Unai Emery impressed by Aston Villa maturity after late winner at Middlesbrough

By Sports Desk January 06, 2024

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery hailed his side’s mentality as they beat Middlesbrough 1-0 in their third-round FA Cup clash at the Riverside.

The Premier League high-flyers reached the fourth round thanks to Matty Cash’s deflected winner in the 87th minute.

Villa had chances in the first half from Jhon Duran and Leander Dendoncker before threatening in the first 15 minutes of the second half as John McGinn, Ezri Konsa and Alex Moreno all came close from a succession of corners.

Cash eventually sent them through to the next round from a short corner in the final stages and Emery praised the maturity in his team to push for the winner.

“We played big passions, being mature, I think we are growing up our mentality in matches like that,” Emery said.

“At the beginning we were favourite to win, but difficult to face each match.

“They prepared and tactically they played a very good match and even when they were keeping more possession on the transition they threatened us.

“We were always in control of the game and even the 15 minute, 20 minutes in the second half they were in that moment in control of the game better than us, after we had the three chances in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

“We were being passionate and trying to keep in our mind our gameplan and after that moment we reacted again, we pushed in the last minute because we took two or three chances and we scored one of them.”

Villa were dumped out of the FA Cup by Stevenage in the third round last season, and Emery revealed his side had spoken about their history of the competition ahead of the Boro clash.

“We were speaking before the match about the FA Cup, a very historic cup competition, maybe the best cup competition in the world,” Emery added.

“We’re speaking about our players, how much they were successful in this competition – not a lot! Only Emiliano (Martinez) and Calum Chambers won with Arsenal.

“A long time Aston Villa was successful in this competition with seven titles.

“Of course we are here trying to do another step ahead in this club, trying to play facing different competition and trying to be contending to get something.”

Carabao Cup semi-finalists Middlesbrough missed out on another cup run, but still had their opportunities in the game as Alex Bangura created some good chances and Morgan Rogers tested Martinez.

Cash’s late strike came as a cruel blow to Michael Carrick’s side, who had defended well throughout, but the Boro boss was “so proud” of their performance.

He said: “I thought the whole game, to be honest, was good. Really happy with them at half-time.

“They had a little bit more of the game in some ways second half, but I thought in general in the circumstances against the team we were playing against, I thought they were fantastic, the lads, I’m so proud of them.

“Tactically they were spot on in terms of their discipline, concentration, we played some good football at times to play that pressure and we probably had more opportunities to create chances than actually the chances themselves but we definitely looked dangerous enough in the game.

“Disappointed not to get anything from it really.”

Related items

  • Hungary forward Varga undergoes successful surgery after worrying injury Hungary forward Varga undergoes successful surgery after worrying injury

    Barnabas Varga has undergone successful surgery and will leave hospital on Wednesday, after suffering a facial fracture during Hungary's dramatic 1-0 win over Scotland at Euro 2024.

    The forward required urgent medical attention after colliding with Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn in the 68th minute of the crucial Group A encounter in Munich on Sunday.

    There was a lengthy stoppage in play, with Varga's team-mates forming a protective wall around him for privacy during treatment.

    The 29-year-old left the field on a stretcher and was taken to hospital, but was in a stable condition before his surgery.

    A statement from the Hungarian Football Federation read: "According to the information of the institution's doctors specialising in facial injuries, the intervention was uncomplicated, so the attacker can leave the hospital on Wednesday."

    Varga's wife Laura Skrapits also shared a picture on Instagram, accompanied by the message: "Thank you for the kind, supportive messages. Barni is over the surgery. A little rest awaits him, but everything will be fine."

    Kevin Csoboth's 100th-minute strike secured third place for Hungary in Group A, boosting their chances of progressing to the knockout stages.

    The team dedicated their victory to Varga, holding aloft his number 19 jersey as they saluted their supporters.

  • Euro 2024 social round-up: Football, eh? Italy snatch a last-16 place and England debate rolls on Euro 2024 social round-up: Football, eh? Italy snatch a last-16 place and England debate rolls on

    Gary Lineker has been at the centre of something of a storm when it comes to England at Euro 2024, and that story was plastered over social media on Monday.

    Then, the football took control, with Spain keeping up their winning run and Italy salvaging a draw against Croatia to claim a spot in the last 16.

    Here, we unpack the best of the day's social media clips from the tournament in Germany.

     

    Football, eh?

    Football... It's crazy! 

    With a minute to go, Italy - the holders - were on the brink of a possible exit, with Croatia leading 1-0 in Leipzig.

    Yet within 30 seconds, Mattia Zaccagni's maiden Azzurri goal had sent Italy through into the last 16, and it's Croatia who are on the verge of an early departure.

    Lineker responds

    There was a lot left to be desired following England's performance in their 1-1 draw with Denmark, but it is the post-match criticism that has since drawn the most attention.

    In particular, Lineker's comments were brought to the attention of Harry Kane in a recent press conference, with the England captain urging the pundits to support the squad.

    With the ball back in Lineker's court, he - along with fellow pundit Alan Shearer - had his say on the ongoing debate.

    Ferdinand chips into pundit debate

    Rio Ferdinand has done his fair share of punditry, and the former England defender had his say on the Lineker debate.

    Ferdinand said the England players shouldn't expect pundits to act as "cheerleaders" when the team aren't performing.

    Strike a pose

    With qualification for the knockout stages already complete, Portugal do not have to worry about any pressure going into their final match against Georgia.

    And while taking some time off during training, Joao Felix decided to try his hand at something a little different.

    We may even see some of his photos popping up on Portugal's official X account in the coming days.

    A family affair

    Among the travelling Spanish fans are a family of nine, who have made a 2000km journey to watch their nation at the tournament.

    After finally reaching their destination, they got to meet Ferran Torres, Marc Cucurella and Dani Vivian.

    Torres subsequently starred for Spain as La Roja stayed perfect in Group B by beating Albania, with the Barcelona forward scoring the only goal of the game.

    French cuisine 

    Ever wondered what an international footballer does at lunchtime?

    Well, fortunately for you, the French team allowed their social admins into the inner sanctum.

    Scholes backs Mainoo for big things

    More punditry relating to England, and this time it was Paul Scholes who had his say.

    Scholes thinks Kobbie Mainoo, who has had an impressive season with Manchester United, could be the player to pull the strings in midfield for the Three Lions.

    Vertonghen sees into the future

    Jan Vertonghen is playing in his sixth major tournament for Belgium, and his third Euros.

    Sitting down at Belgium's 'The Basecamp', the veteran defender was given a glimpse of what he will look like if he chooses to forgo retirement and keep playing with the help of AI.

    While Vertonghen was seemingly happy with the results, Maxim De Cuyper was not so impressed.

    The grind never stops

    Cristiano Ronaldo will make his 50th appearance at a major tournament the next time he features at Euro 2024.

    And even though Portugal are already through, the work on the training field never stops for the 39-year-old...

  • Croatia 1-1 Italy: Modric makes Euros history but last-gasp stunner sends Azzurri through Croatia 1-1 Italy: Modric makes Euros history but last-gasp stunner sends Azzurri through

    Luka Modric's history-making goal for Croatia proved fruitless as Mattia Zaccagni's last-gasp screamer sent Italy through into the last 16 of Euro 2024 after a 1-1 draw.

    Modric became the oldest player to score at the Euros when he slammed in from close range in the 55th minute - just 33 seconds after missing a penalty - and Croatia seemed all set to progress in second place from Group B, but Italy substitute Zaccagni had other ideas.

    With a sumptuous side-footed finish deep into the final throngs of stoppage time, Zaccagni claimed a point for the Azzurri, ensuring the holders will face Switzerland in the round of 16 on Saturday.

    Croatia, on the other hand, with just two points from their three matches, seem destined to miss out on one of the best third-placed finishes.

    Zlatko Dalic's team completed 329 passes in the first half – only against Scotland in June 2021 (337) have they completed more passes in a half at the Euros – but bar Luka Sucic's fizzing effort, they hardly tested Gianluigi Donnarumma.

    Indeed, Dominik Livakovic was the busier of the two goalkeepers, and he had to be at his best to deny Alessandro Bastoni an opener.

    Yet, the pace swiftly picked up in a frantic couple of minutes after the break, when Italy substitute Davide Frattesi was penalised for handball following a VAR review.

    After seeing his penalty saved by Donnarumma, Modric stayed alive to lash home on the rebound when a cross was worked back into the area, with Italy's goalkeeper having excellently denied Ante Budimir.

    Bastoni should have restored parity just after the hour, only for the defender to head over after meeting a corner unmarked.

    Gianluca Scamacca failed to meet Federico Chiesa's teasing cross as Croatia looked all set to head through, but there was to be one last twist.

    Having come on in the 81st minute, Zaccagni showed great composure to produce a piece of magic and send the holders through.

    A fond farewell?

    That might well be it for Modric, not just at the European Championship but at major tournaments as a whole. If it is the way he goes out, after his 16th appearance at the Euros, then he has done himself proud.

    At 38, he made history, etching his name into the Euros record books. 

    By the time he left the pitch in the 80th minute, Modric had played a team-leading 23 passes into the final third and won possession on six occasions, another team-high. 

    He looked distraught at the end, and at 38, surely that is the end for him at the European Championships, and maybe even major tournament football?

    Donnarumma pulls through

    Donnarumma was the star of the show for Italy at Wembley three years ago, with his saves in the shootout win over England.

    The three seasons that have followed have not been the best for the former Milan goalkeeper, who has made some high-profile errors for Paris Saint-Germain.

    Yet, he was on excellent form in Leipzig, making that exceptional penalty save and then an even more impressive stop to thwart Budimir, only to see Modric pick up the pieces when no defender reacted.

    Having become the youngest goalkeeper to play 10 matches at the Euros in the history of the competition (aged 25 years and 120 days), Donnarumma did not deserve to be on the losing side, and Zaccagni's moment of brilliance ensured that was not to be the case.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.