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Emery pleased to see Villans top group with point in Mostar
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Gavin Glicksman
Unai Emery was all smiles after Aston Villa sealed their spot in the last 16
Unai Emery was all smiles after Aston Villa sealed their spot in the last 16

Unai Emery saluted a job well done after Aston Villa secured top spot in Group E to seal their spot in the last 16 of the Europa Conference League.

The Villans had to settle for a 1-1 draw at the Stadion Bijeli Brijeg when Zrinjski Mostar's Matija Malekinusic cancelled out Nicolo Zaniolo's 61st-minute opener three minutes from time.

But Emery, 52, was pleased with how his side negotiated the evening to finish a point ahead of second-placed Legia Warszawa. 

He said: "We are happy because our objective was to be first in the group. And with this draw, we are. 

"We tried to play with some players who are not playing regularly in the season because of injuries, like Jacob Ramsey and Alex Moreno, and with Leander Dendoncker, Filip Marschall and Tommi O'Reilly as well. 

"It's important for them to get confidence and minutes. Tonight was perfect with the draw and result and perfect to give some of the players chances."

After overcoming Hibernian in the play-off round, Villa's first European campaign in 13 years began with a defeat to Legia Warszawa.

But Villa bounced back to finish the group stage with four wins, one draw and one loss. 

Emery added: "We wanted to win but our first objective is completely done... to be first in the group. 

"We want to enjoy the way in this competition because for us to be in Europe it's important to remember how we achieved it and how we are now trying to win a trophy.

"We want to enjoy it with our supporters and some supporters were here with us today. 

"It's important for them to be together and enjoy this way in Europe."


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