Villa complete their two-legged win over Hibernian as Dave Woodhall watches.
Villa eased into the group stages of the Conference League with the minimum of fuss. With Unai Emery you’d expect nothing less. The team he picked was more orthodox than the full-strength selection that killed off this tie in the first leg, a mix of first-teamers, squad players and a couple of youngsters getting their chance. It was the sort of team that usually gets chosen for early rounds cup games and the manager’s plans were vindicated with a straightforward display that showed youthful promise and no injuries.
Seb Revan and Omari Kelleyman made their first senior starts; Revan has been around for a few years while Kelleyman went on the summer tour of America and continued the promise he showed there with an assured display on Villa Park’s first European night since he was in the infants.
Five goals up from the first leg, Villa were always in control and took barely ten minutes to get the sixth, Pau Torres laying off an inch-perfect ball for Jhon Duran to run onto. Duran might have looked a bit unsure when he first arrived, but equally he seems to be improving now with every appearance. He’s got two goals already this season and we might not be as light up front as it seemed a couple of weeks ago. On 34 minutes Leon Bailey, another player who’s showing much improved form this season, got Villa’s second after good work from Kelleyman.
Emery made his first couple of changes at half-time, with Matty Cash and Diego Carlos replacing Ezri Konsa and Boubacar Kamara. Villa continued to control the game without taking unnecessary risks, a long-range free-kick being spilled by the Hibs keeper for the Polish Marco van Basten to get his third goal in two games.
When you’re eight down it might be a relief to see players of the quality of Douglas Luiz and Pau Torres leaving the pitch. It’s not much of a consolation to see them replaced by Ollie Watkins and Diego Carlos. Watkins and McGinn had chances well-saved by a Hibs defence who hadn’t given up and to continue with the patronising, their supporters who had come down from Edinburgh made plenty of noise throughout the game.
The rain started up again as the match took on the tempo of a pre-season friendly and eight minutes of added time saw no further goals. Eight-nil isn’t a bad way of returning to Europe and no added injuries was a bonus. Villa keep turning over lesser opposition and as we keep saying, you can only beat what’s in front of you. We’ve also seen Villa struggling in cup ties often enough to be grateful that this one was so easy. Duran and Kelleyman deserved the credit for their performances but everyone played their part, and the oft-maligned Robin Olsen made a couple of saves to help keep a clean sheet.
There will be plenty of glamourous European nights before long. This might not have been one of them but Villa dealt with it as professionally as could have been hoped. Bring on the next stage.