Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery said mission accomplished as his team advanced to the European Conference League group stage with an 8-0 aggregate victory over Hibernian.
Villa were 5-0 up from a resounding victory in Edinburgh last week and completed the second leg when first-half goals from John Duran and Leon Bailey obscured them from view.
Substitute Matty Cash scored a 3-0 win on the night Villa hosted European football for the first time since 2010 and they are now waiting for Friday’s group stage draw in Monaco to see who they will face.
Unai Emery: “It’s very important for me to be in Europe, both for the club and for the fans.” pic.twitter.com/XGUnQs10ep
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) August 31, 2023
Four-time Europa League winner Emery said: “Yes, of course (I’m happy). We finished it tonight.
“We needed to reach the group stage and we should be happy and enjoy it together with our fans.
“Today the stadium was full and it was fantastic to finish and qualify. I am very happy because I really enjoy playing in Europe and I want to enjoy it now at Aston Villa.
The Spaniard expects Villa to complete Clement Lenglet’s loan deal before the transfer window closes on Friday.
“He is not yet fully signed but is close to signing with us,” Emery said.
“He is a player who can help us. With Tyrone Mings injured, he could replace him in the squad.”
Emery said it was “possible” that Philippe Coutinho would be able to leave Villa Park on time and added: “I am very pleased with our team.
“The club has made great efforts to complete our squad. There’s only one more day left and we’ll be ready.”
The Hibs are going through a difficult period since the sacking of manager Lee Johnson on Sunday after a home loss to Livingston that left them bottom of the standings without points.
In both matches against Villa, they were losing for a long time, but a rowdy 2,200 traveling supporters gave them an enthusiastic send-off, with interim coach David Gray saying he was proud of them and his players.
Hear David Gray’s words after today’s UEFA Europa League exit at Villa Park… pic.twitter.com/wQbhGBmxln
— Hibernian Football Club (@HibernianFC) August 31, 2023
Former Hibs quarterback Grey, appointed caretaker for the third time since Johnson’s departure, said: “I’m proud of the players.
“They have worked to the very end under the difficult circumstances at the football club at the moment but I cannot fault the players for their effort and dedication.
“When you play against this level of opponent, if you switch off for a split second or make a small mistake, you will be punished. It’s a top team with fantastic players.”
Speaking of the impressive Hibs fans, Gray added: “I’ve been with the club for almost 10 years and they have always been fantastic.
“You say there were 2000, I’m sure there were many more. As always, fantastic support.”