UECL: Villa take narrow lead to France; Brugge win; Olympiacos hang on | OneFootball

UECL: Villa take narrow lead to France; Brugge win; Olympiacos hang on | OneFootball

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Adam Booker·11 April 2024

UECL: Villa take narrow lead to France; Brugge win; Olympiacos hang on

Article image:UECL: Villa take narrow lead to France; Brugge win; Olympiacos hang on

The UEFA Europa Conference League quarter-finals kicked this evening with four games across two windows. Here is what went down around the grounds.

Aston Villa narrowly beat Lille

Scorers: Watkins 11′, McGinn 57′ ; Diakité 84′

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A cracking atmosphere inside Villa Park pushed the hosts on in the opening minutes, but they struggled to create big chances in as they found their feet.

It did not take the hosts long to break the deadlock however, as Ollie Watkins continued his red-hot season by firing home the opener inside 15 minutes.

It was a back-and-forth affair after Watkins opened the scoring, as Lille forced a flurry of big saves out of Emi Martínez.

The Villans perhaps should have had their chance to double their lead when Watkins was taken down in the box, but no penalty was given.

It was no worry for Unai Emery’s men however, as skipper John McGinn found the back of the net from a corner-routine before the hour mark.

Lille appeared to pull one back when Gabriel Gudmundsson scored at the back-post, but the goal was chalked off after a VAR review revealed that the winger was offside.

The visitors finally found joy in the dying minutes however, and it was Bafodé Diakité who scored from close-range to change the complexion of the tie.

Brugge miss opportunity to take control

Scorers: Vetlesen 8′

A missed penalty saw Brugge miss their chance to take command of their tie, but did manage a narrow first-leg win against PAOK.

It was a scintillating start from the Belgian outfit, as they treated their home fans with a superb team move that was capped off by Hugo Vetlesen.

The visitors somehow hung on to keep their deficit at just one heading into the break, despite plenty of Brugge pressure.

Brugge appeared to have their chance to double the lead and take control of the tie, but Raphael Onyedika saw his penalty-kick saved in style to keep the hosts’ lead to just one.

Fiorentina take stalemate back to Italy

Fiorentina will bring a stalemate back to Italy after drawing away to Viktoria Plzeñ in the first-leg.

The game settled into a comfortable pattern for Fiorentina in the opening 15 minutes, as the Serie A outfit dominated the ball while the hosts looked to find openings on the break.

The best chance fell to the home side however, as former Burnley man Matěj Vydra sent his shot just wide of the post after a rip-roaring counterattack.

The visitors pushed to find an opener after the restart, but a Viktoria Plzeñ team that had not conceded a goal at home in Europe in six straight proves a tough nut to crack.

Fenerbahçe avoid calamity with late fight-back

Scorers: Fortounis 8′, Jovetić 32′, Chiquinho 57′ ; Tadić (P) 68′, Kahveci 74′

Fenerbahçe fought back to pull to within one in the tie, setting up for a spicy affair in Istanbul in the second-leg.

It did not take long for Olympiacos to take advantage of their early superiority, opening the scoring through a Kostas Fortounis strike from outside the box.

It went from good to great for the hosts just past the half-hour mark when Stevan Jovetić doubled the lead to give Olympiacos breathing room in the tie.

The match, and perhaps the tie, was all but put to bed after the break when Chiquinho stepped in from midfield to give the hosts a three-goal advantage before the hour mark.

The game exploded into life in the subsequent period however, as Fenerbahçe snatched two quick goals through Dušan Tadić, from the penalty spot, and İrfan Kahveci respectively.