Aston Villa 2-1 Legia Warsaw: Alex Moreno scores winner on return as Villa take control of group

1 December 2023 0 By Total Football News
Alex Moreno celebratesAlex Moreno's second-half winner was his first goal in a Villa shirt

Alex Moreno returned from a six-month injury lay-off to score the winner as Aston Villa beat Legia Warsaw and moved above them at the top of Europa Conference League Group E.

The Spanish defender was named in Unai Emery's starting XI for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in May, and was on hand to turn home Douglas Luiz's pinpoint free-kick for already-qualified Villa.

Emery's team had led through Moussa Diaby's first-half drive, before being pegged back as Ernest Muci took advantage of Boubacar Kamara's stray pass at the back.

Among Villa fans' jubilation, news filtered through that missiles were thrown at police outside the ground before kick-off, resulting in Legia supporters not being allowed to enter the stadium.

Police later said they made 39 arrests as officers were "faced with disgusting and highly dangerous scenes".

Villa had already qualified before kick-off, thanks to AZ Alkmaar's win over Zrinjski Mostar earlier in the day, but they couldn't find a third goal which would have sealed top spot in the group.

Despite that, the narrow victory over the Polish side means Emery's side only need a point at Zrinjski on matchday six to progress as group winners.

Thursday's win is Villa's seventh in a row at home in all competitions since the Carabao Cup defeat by Everton, and they started the match at a pace that illustrated that form.

With their very first attack Diaby cut inside on his left and finished clinically, before Ollie Watkins' replacement Jhon Duran saw a couple of efforts thwarted by Legia goalkeeper Kacper Tobiasz.

Muci then levelled for the visitors with a sublime curled effort following Kamara's rushed pass from the edge of the box, which appeared to take the sting out of the hosts.

Emery's team had to win by two clear goals to guarantee top spot on the night, and the pace at which they approached the second half was indicative of that knowledge.

Legia defender Gil Dias struck the bar with a looping header soon after the restart, but after Moreno's superb improvised volley at the back post edged Villa ahead, it was the home side who dominated proceedings.

Substitute Leon Bailey thought he had got the all-important third goal when he lofted the ball over Tobiasz in the dying moments, but the ball rebounded off the underside of the bar and the goalline before spinning away.

'He is important' - Emery on Moreno

Alex Moreno celebratesAlex Moreno made 19 appearances for Aston Villa last season after arriving at the club in January

Moreno was forced off with a hamstring injury in Villa's 1-1 draw with Liverpool back in May and hadn't featured again for them before Thursday's match.

The full-back has been involved in matchday squads in recent weeks but such has been the form of Villa - Emery's team sit fourth in the Premier League - he has not been able to take game time away from Lucas Digne.

The 30-year-old was given the nod against Legia and repaid his manager's faith with the decisive goal, before a standing ovation greeted him when he was substituted on 78 minutes.

Emery said: "He is very important. Alex Moreno was very excited and wishing to play.

"He scored one goal and now we can have more players being ready and available to help the team."

Diaby added: "I am very happy for Alex. He has a big injury and we know Alex is a good player, a good person. I am very happy for him that he scored the second goal and this goal won us this game."

Villa condemn pre-match trouble

Police contain Legia Warsaw fans outside Villa ParkA number of police officers were injured in a pre-match conflict between Legia Warsaw fans and police before kick-off at Villa Park

In a statement on the club's website, Villa confirmed no Legia Warsaw fans were allowed into the stadium and that some police officers had been injured during the disorder.

"In spite of numerous requests for cooperation from Legia Warsaw concerning their travelling supporters, especially in the last two days, no assistance on the serious safety matter of away fans attending Villa Park was forthcoming from the visiting club," they said.

"The club has repeatedly, including this morning, raised concerns in conjunction with Uefa and all the relevant authorities to Legia that ticketless away supporters were attempting to attend Villa Park.

"Approximately an hour before kick-off, Legia fans engaged in planned and systematic violent acts against West Midlands Police officers and a decision was then made by West Midlands Police to exclude all Legia supporters.

"Aston Villa strongly condemns the behaviour of those visiting supporters and would like to thank West Midlands Police for their professionalism in very difficult circumstances."

Police made 39 arrests during what they called "serious disorder" in which four officers, two police horses and two police dogs were injured. One of the officers needed hospital treatment.

"We had a significant policing presence in place because of safety concerns. This stemmed from visiting fans having been involved in previous match day disorder," a West Midlands Police statement added.

It added the trouble was "believed to have sparked when tickets were not distributed by the away club to supporters outside the ground, as had been anticipated".

After the match, Legia manager Kosta Runjaic was asked about the pre-match trouble.

"I think its a different topic, it's not my business," he said.

"I've been in a big focus to lead the team. We represented Polish football in a good way, all other things outside the stadium I don't want to comment.

"We have great fans, they support us home and away. We can always count on them. So far since I've been at Legia I've had a good experience with our fans. I don't know the content of it all happening.

"I don't know the details, which is why it's better I don't speak too much about it. Unfortunately our fans weren't in the stadium and the atmosphere would have been better.

"It's not about the fans, it's a pity but we can't change it."

Player of the match

Álex MorenoÁlex Moreno

with an average of 6.91

Aston Villa

  1. Squad number15Player nameÁlex Moreno

    Average rating

    6.91

  2. Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz

    Average rating

    6.85

  3. Squad number31Player nameBailey

    Average rating

    6.84

  4. Squad number41Player nameJ Ramsey

    Average rating

    6.77

  5. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

    Average rating

    6.67

  6. Squad number12Player nameDigne

    Average rating

    6.65

  7. Squad number19Player nameDiaby

    Average rating

    6.58

  8. Squad number22Player nameZaniolo

    Average rating

    6.56

  9. Squad number32Player nameDendoncker

    Average rating

    6.53

  10. Squad number8Player nameTielemans

    Average rating

    6.50

  11. Squad number4Player nameKonsa

    Average rating

    6.48

  12. Squad number17Player nameLenglet

    Average rating

    6.40

  13. Squad number24Player nameDurán

    Average rating

    6.37

  14. Squad number2Player nameCash

    Average rating

    6.30

  15. Squad number44Player nameKamara

    Average rating

    6.23

  16. Squad number25Player nameOlsen

    Average rating

    5.95

Legia Warsaw

  1. Squad number20Player nameMuçi

    Average rating

    5.26

  2. Squad number13Player nameWszolek

    Average rating

    4.72

  3. Squad number99Player nameSlisz

    Average rating

    4.63

  4. Squad number1Player nameTobiasz

    Average rating

    4.58

  5. Squad number28Player nameGual

    Average rating

    4.58

  6. Squad number55Player nameJedrzejczyk

    Average rating

    4.53

  7. Squad number27Player nameJosué

    Average rating

    4.52

  8. Squad number22Player nameElitim

    Average rating

    4.49

  9. Squad number3Player nameKapuadi

    Average rating

    4.35

  10. Squad number33Player nameKun

    Average rating

    4.35

  11. Squad number17Player nameGil Dias

    Average rating

    4.32

  12. Squad number12Player namePankov

    Average rating

    4.31

  13. Squad number9Player nameKramer

    Average rating

    4.12

  14. Squad number67Player nameKapustka

    Average rating

    3.58

  15. Squad number21Player nameÇelhaka

    Average rating

    3.43

  16. Squad number39Player nameRosolek

    Average rating

    3.18

Line-ups

Aston Villa

Formation 4-4-2

  • 25Olsen
  • 2Cash
  • 4Konsa
  • 17Lenglet
  • 15MorenoSubstituted forDigneat 79'minutes
  • 8TielemansBooked at 53minsSubstituted forJ Ramseyat 71'minutes
  • 44Kamara
  • 6Douglas LuizBooked at 41minsSubstituted forDendonckerat 90'minutes
  • 7McGinnSubstituted forBaileyat 71'minutes
  • 19DiabyBooked at 36minsSubstituted forZanioloat 79'minutes
  • 24DuránBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 1E Martínez
  • 3Diego Carlos
  • 12Digne
  • 14P Torres
  • 16Chambers
  • 22Zaniolo
  • 31Bailey
  • 32Dendoncker
  • 41J Ramsey
  • 42Marschall

Legia Warsaw

Formation 3-4-3

  • 1Tobiasz
  • 12Pankov
  • 55JedrzejczykBooked at 75mins
  • 3Kapuadi
  • 13WszolekBooked at 41minsSubstituted forRosolekat 83'minutes
  • 99SliszSubstituted forÇelhakaat 76'minutes
  • 22Elitim
  • 17Bastião DiasSubstituted forKunat 55'minutes
  • 27Soares PesqueiraSubstituted forKapustkaat 76'minutes
  • 28GualBooked at 39minsSubstituted forKramerat 55'minutesBooked at 68mins
  • 20Muçi

Substitutes

  • 4Burch
  • 5Ribeiro
  • 7Pekhart
  • 8Augustyniak
  • 9Kramer
  • 21Çelhaka
  • 26Rejczyk
  • 30Hladun
  • 33Kun
  • 39Rosolek
  • 67Kapustka
  • 86Strzalek
Referee:
Marco Di Bello

Match Stats

Live Text

Match ends, Aston Villa 2, Legia Warsaw 1.

Second Half ends, Aston Villa 2, Legia Warsaw 1.


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