Aston Villa 2-1 Lille

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Goals from Ollie Watkins and John McGinn gave Aston Villa a narrow first-leg lead over Lille in their Europa Conference League quarter-final as Unai Emery marked his 1,000th game as a manager.

Watkins scored in the 13th minute, left unmarked in the box to head in from a McGinn corner.

Leon Bailey then played the ball to McGinn from a corner and he doubled the lead with a fierce strike into the bottom corner in the 56th minute.

With six minutes remaining, Lille got a goal back as Bafode Diakite flicked in a header from Angel Gomes’ cross.

Trailing 2-0, Lille thought they had got back into the game in the 67th minute but Gabriel Gudmundsson’s finish at the back post was ruled out for offside after a lengthy review.

Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was in inspired form, denying Gudmundsson from a tight angle and getting down low to save Jonathan David’s effort on goal.

In stoppage time, Lille substitute Yusuf Yazici curled just wide of the top corner as Villa endured a nervy end to the game, having been in control for the majority of the contest.

The second leg takes place next Thursday (17:45 BST) as Lille look to overturn the one-goal deficit at Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Watkins continues great form in important Villa win

The home side showed resilience to hold on in their 100th match in Uefa competition.

Watkins led from the front, creating three chances in three minutes as Villa grew into the game in the early stages.

His initial shot was blocked before his strike from the resulting corner was saved by Lille goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier.

McGinn crossed into the box from a corner and Watkins broke the deadlock, scoring a header while in plenty of space in the box.

The England international has now scored 25 goals for Villa in all competitions this season as he continues to make a case for his inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euros.

Watkins told TNT Sports: “Going into each game, I feel confident. I have a belief that I’m going to score and the team are going to play well.

“It’s nice to hear your name being sung by the fans. I just try to repay them by scoring goals.”

However, Emery will be concerned at the concession of a goal late on to give Lille hope, less than a week after they squandered a 2-0 lead in nine minutes at home to Brentford in the Premier League.

“We created chances, we conceded some chances. We have to try to be stronger in our structure because they were sometimes threatening us more than we wanted,” the Villa boss told TNT Sports.

Villa have won all six of their home matches in the Conference League so far, scoring 14 goals in the process as they continue to chase their first European trophy since 1982.

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