Express & Star

Unai Emery delighted with Leon Bailey's Aston Villa impact

Unai Emery saluted Leon Bailey after the winger set rampant Villa on their way to a 4-1 win at AZ Alkmaar.

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Bailey bagged his sixth goal of the season as Emery’s team finally underlined their status as Europa Conference League favourites in Holland.

The Jamaica international has tended to produce his best performances at home rather than away and Villa’s head coach admitted that was an area he was focused on improving.

Emery said: “Leon Bailey, he has a big potential and tonight he played fantastic.

“He is not being in good balance in playing at home and away, always taking better performances at home than away, and that’s his challenge.

“Tonight he played very well. He is trying to improve and to increase his level in the demands we are trying to get with the squad, with the team, with the players.

“Really, I am very happy with him today. The last match at home as well against West Ham he played very well too. It’s fantastic for him and the team.”

Bailey also had a big hand in second half goals for Ollie Watkins and John McGinn after Youri Tielemans, who also shone, had doubled the lead. Ibrahim Sadiq then fired in a consolation for the hosts.

The emphatic win but Villa in command of Group E at the midway point and Emery said: “We were speaking before the match about how important the match is, trying to be competitive away and trying to be focused for 90 minutes. We did it.

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“I am very happy with the players because I think they have to be mature, responsible and demanding themselves, not only when I’m pushing them.

“They have to try to increase their own individual and collective level. Tonight was fantastic because it was a key match and it was important. We have to be in the same idea and mentality.

On Tielemans’ performance, he added: “I told him, sometimes we have to be patient in ourselves and we have to be patient with him.

“He is a very good player and he is going to show it here, I’m sure 100 per cent. He needed and he will need more time to be comfortable in our structure.”