The crowd cheers LOSC Lille at Stade Pierre-Mauroy
UEFA Europa League

Lille fall on penalties to Aston Villa

Lille fall on penalties to Aston Villa

UEFA Europa League
Publish on 04/18 at 22:30 - E. DEVIN


Despite going ahead in the tie thanks to Yusuf Yazici and Benjamin André, Les Dogues were pegged back late on by the visitors, before being eliminated in a penalty shootout.

On Thursday evening at a raucous Stade Pierre-Mauroy, LOSC Lille took the pitch hoping to overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit in the Europa Conference League quarterfinals. The tie, against Aston Villa, represents the furthest the northern side had progressed in European competition in their history, bettering their run to the Champions League Round of 16 in 2022.

With the advantage of not having played football at the weekend, Paulo Fonseca’s side were eager to turn things around, something that was apparent from kickoff. Les Dogues entered the match on a fifteen-game unbeaten streak at home, but had their hands full with a Villa signing coming off a vital win against Arsenal in the league.

In the absence of Edon Zhegrova, Fonseca made the choice to start Yusuf Yazici on the right flank, and after a tenuous start, it was the Turkey international who made the difference. After a brilliant long ball out of the back from youngster Leny Yoro, Gabriel Gudmundsson controlled the ball and sent in a low cross, which Yazici duly lashed into the net.

Chances were relatively scarce for the rest of the first half, but Hakon Arnar Haraldsson almost put Lille ahead in the tie just after the interval, having been gifted a chance thanks to a loose touch from Youri Tielemans in midfield. Matty Cash responded with a chance for the visitors, but his effort drifted wide ten minutes later.

Villa’s first chance of the game drove a quick response from the hosts, as captain Benjamin André struck with a sublime header across goal to double the lead and put his side ahead on aggregate. Unai Emery’s side labored to find a response, and eventually received one with a fortuitous strike from Cash, as his deflected effort with three minutes left in normal time made the tie 3-3 on aggregate.

In the penalty shootout, Emiliano Martínez, the bête noire of the 2022 World Cup final for France, proved decisive, as he kept out efforts from both André and Nabil Bentaleb. Lille 'keeper Lucas Chevalier had stopped Leon Bailey, but his work went for nought as Douglas Luiz followed André’s miss with the decisive penalty, sending the English side through to the semifinals.

Lille will now have to pick themselves up as they welcome RC Strasbourg on Sunday in Ligue 1. Currently in fourth place, Les Dogues will aim to keep OGC Nice, RC Lens and the rest of the chasing pack at arm’s length before taking on AS Monaco next midweek in a massive clash.

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