Irish Daily Star



COMETH the hour, cometh the man for a penalty shootout — Emi Martinez was at it again last night.

The Argentine No.1 — who establishe­d himself as the go-to guy during his country’s World Cup win 16 months ago — dipped once more into his book of the dark arts to ensure Aston Villa emerged triumphant.

He saved two spotkicks to send Unai Emery’s side through to the semi-final but that told only half the story as there was enough drama in the shootout to fill these pages.

This tie had see-sawed from one side to the other but it was only when penalties began that the drama was ramped up a notch.

There was plenty of action as Paulo Fonseca’s side edged in front thanks to goals in each half by Yusuf Yazici and Benjamin Andre against a below-par Villa who had a singlegoal lead wiped out.


But Matty Cash struck a deflected drive with three minutes to go, ensuring the additional half-hour. That 30 minutes finished without a decisive goal.

And then it was the Martinez show.

He had been booked with little more than half-an-hour played for time-wasting by referee Ivan Kruzliak who quickly clamped down on his gamesmansh­ip.

And he baited a crowd who had jeered him relentless­ly for his behaviour against Les Bleus in the Doha final — by racing to get the ball ahead of Lille’s first penalty-taker, Nabil Bentaleb.

By this stage, the home crowd was riled anyway after Youri Tielemans had given Villa the lead in the shootout.

But this was only the beginning.

Martinez saved from the former Spurs man.


He performed a little dance before the ultras packed in the stands behind him — many of whom were bare-chested. He was chastised for that by match official Kruzliak but he then walked away and continued gesturing to the crowd.

That was one action too many for the ref, who produced a yellow card.

With many of the crowd wondering if Villa were going to progress through the shootout without a keeper or with one from the bench, the Slovak explained to Lille’s frustrated players that bookings handed out during the game are wiped clear if the tie goes to penalties.

Leon Bailey’s spotkick was saved by Lucas Chevalier, levelling it up at 3-3.

Douglas Luiz added to Villa’s tally leaving home skipper Andre to step up to keep his team in it.

Martinez guessed correctly, diving to his left — and sparking scenes of wild jubilation from the 2,600 travelling supporters as well as howls of protest from the hosts.

LILLE: Chevalier 6; T Santos 7,Yoro 7, Diakite 7, Ismaily 6; Bentaleb 7, Andre 8;Yazici 7, (Cavaleiro 86) Gudmundsso­n 6, (Cabella 91) Haraldsson 6; (Gomes 76) David 5 ASTON VILLA: Martinez 8; Cash 6, Konsa 7,Torres 6, Digne 5; Luiz 6, McGinn 5 (Duran 80),Tielemans 6, Zaniolo 5 (Rogers 29, 6); Diaby 4 (Bailey 68, 6); Watkins 6 REF: Ivan Kruzliak

 ?? ?? ■ ASTONISHIN­G: Villa celebrate; (below) Ollie Watkins
■ ASTONISHIN­G: Villa celebrate; (below) Ollie Watkins
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