Aston Villa 1-0 Zrinjski Mostar: John McGinn scores 95th minute header to secure Europa Conference League win
- Villans failed to break down Zrinjski Mostar side for the majority of the game
- This was Villa’s first points in their Europa Conference League campaign
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off’
Prince William addressed the Aston Villa players in the dressing room after their last gasp victory over Zrinjski Mostar.
The Prince of Wales is a huge Villa supporter and was at Villa Park to celebrate after John McGinn’s stoppage-time header got Villa’s Europa Conference League campaign off and running.
‘It is the third time I have met him,’ said Emery. ‘He is welcome as he is supporting us, feeling emotional with us.
‘He met the players and me and we were speaking about Aston Villa and his wishes for us to do something this year.’
McGinn had dug Emery out of a hole with his late strike as Villa had appeared to be heading for a result that would have given them one point from their opening two games.
John McGinn’s towering header nicked a vital win for Aston Villa’s European campaign
The skipper showed up just when Villa needed him most and saved Unai Emery’s blushes
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Emery arrived at Villa a year ago as a four-time Europa League winner and his side were installed as favourites for the Conference League this season. Yet until McGinn’s late intervention they were heading for a poor result.
Yet Emery will feel his decision to make six changes, not using his best players until after the break, was justified. When Ollie Watkins, Matty Cash and Douglas Luiz came on, the home side were much improved and had 27 attempts across the game.
Without injured trio Moussa Diaby, Boubacar Kamara and Jacob Ramsey, Villa were horribly flat in the first half, as Zrinjski were well-organised in their 5-4-1 shape and had little difficulty keeping the home side out.
Indeed, the Bosnian club had the best chance of the first half. Marijo Cuze sent Mario Ticinovic racing clear down the right and when the left-back produced a cross for Nemanja Bilbija, Emi Martinez made a super stop from point-blank range.
Apart from a couple of volleys from Nicolo Zaniolo and Lucas Digne, and an overhead-kick from Zaniolo, Villa did not threaten. It was no surprise to see Emery turn to his main men for the second half.
Aston Villa struggled to find the breakthrough despite dominating the entire game
Zrinjski Mostar’s fans were in excellent voice as they watched their side grab a point
Villa picked up the pace. McGinn and Diego Carlos had early chances, Watkins saw a penalty given then overturned when the ball was deemed to have hit Slobodan Jakovljevic in the face before striking his hand, and Carlos had a header kept out by the impressive Marko Maric.
Tempers frayed when Cash squared up to Bilbija and hit the deck holding his face, leading to several players jostling and yellow cards for Bilbija and Cash. Then Ezri Konsa and Youri Tielemans went close from distance.
Zaniolo hammered one into the Holte End and Emery turned away in disgust, either side of two penalty appeals by Cash that were dismissed. But Cash put in one final cross and McGinn guided it home expertly to win it.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Martinez 7; Konsa 6, Diego Carlos 6 (Traore 82), Lenglet 5.5, Digne 6); Bailey 6.5, Dendoncker 5 (Luiz 46, 6.5), Tielemans 5.5, McGinn 6.5; Zaniolo 6, Duran 5 (Watkins 46, 6.5)
Subs not used: Olsen, Marschall, Torres, Chambers, O’Reilly.
Goals: John McGinn
Booked: McGinn, Cash
Manager: Unai Emery 5.5
Zrinjski Mostar (4-2-3-1) : Maric 8; Corluka 6, Jakovljevic 7.5, Senic 7.5, Radic 7.5, Ticinovic 7.5 (Memija 73, 6); Hrvanovic 6.5 (Malekinusic 46, 6), Ivancic 7 (Kozulj 62, 6), Canadija 7 (Zlomisic 73, 6), Cuze 7; Bilbija 6.5 (Kis 77, 6)
Subs not used: Sefo, Nir On, Marin, Sabljic, Balic, Misic, Prskalo.
Booked: Hrvanovic, Bilbija
Manager: Krunoslav Rendulić 8
Referee: Urs Schnyder 5
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