Aston Villa 2-1 Legia Warsaw: Away fans denied entry after violent clashes with police

Many had expected to experience a fiery atmosphere within Villa Park on Thursday, as Aston Villa welcomed Legia Warsawa. That wouldn’t be the case though, with all away fans denied entry after violent clashes with police in the streets ahead of kick-off.

But off-pitch troubles wouldn’t have too much of a consequence on the field, with Unai Emery’s side having already sealed their qualification as a result of AZ Alkmaar’s win earlier in the evening.

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AVL: Olsen; Moreno, Lenglet, Konsa, Cash; McGinn, Luiz, Kamara, Tielemans; Duran, Diaby

LEG: Tobiasz; Kapuadi, Jędrzejczyk, Pankov; Dias, Elitim, Slisz, Wszolek; Muci, Gual, Josué

A bizarre atmosphere presented itself given the events of the early evening, but Moussa Diaby was quick to assert Aston Villa’s dominance with a strike in the fourth minute that left their Polish visitors stunned.

But if Legia Warsawa were affected by the lack of their vocal away support, they certainly didn’t let it show. Ernest Muci restored parity in the 20th minute, and the hosts were unable to find a response before the referee signalled the half-time interval.

Just before the hour mark, Alex Moreno would prove himself as an unlikely hero. Returning from a six-month injury-enforced absence, the Spaniard turned home a Douglas Luiz free-kick from close range – and Legia weren’t able to level the match again.

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Aston Villa will seek to top their UEFA Europa Conference League group when they return to the continent next time out, with a point at Zrinjski Mostar enough to guarantee automatic qualification. Alternatively, they will have to face an opponent dropping down from the UEFA Europa League in a playoff.