UECL: Olympiacos and Villa through on pens; Fiorentina advance | OneFootball

UECL: Olympiacos and Villa through on pens; Fiorentina advance | OneFootball

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Peter Fitzpatrick·18 April 2024

UECL: Olympiacos and Villa through on pens; Fiorentina advance

Article image:UECL: Olympiacos and Villa through on pens; Fiorentina advance

The Europa Conference League quarter-final second-legs took place tonight, with eight teams looking to book their spot in the last four.

Olympiacos seal semi-final spot with shootout win over Fenerbahçe

Scorers: Kahveci 11′

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Olympiacos silenced The Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, defeating Fenerbahçe 3-2 on penalties after a 4-4 draw on aggeregate, and setting up a semi-final with Aston Villa.

Fenerbahçe took the lead in the 11th minute, Iryan Kahveci brilliantly finishing from the right-hand side of the box after being picked out by Sebastian Szymański.

In front of a red-hot crowd, the Turkish side were on top for much of the first-half, dominating possession as Olympiacos struggled to get a foothold in the game.

Into the second 45 and it was Fener who looked the more likely to score, with Olympiacos failing to have a shot on target by the 70-minute mark.

The Greeks held firm, however, as the tie headed for extra-time.

In extra-time, the home crowd tried to roar their side, all while heavily booing any time Olympiacos touched the ball.

The visitors almost snatched the crucial goal deep into extra-time, hitting the bar and then having the ball cleared off the line in the space of ten seconds.

Both sides continued to push for the winner with Dušan Tadić coming mightily close for the home side, but with bodies and minds tiring, penalties seemed inevitable.

Olympiacos went down to 10 men right before the shootout with defedender Andreas Ntoi being shown a second yellow for a flailing elbow.

Tadić, Cengiz Under and Leonardo Bonucci were the fall guys for Fener in the shootout as Olympiacos’ 21-year-old keeper Konstantinos Tzolakis made himself a hero and took his side into the last four.

It is the first time a Greek side has gone this far in a major European competition since 1996, and the dream of playing in the Athens final remains alive and well for the the Thrýlos.

Club Brugge brush aside PAOK to set up semi-final with Fiorentina

Scorers: Jutglà  33′, 45′

Club Brugge made light work of PAOK to book a Europa Conference League semi-final with Fiorentina.

The opening 20 minutes saw the sides share possession with neither looking very likely to score. Of course, that suited Brugge more with their slender 1-0 lead from the first-leg.

Brugge took the lead on the night in the 33rd minute, Ferran Jutglà finishing neatly inside the box after being found with an inch-perfect Kyriani Sabbe cross.

It was 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate, as Jutglà got another with another close range finish.

Brugge remained on top in the second half, restricting the hosts to very few chances as their hopes of getting back into the tie faded by the minute.

That hope ended in a whimper as the Belgian side made a European semi-final for the first time since 1991/92.

Martínez madness in shootout as Villa sneak past Lille

Scorers: Yazici 15′, Andre 68′; Cash 88′

Aston Villa defeated Lille 4-3 on penalties after a 3-3 draw on aggregate, with Emi Martínez once again the hero in a penalty shootout.

Inside a raucous Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Martínez was booed relentlessly as the game kicked off due to comments made following Argentina’s World Cup final win over France.

Jonathan David was, unsurprisingly, the danger man for Lille, and had his first shot inside 10 minutes, firing over from distance.

The hosts took the lead, and levelled the tie at 2-2, on the 15-minute mark through Yusuf Yazici. Gabriel Gudmundsson went clear down the left and pulled the ball back for the Turkish midfielder to brilliantly side foot home.

With momentum behind them, Lille nearly got a second shortly after but Martínez did very well to stop Benjamin André’s flick on from Yazici’s free kick.

Villa could barely get a hold of the ball and their plight was worsened by Nicolò Zaniolo suffering an apparent hamstring injury. He was replaced by Morgan Rogers.

Unai Emery’s side finally got into the game as the half-time whistle approached – perhaps their exertions at the Emirates on Sunday had taken their toll to begin with. In contrast, Lille had a free weekend, as did any French side still in Europe.

Lille looked comfortable as the second half started, with Villa struggling to get the ball and do anything bar sit and try and counter.

The hosts flipped the tie on its head in the 68th minute, the captain André getting a head on the ball at the near post from a corner and looping it over everyone and into the net.

Desperate for a goal, Villa seriously struggled to create any chances with Ollie Watkins almost non-existent in the game.

Eventually, Matty Cash tested Lucas Chevalier with a rasping 30-yard drive but, bar that, a corner felt like their best chance at rescuing the tie.

Cash got the goal Villa needed with just two minutes left on the clock, the right-back hammering the ball in via a deflection after Chevalier made a mess of a cross.

Bafodé Diakité, who scored late on at Villa Park, came close to winning the tie in injury-time but his header was straight at Martínez as the game went to extra-time.

Lille almost scored through Tiago Santos, whose shot whisked inches past Martínez and the post.

Martínez was again in the thick of it during the penalty shoot-out, getting a yellow card (his second but not a red due to it coming after the 120 minutes) after he had saved Lille’s first spotkick from Nabil Bentaleb before stopping André’s to seal the win for Villa.

Emery’s men will face off against Olympiacos as they look to make a first European final since 1982.

Fiorentina eventually get past dogged Viktoria Plzeň

Scorers: González 92′, Biraghi 108′

Fiorentina finally found a way past Viktoria Plzeň to progress to a second consecutive Europa Conference League semi-final, where they will meet Club Brugge.

With the score 0-0 from the first leg, Fiorentina looked to get the first goal of the tie and started much the brighter, dominating possession as Plzeň looked to keep things tight to start with in Florence.

La Viola must have been wondering how they did not score after 30 minutes, with 10 shots on the visitors’ goal. They twice hit the woodwork, first when Nicolás González’s wonderful curled effort was tipped onto the post by Martin Jedlička and then when Andrea Belotti hit the post with a header in the same overall passage of play.

The Plzeň keeper made another outstanding save from Christian Kouamé shortly after as the Czechs somehow stayed on level terms.

It was more of the same in the early stages of the second half, with Fiorentina dictating play.

Things got even harder for Plzeň when they went down to 10 men in the 67th minute, Cadu being sent off after a yellow card was upgraded to red after a VAR check.

Amazingly, they held out for extra-time despite not having a single shot across 90 minutes.

Just two minutes into the added 30, González finally struck for Fiorentina, firing home after a corner came his way.

It was 2-0 in the 108th minute as the 10 men faded, Cristiano Biraghi scoring after La Viola hit Plzeň on the counter and sealed progress to the last four.