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Villa out as Olympiakos reach Conference League final

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Five of Ayoub El Kaabi’s 10 Europa Conference League goals this season have come against Aston Villa

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.

Olympiakos defy odds in European run

Despite winning a record 47 Greek league titles, before this season Olympiakos had never advanced beyond the quarter-finals of a Uefa competition.

The Athens side are on a remarkable run, having been 4-1 down to Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv in the last 16 before advancing after extra time and needing a penalty shootout to beat Turkish giants Fenerbahce in the last eight.

Spaniard Mendilibar is their fourth head coach of the season and has only been in the post since February.

They became the first Greek side to reach a European final since Panathinaikos, who were beaten by Ajax in the 1971 European Cup final at Wembley.

‘The idea of seeing a Greek club in the final is unthinkable’

Analysis from Greek journalist Kostas Lianos on BBC Radio 5 Live

This is history. This is destiny. I’m a Greek football fan, I don’t get to watch moments like this very often. I have Euro 2004 and now I have this one.

The idea of seeing a Greek club in the final of a major European competition is unthinkable, if anyone said that in the middle of the season they’d think you’re insane.

Olympiakos signed 16 players in the summer, four of them have been dropped, two of them have been sent out on loan. They then bought eight more in January, and only three of them are in the European squad list.

Now they are going to a final. To many people they are the favourites now.

Olympiakos have been trying to do this since 2010 when owner Evangelos Marinakis took over. They have kept on dreaming, failing to get out of the group stages in 14 of the last 16 times, with a Greek owner, with a Greek budget.

This has been in the works for many, many years.

Player of the match

El KaabiAyoub El Kaabi

Olympiakos

  1. Squad number9Player nameEl Kaabi

  2. Squad number56Player nameDaniel Podence

  3. Squad number7Player nameFortounis

  4. Squad number65Player nameApostolopoulos

  5. Squad number5Player nameAndré Horta

  6. Squad number19Player nameMasouras

  7. Squad number45Player nameRetsos

  8. Squad number8Player nameIborra

  9. Squad number16Player nameDavid Carmo

  10. Squad number23Player nameRodinei

  11. Squad number18Player nameQuini

  12. Squad number6Player nameChiquinho

  13. Squad number88Player nameTzolakis

  14. Squad number32Player nameHezze

Aston Villa

  1. Squad number2Player nameCash

  2. Squad number1Player nameE Martínez

  3. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

  4. Squad number11Player nameWatkins

  5. Squad number3Player nameDiego Carlos

  6. Squad number14Player nameP Torres

  7. Squad number31Player nameBailey

  8. Squad number4Player nameKonsa

  9. Squad number12Player nameDigne

  10. Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz

  11. Squad number19Player nameDiaby

  12. Squad number47Player nameIroegbunam

  13. Squad number69Player nameMunroe

  14. Squad number24Player nameDurán

  15. Squad number71Player nameKellyman

  16. Squad number29Player nameKesler-Hayden

Line-ups

Olympiakos

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 88Tzolakis
  • 23de AlmeidaBooked at 30mins
  • 45Retsos
  • 16Mota Veiga Teixeira do Carmo
  • 18Marín RuizBooked at 67minsSubstituted forApostolopoulosat 77′minutes
  • 8Iborra de la FuenteSubstituted forLuz Hortaat 73′minutes
  • 32Hezze
  • 7Fortounis
  • 6Lima Silva Machado
  • 56PodenceBooked at 53minsSubstituted forMasourasat 64′minutes
  • 9El Kaabi

Substitutes

  • 1Paschalakis
  • 5Luz Horta
  • 11El Arabi
  • 15Alexandropoulos
  • 19Masouras
  • 20Carvalho
  • 22Jovetic
  • 65Apostolopoulos
  • 70Prekates
  • 74Ntoi
  • 99Papadoudis

Aston Villa

Formation 5-4-1

  • 1E Martínez
  • 2CashSubstituted forKesler-Haydenat 86′minutes
  • 4Konsa
  • 3Diego CarlosSubstituted forIroegbunamat 65′minutesBooked at 73mins
  • 14P Torres
  • 12DigneSubstituted forMunroeat 86′minutes
  • 31BaileySubstituted forKellymanat 86′minutes
  • 7McGinn
  • 6Douglas LuizBooked at 45mins
  • 19DiabySubstituted forDuránat 58′minutesBooked at 89mins
  • 11Watkins

Substitutes

  • 17Lenglet
  • 18Gauci
  • 24Durán
  • 25Olsen
  • 29Kesler-Hayden
  • 47Iroegbunam
  • 66Patterson
  • 69Munroe
  • 71Kellyman
  • 72Young

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