Express & Star

John McGinn sounds Aston Villa warning after conceding late in European tie

Skipper John McGinn warned Villa can't afford to keep switching off after a late goal gave Lille life in their Europa Conference League quarter-final.


Unai Emery’s men looked in control of the tie when McGinn struck 11 minutes into the second half to put them 2-0 up, after Ollie Watkins had earlier opened the scoring with his 25th goal of the season.

But Lille defender Bafode Diakite took advantage of slack marking to head home an 84th minute corner and ensure the tie is very much alive heading into next week’s second leg in France.

Villa have made an unfortunate habit of allowing opponents back into matches, having conceded three times in nine minutes after being 2-0 up in last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Brentford.

McGinn told TNT Sports: "The manager was very frustrated about what happened at the weekend, letting Brentford back into the game.

“They're a very good side but we allowed them back in, we relaxed a bit and that's just not acceptable when you're chasing what we're chasing. We've got a lot of improving to do.”

Goalkeeper Emi Martinez was Villa’s man-of-the-match, making one-on-one saves three times in the first half.

McGinn continued: "It was quite up and down, and the stadium felt quite flat at the end. It's important to recognise it's a victory against a very good team.

"Lille played really well tonight and I think they showed us how tough it's going to be next week. But we're in the quarter-finals and while we'd have preferred it to be 2-0, a win's a win.”

Villa face another quick turnaround as they travel to Arsenal tomorrow, while Lille are one of several clubs to have been granted the weekend off by the French League, in order to give them the best chance of progressing in Europe.

Emery believes that has made the challenge facing Villa harder. The boss wrote in Thursday’s programme: “They decided as a country to help the local teams with a weekend of rest after our match, in a clever and protective decision.

“For me it won’t ever be an excuse, whatever happens, but it is always good to think and learn from a neighbour’s good decision.”