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regular-article-logo Friday, 24 May 2024

Europa Conference League: Aston Villa goalkeeper Martinez avoids red card, saves penalties 

A chaotic match ended 3-3 on aggregate after Lille's 2-1 victory on the night but the real drama was to come in the shoot-out with World Cup winner Martinez in the thick of it

Reuters Lille Published 20.04.24, 11:06 AM
Emiliano Martinez

Emiliano Martinez File image

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved two spot kicks and survived a bizarre red card incident as his side beat French club Lille on penalties to reach the Europa Conference League semi-finals on Thursday.

A chaotic match ended 3-3 on aggregate after Lille's 2-1 victory on the night but the real drama was to come in the shoot-out with World Cup winner Martinez in the thick of it.

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Martinez, who was shown a yellow card during the game for time wasting, first saved brilliantly to keep out Nabil Bentaleb's effort to give Villa the advantage in the shoot-out but was warned for his persistent mind games and reactions towards the French fans in the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

The Argentine was then shown a second yellow card for his antics and appeared to have been sent off only to be reprieved by the rule which states that yellow cards awarded during regular time are not carried forward to penalty shoot-outs.

Villa's Leon Bailey then missed his spot kick but Martinez proved the hero as he kept out Benjamin Andre's effort to seal a 4-3 shoot-out win for Unai Emery's side.

Martinez raced the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the ecstatic away fans.

"He is very important for us. He has his personality and his personality in the dressing room is very important because he is a leader with his experiences," Emery said.

"He has a really brilliant mentality. And then on the pitch he has his personality and he played fantastic."

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