Express & Star

Emi Martinez receives decision on potential suspension for Europa Conference League semi-final first leg

Emi Martinez will be suspended for the first leg of Villa’s Europa Conference League semi-final with Olympiacos after being booked twice in Thursday’s dramatic win over Lille.


The goalkeeper was shown two yellow cards in France but not sent-off, as the second of those came during the penalty shoot-out in which he made two saves to earn his team a famous victory.

However, Martinez has now picked up three bookings in the competition - all in the two matches with Lille - meaning he will be banned for the home leg with Olympiacos on May 2.

The Argentina international, booed throughout the night, was booked for time-wasting in the first half and then again when referee Ivan Kruzliak deemed him to be inciting the crowd after saving from Nabil Bentaleb, with most of those inside the stadium - including many of Villa’s players - unaware of the rule that cards are re-set at the start of a penalty shoot-out.

Villa are understood to have expressed frustration over the second booking, with Martinez claiming he was only signalling to a ball boy to throw a ball on the pitch ahead of Ollie Watkins taking the visiting club's second penalty.

But while Unai Emery on Friday claimed Villa were in talks with Uefa in the hope of earning their goalkeeper a reprieve, the club have no grounds to appeal the decision.

Martinez was Villa’s hero - and once more the villain in France - after saving from Bentaleb and Benjamin Andre as Unai Emery’s team scraped into the last-four with a 4-3 shoot-out win, after the tie had finished 3-3 on aggregate.

His tie-clinching save from Andre took place with riot police stood behind the goal. It was the first time Martinez had played in France since enraging the nation with his antics during the 2022 World Cup final.

He said: “I get motivated by the fans and through my life when I’ve had stuff thrown on my back I always get up. It gives me fuel to perform.

“I love this football club and playing a European semi-final for them is incredible. My career keeps going up and up, and it is 42 years since we’ve been here in European competition. It’s remarkable and we should celebrate these victories.

“We want to go all the way and that’s the message we had after the game. We need to have that mentality to think that when we play the next game we kill off the game at home.

“We need the home supporters to turn up on Sunday against Bournemouth and give us a boost because people are going to be tired.”