Moreno hits winner as Villa take control of group

2 months ago 59
Alex Moreno celebratesAlex Moreno's second-half winner was his first in a Villa shirt

Alex Moreno returned from a six-month injury lay-off to score the winner as Aston Villa beat Legia Warsaw to move above them at the top of Europa Conference League Group E.

The Spanish defender was named in Unai Emery's starting XI for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in May, and was on hand to turn home Douglas Luiz's pinpoint free-kick for already-qualified Villa.

Emery's team had led through Moussa Diaby's first-half drive, before being pegged back after Ernest Muci took advantage of Boubacar Kamara's stray pass at the back.

Despite the jubilation, news filtered through that missiles were thrown at police outside the ground before kick-off, resulting in Legia supporters not being allowed to enter the stadium.

Villa had already qualified before kick-off thanks to AZ Alkmaar's win over Zrinjski Mostar earlier in the day but they couldn't find a third goal which would have sealed top spot in the group.

Despite that, the narrow victory over the Polish side means Emery's side only need a point at Zrinjski on matchday six to progress as group winners.

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Thursday's win is Villa's seventh in a row at home in all competitions since the Carabao Cup defeat by Everton, and they started the match at a pace that illustrated that form.

With their very first attack Diaby cut inside on his left and finished clinically, before Ollie Watkins' replacement Jhon Duran saw a couple of efforts thwarted by Legia goalkeeper Kacper Tobiasz.

Muci then levelled for the visitors with a sublime curled effort following Kamara's rushed pass from the edge of the box, which appeared to take the sting out of the hosts.

Emery's team had to win by two clear goals to guarantee top spot on the night, and the pace at which they approached the second half was indicative of that knowledge.

Legia defender Gil Dias struck the bar with a looping header soon after the restart, but after Moreno's finish at the back post edged Villa ahead, it was the home side who dominated proceedings.

Substitute Leon Bailey thought he had got the all-important third goal when he lofted the ball over Tobiasz in the dying moments, but the ball rebounded off the underside of the bar and the goalline before spinning away.

'He is important' - Emery on Moreno

Alex Moreno celebratesAlex Moreno made 19 appearances for Aston Villa last season after arriving at the club in January

Moreno was forced off with a hamstring injury in Villa's 1-1 draw with Liverpool back in May and hadn't featured again for them before Thursday's match.

The full-back has been involved in matchday squads in recent weeks but such has been the form of Villa - Emery's team sit fourth in the Premier League - he has not been able to take game time away from Lucas Digne.

The 30-year-old was given the nod against Legia and repaid his manager's faith with the decisive goal, before a standing ovation greeted him when he was substituted on 78 minutes.

Emery said: "He is very important. Alex Moreno was very excited and wishing to play.

"He scored one goal and now we can have more players being ready and available to help the team."

Diaby added: "I am very happy for Alex. He has a big injury and we know Alex is a good player, a good person. I am very happy for him that he scored the second goal and this goal won us this game."

Player of the match

Álex MorenoÁlex Moreno

with an average of 6.91

Aston Villa

Squad number15Player nameÁlex Moreno

Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz

Squad number31Player nameBailey

Squad number41Player nameJ Ramsey

Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

Squad number12Player nameDigne

Squad number19Player nameDiaby

Squad number22Player nameZaniolo

Squad number32Player nameDendoncker

Squad number8Player nameTielemans

Squad number4Player nameKonsa

Squad number17Player nameLenglet

Squad number24Player nameDurán

Squad number2Player nameCash

Squad number44Player nameKamara

Squad number25Player nameOlsen

Legia Warsaw

Squad number20Player nameMuçi

Squad number13Player nameWszolek

Squad number99Player nameSlisz

Squad number1Player nameTobiasz

Squad number28Player nameGual

Squad number55Player nameJedrzejczyk

Squad number27Player nameJosué

Squad number22Player nameElitim

Squad number3Player nameKapuadi

Squad number33Player nameKun

Squad number17Player nameGil Dias

Squad number12Player namePankov

Squad number9Player nameKramer

Squad number67Player nameKapustka

Squad number21Player nameÇelhaka

Squad number39Player nameRosolek

Line-ups

Aston Villa

Formation 4-4-2

25Olsen2Cash4Konsa17Lenglet15MorenoSubstituted forDigneat 79'minutes8TielemansBooked at 53minsSubstituted forJ Ramseyat 71'minutes44Kamara6Douglas LuizBooked at 41minsSubstituted forDendonckerat 90'minutes7McGinnSubstituted forBaileyat 71'minutes19DiabyBooked at 36minsSubstituted forZanioloat 79'minutes24DuránBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

1E Martínez3Diego Carlos12Digne14P Torres16Chambers22Zaniolo31Bailey32Dendoncker41J Ramsey42Marschall

Legia Warsaw

Formation 3-4-3

1Tobiasz12Pankov55JedrzejczykBooked at 75mins3Kapuadi13WszolekBooked at 41minsSubstituted forRosolekat 83'minutes99SliszSubstituted forÇelhakaat 76'minutes22Elitim17Bastião DiasSubstituted forKunat 55'minutes27Soares PesqueiraSubstituted forKapustkaat 76'minutes28GualBooked at 39minsSubstituted forKramerat 55'minutesBooked at 68mins20Muçi

Substitutes

4Burch5Ribeiro7Pekhart8Augustyniak9Kramer21Çelhaka26Rejczyk30Hladun33Kun39Rosolek67Kapustka86Strzalek

Live Text

Match ends, Aston Villa 2, Legia Warsaw 1.

Second Half ends, Aston Villa 2, Legia Warsaw 1.

Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Radovan Pankov (Legia Warsaw).

Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Radovan Pankov (Legia Warsaw).

Jhon Durán (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Jhon Durán (Aston Villa).

Juergen Elitim (Legia Warsaw) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Hand ball by Blaz Kramer (Legia Warsaw).

Substitution, Aston Villa. Leander Dendoncker replaces Douglas Luiz.

Leon Bailey (Aston Villa) hits the bar with a left footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Robin Olsen with a through ball.

Foul by Jhon Durán (Aston Villa).

Artur Jedrzejczyk (Legia Warsaw) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Legia Warsaw. Maciej Rosolek replaces Pawel Wszolek.

Offside, Legia Warsaw. Bartosz Kapustka is caught offside.

Jhon Durán (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Artur Jedrzejczyk (Legia Warsaw).

Corner, Legia Warsaw. Conceded by Matty Cash.

Substitution, Aston Villa. Nicolò Zaniolo replaces Moussa Diaby.

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