Ollie Watkins secures late victory for Aston Villa with a 2-1 win over AZ Alkmaar in Europa Conference League

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Ollie Watkins has scored 11 goals in 19 appearances for Aston Villa and England this season

Aston Villa all but sealed qualification to the Europa Conference League knockout stages as Ollie Watkins’ late winner helped his side come from behind to beat AZ Alkmaar at Villa Park.

Watkins raced on to Douglas Luiz’s chipped pass to nod Villa in front in the 81st minute.

Vangelis Pavlidis had scored AZ Alkmaar’s opener early in the second half, latching on to a ball over the top and dinking a finish over Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez.

Diego Carlos equalised for Villa nine minutes later when he rose highest to meet Leon Bailey’s corner and nod in his first goal for the club.

The result means Villa need just one more point from their final two matches to reach the knockout stages of the Conference League.

They remain second in the group, six points above Zrinjski Mostar, who are ahead of AZ on goal difference.

“The reaction after we conceded was fantastic,” said Aston Villa manager Unai Emery.

“We have to be strong and take experiences like tonight to know how to win in Europe against really good teams.”

Villa on course but fortunate with equaliser

This season’s Conference League offers a good opportunity for Villa to win a first major trophy since lifting the EFL Cup in 1996.

Emery’s side were committed from the off, starting brilliantly as Clement Lenglet headed them in front inside three minutes, only for the video assistant referee to rule the goal out for offside in the build-up.

Youri Tielemans also had a fine first-half shot tipped round the post by AZ goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

But the visitors soon grew into the match and had a goal of their own ruled out for offside when Pavlidis tapped in Sven Mijnans’ cross just before the break.

AZ, second in the Dutch Eredivisie, took the lead through Pavlidis after the restart but Villa, buoyed by their home support, played their best football after falling behind.

Midfielder Boubacar Kamara diverted an effort over from four yards out midway through the second period, with the referee mistakenly awarding Villa a corner and Carlos subsequently heading in the equaliser.

Villa continued to push for the winner and Watkins, named in the England squad earlier on Thursday, deservedly completed the comeback.

Emery accepted his side were fortunate with their equaliser, adding: “It was a very good chance for Kamara, it was fantastic, but it was not a corner, it’s clear, and after this mistake we score.

“I’m very happy because when we are winning a game like this we can understand this competition better and the processes we’re trying to build.

“I’m very proud of our work in this competition. We’re getting better.”

The three points represent just the response Emery would have been looking for after his side’s defeat by Nottingham Forest at the weekend, their first loss in six matches.

Villa can now seal a spot in the Conference League knockouts in their next match in the competition at home to Legia Warsaw on 30 November.

Player of the match

McGinnJohn McGinn

Aston Villa

  1. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

  2. Squad number8Player nameTielemans

  3. Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz

  4. Squad number11Player nameWatkins

  5. Squad number2Player nameCash

  6. Squad number3Player nameDiego Carlos

  7. Squad number14Player nameP Torres

  8. Squad number12Player nameDigne

  9. Squad number19Player nameDiaby

  10. Squad number31Player nameBailey

  11. Squad number4Player nameKonsa

  12. Squad number9Player nameTraoré

  13. Squad number1Player nameE Martínez

  14. Squad number44Player nameKamara

  15. Squad number22Player nameZaniolo

  16. Squad number17Player nameLenglet

AZ Alkmaar

  1. Squad number9Player namePavlidis

  2. Squad number25Player nameBazoer

  3. Squad number11Player nameSadiq

  4. Squad number14Player nameMihailovic

  5. Squad number21Player namePoku

  6. Squad number2Player nameSugawara

  7. Squad number18Player nameMøller Wolfe

  8. Squad number16Player nameMijnans

  9. Squad number4Player nameMartins Indi

  10. Squad number1Player nameRyan

  11. Squad number8Player nameClasie

  12. Squad number19Player namevan Brederode

  13. Squad number15Player namevan Bommel

  14. Squad number10Player namede Wit

  15. Squad number7Player nameOdgaard

  16. Squad number6Player nameTiago Dantas


Aston Villa

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1E Martínez
  • 4KonsaSubstituted forCashat 74′minutes
  • 3Diego CarlosSubstituted forP Torresat 90′minutes
  • 17Lenglet
  • 12Digne
  • 8TielemansSubstituted forDouglas Luizat 74′minutes
  • 44Kamara
  • 31BaileySubstituted forTraoréat 90′minutes
  • 19DiabySubstituted forZanioloat 74′minutes
  • 7McGinn
  • 11Watkins


  • 2Cash
  • 6Douglas Luiz
  • 9Traoré
  • 14P Torres
  • 15Moreno
  • 16Chambers
  • 22Zaniolo
  • 24Durán
  • 25Olsen
  • 32Dendoncker
  • 42Marschall

AZ Alkmaar

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Ryan
  • 2Sugawara
  • 25Bazoer
  • 4Martins Indi
  • 18Møller Wolfe
  • 8ClasieSubstituted forOliveira Dantasat 88′minutes
  • 10de WitSubstituted forMihailovicat 69′minutes
  • 16MijnansSubstituted forOdgaardat 88′minutes
  • 11SadiqSubstituted forPokuat 69′minutes
  • 9Pavlidis
  • 15van BommelSubstituted forvan Brederodeat 69′minutes


  • 5Penetra Correia
  • 6Oliveira Dantas
  • 7Odgaard
  • 12Verhulst
  • 14Mihailovic
  • 19van Brederode
  • 21Poku
  • 22Dekker
  • 28Goudmijn
  • 30Kasius
  • 31Deen
  • 33Goes

Luís Miguel Branco Godinho

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