddens/PA Wire/dpa
Tempers flare between Lille's Gabriel Gudmundsson and Aston Villa's Ezri Konsa (R) during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Aston Villa and Lille at Villa Park. Joe Giddens/PA Wire/dpa
Tempers flare between Lille's Gabriel Gudmundsson and Aston Villa's Ezri Konsa (R) during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Aston Villa and Lille at Villa Park. Joe Giddens/PA Wire/dpa
Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins (L) and Lille's Leny Yoro battle for the ball during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Aston Villa and Lille at Villa Park. Zac Goodwin/PA Wire/dpa
Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins (L) and Lille's Leny Yoro battle for the ball during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Aston Villa and Lille at Villa Park. Zac Goodwin/PA Wire/dpa
Viktoria Plzen's Lukas Kalvach (R) and Fiorentina's Lucas Beltran battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa Conference League soccer match between Viktoria Plzen and Fiorentina at Doosan Arena. Kamaryt Michal/CTK/dpa
Viktoria Plzen's Lukas Kalvach (R) and Fiorentina's Lucas Beltran battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa Conference League soccer match between Viktoria Plzen and Fiorentina at Doosan Arena. Kamaryt Michal/CTK/dpa
Viktoria Plzen's Pavel Sulc (R) reacts after missing a scoring chance during the UEFA Europa Conference League soccer match between Viktoria Plzen and Fiorentina at Doosan Arena. Kamaryt Michal/CTK/dpa
Viktoria Plzen's Pavel Sulc (R) reacts after missing a scoring chance during the UEFA Europa Conference League soccer match between Viktoria Plzen and Fiorentina at Doosan Arena. Kamaryt Michal/CTK/dpa
Viktoria Plzen's Lukas Cerv (R) and Fiorentina's Lucas Beltran battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa Conference League soccer match between Viktoria Plzen and Fiorentina at Doosan Arena. Kamaryt Michal/CTK/dpa
Viktoria Plzen's Lukas Cerv (R) and Fiorentina's Lucas Beltran battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa Conference League soccer match between Viktoria Plzen and Fiorentina at Doosan Arena. Kamaryt Michal/CTK/dpa
Club's Raphael Onyedika and PAOK's Soualiho Meite battle for the ball during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Club Brugge and PAOK at Jan Breydel Stadium. Bruno Fahy/Belga/dpa
Club's Raphael Onyedika and PAOK's Soualiho Meite battle for the ball during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Club Brugge and PAOK at Jan Breydel Stadium. Bruno Fahy/Belga/dpa
Club's Jorne Spileers, PAOK's goalkeeper Dominik Kotarski and Club's Ferran Jutgla battle for the ball during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Club Brugge and PAOK at Jan Breydel Stadium. Kurt Desplenter/Belga/dpa
Club's Jorne Spileers, PAOK's goalkeeper Dominik Kotarski and Club's Ferran Jutgla battle for the ball during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Club Brugge and PAOK at Jan Breydel Stadium. Kurt Desplenter/Belga/dpa
PAOK's Giannis Konstantelias and Club's Hans Vanaken battle for the ball during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Club Brugge and PAOK at Jan Breydel Stadium. Bruno Fahy/Belga/dpa
PAOK's Giannis Konstantelias and Club's Hans Vanaken battle for the ball during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Club Brugge and PAOK at Jan Breydel Stadium. Bruno Fahy/Belga/dpa
Club's Hugo Vetlesen celebrates after scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Club Brugge and PAOK at Jan Breydel Stadium. Bruno Fahy/Belga/dpa
Club's Hugo Vetlesen celebrates after scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Conference League quarter-final first leg soccer match between Club Brugge and PAOK at Jan Breydel Stadium. Bruno Fahy/Belga/dpa