Express & Star

Europa Conference League play-off: Aston Villa 3 Hibernian 0 (Agg 8-0) - Report

Two legs of a European clash are rarely faultless, but this performance from Aston Villa against Scottish side Hibernian was as close as you can get.


It was the first slice of European action at Villa Park since 2010, and it was almost a shame the excitement around the evening was less than it could have been had qualification not been a forgone conclusion.

Their performance in Scotland more than a week ago, ensured that, after they beat Hibernian 5-0 on their own patch thanks to an Ollie Watkins hat-trick.

Rarely will fans arrive at a football match when the overall result is so obvious but a sell-out crowd at Villa Park turned up in their numbers as they calmly dispatched a modest Hibbs side 3-0 on the night.

Jhon Duran, who was making his first Villa start, got the first goal inside the opening 15 minutes before Leon Bailey doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark.

Matty Cash celebrated his call-up to the Polish national squad with his third goal of the week on the hour mark firing home from close range to make it three.

Despite numerous chances to add more goals and an unnecessary eight minutes of stoppage time Villa saw it through.

The result sees them enter the Europa Conference League group stages - a competition that Premier League side West Ham are the holders in.


Unai Emery made six changes from the side that won at Burnley at the weekend. There were debuts for Sebastian Revan and Omari Kellyman while Youri Tielemans and Duran made their first starts for the club.

A comeback was never going to happen, and Villa made doubly sure of that just 11 minutes in when Duran scored with pretty much his first touch of the evening.

The ever-impressive Pau Torres played a wonderful through ball which the Villa striker raced on to. David Marshall came way off his line when it looked like the visitors would have enough men back to defend it, and Duran slotted it past him.

The hosts were not overly convincing in the opening exchanges, Robin Olsen was forced into a save from Jordan Obita's effort from distance, but the visitors had an even better chance moments later when Josh Campbell's effort from close range was also saved by Olsen.

But Villa's class, even though much-changed, started to come through, and in the 34th minute, they added a second of the evening - to make seven on aggregate.

Bailey this time with the goal, as he received the ball from Kellyman and ran at the Hibs defence. They gave him far too much room and predictably he cut onto his left and rolled it into the corner of the net.

There were some alarms for Villa. Olsen almost lost control of the ball inside his six-yard box before managing to recover and the reliable Ezri Konsa was forced into a big block to deny Campbell again.

The Villa boss clearly had an eye on the weekend with a trip to Liverpool on the horizon as he took off Konsa and Boubacar Kamara, fresh off the back of his call-up for France, at the break.

John McGinn and Matt Cash were the ones who came on.

Duran looked as threatening as ever and his shot from distance stung the palms of Marshall in goal. From the resulting corner, Calum Chambers found himself in space but when he should have scored he scuffed it and the chance was gone.

Just after the 60-minute mark Cash added a third for Villa after Marshall had spilled Bailey's free-kick from distance. He was the quickest player to react and he slammed it into the back of the net.

Both managers made changes as the game wore on and Villa should have added to their lead when Watkins went close as did McGinn but they were denied.

The result helped Villa keep up the good momentum they have had since their disappointing opening-day defeat in Newcastle.

The more minutes Emery's side have played the more that results looks like a complete outlier with them scoring 15 goals in four matches since - while only conceding once.

They also have a host of players out injured including star World Cup winner Emi Martinez.

If Villa are to go far in this competition they will face much tougher tests than the one offered by Hibbs - but they handled the tie ruthlessly and showed immense professionalism.


Villa: Olsen, Konsa (Cash 45), Chambers, Pau (Carlos 62), Revan, Bailey, Kamara (McGinn 45), Luiz (Dendoncker 66), Tielemans, Kellyman, Duran (Watkins 62).

Subs: Marschall, Zych, Cash, Carlos, McGinn, Watkins, Digne, Diaby, Dendoncker, O'Reilly, Feeney.

Hibs: Marshall, Miller, Hanlon, Youan (Boyle 65), Newell, Jeggo, Stevenson, Obita (Fish 54), Doidge (Le Fondre 54), Campbell (Molotnikov 89), Bushiri.

Subs: Boruc, Johnson, Fish, Vente, Boyle, Le Fondre, Harbottle, Delferriere, Molotnikov, McAllister, Megwa, MacIntyre.