Unai Emery unveils Aston Villa's next 'objective' after Europa Conference League exit

Unai Emery, manager of Aston Villa, issues instructions to Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa during the UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24 Semi-Final first leg match between Aston Villa and Olympiacos FC at Villa Park on May 02, 2024 in Birmingham, England.

Unai Emery is disappointed with Aston Villa’s exit from the UEFA Europa Conference League but the focus is already on the next objective.

The head coach was frustrated with his side’s lack of clinical nature to get back into the two-legged affair with Olympiacos at the semi-final stage but the damage was done in the first leg. Defeated 4-2 by the Greek giants at Villa Park last week, it was always going to be an onerous task to overturn the deficit at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium.

What was disheartening, however, was the fact Olympiacos won yet again, and fairly comfortably. Villa dominated possession but rarely surpassed the hosts’ low block and were susceptible to counter-attacks. Those factors proved costly as Ayoub El Kaabi, the hat-trick scorer from the first leg, netted another two to lead his team to a 2-0 win on the night and a 6-2 aggregate victory.

Albeit understandably frustrated and deflated by the exit at the last hurdle before the final, Emery was keen to find the positives post-match. "I am thankful for our supporters and our fans. We have got to the semi-final. It is not enough and we lost today but we are in a process, these are experiences for us,” Emery told TNT Sports.

“We are going to compete in Europe again next year, we have the challenge - a difficult challenge - to get to the Champions League. We are disappointed and a little frustrated but these are experiences. We lost control of the emotions and they were clinical, then they competed very well.

“Firstly we will come back to Birmingham and then we will focus on the match against Liverpool. My message is clear – we move on and we have to finish the season with the last objective to achieve,” Emery continued.

The match alluded to is a vital one as Villa welcome the Reds for Jürgen Klopp’s last-ever Premier League away fixture. Not only is it a momentous occasion for the opposition boss, but Villa can complete their ‘objective’ with a victory.

It could even be achieved before the game even kicks off if Tottenham Hotspur fail to beat Burnley on Saturday. Ange Postecoglou’s side are seven points behind with three games remaining. Villa, meanwhile, have two matches left to secure their top-four status.

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