Villa destroy Ajax as they charge into the Europa Conference League quarter-finals

Following the defeat to Tottenham the weekend, Villa’s attention turned to the Europa Conference League last sixteen game against Ajax at Villa Park.

Ajax held Villa to a 0-0 draw in Amsterdam a week before and Unai Emery’s side knew they had to improve on that performance should they progress.

De Godenzonen supporters had arrived in Birmingham as early as Tuesday with some having the displeasure of watching our rivals across the city lose against Middlesbrough at St Andrews. More fans arrived on Thursday, drinking in various bars around the city centre in a confident mood and genuinely mixing well with Villa supporters.

As the game approached and fans began to make their way towards Villa Park and the surrounding areas, security was ramped up with the police not wanting to take any chances following the scenes against Legia Warszawa.

From what I witnessed, Ajax fans behaved very well so it was a shame to see such scenes but I understand why the police behaved that way. Their fans were a credit to their club making themselves heard inside the ground throughout the game. Best of luck for the rest of the season Ajax!

Anyway, onto the game.

Report: Aston Villa 4-0 Ajax

It was the perfect European night. The atmosphere from both fans was rocking before kick-off and the usual fireworks and displays we have come to expect from Villa this season helped in the build-up.

Emery made four changes from the defeat the weekend as Àlex Moreno, Diego Carlos, Moussa Diaby and Morgan Rodgers were all handed starts.

Villa came out the blocks fast as Leon Baily came close early on but fired wide and then Diaby, who was called up to the French national side earlier in the day, rounded the keeper only to see his effort cleared for a corner.

The resulting corner resulted in Villa taking the lead. Douglas Luiz picked out Ollie Watkins who dipped a delightful header into the top corner to make it 1-0.

Watkins was then involved in a collision with Ajax keeper Diant Ramaj and the striker seemed to be struggling. After a lengthy injury period, the England international tried to run it off but was soon replaced by Jhon Durán. Emery later revealed it was a deep cut and hopefully Watkins will be available for the game against West Ham on Sunday.

Durán was proving difficult for the visitors but his final touch was letting him down and the home side doubled their lead on the hour mark. Baily’s trickery double stepover was enough to beat the defender before nestling his shot into the bottom corner.

It was a completely different game from the one we witnessed in Amsterdam. Villa looked in complete control and chances of the visitors getting back into the contest looked slim. Sivert Mannsverk was given his marching orders for a second yellow after pulling back on Durán. The third red card over the two ties is quite bizarre given there wasn’t a strong challenge over the two games.

Ajax looked a beaten side and it wasn’t long before Durán got his goal. Confusion between the opposition defence allowed the Columbian to fire from the 18-yard box and his effort cannoned off the underside of the bar. Goal line technology confirmed the ball had gone over the line. 3-0.

The fourth was similar to the third. Another calamity mix-up by the Ajax defence but this time it was Diaby on hand to make it 4-0 and complete the rout.

What Unai Said

“We were very respectful of them,”

“We were how we need to be to face them here, try to feel comfortable with the supporters at Villa Park, with confidence and our skills. More or less, we did it. The first half was progressively better for us. The second half was easier for us after the red card.

“I think we deserved it. We are motivated because we want to win this competition.”

Up Next

Aston Villa will travel to the capital on Sunday as they face West Ham United in the Premier League with a 2 pm kick-off.

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