Jean-Philippe Mateta is "finishing everything that comes to him", according to his Crystal Palace team-mate Eberechi Eze.

Palace thumped fourth-placed Aston Villa 5-0 at home on the last day of the Premier League season to seal an unlikely top-10 finish, with Mateta scoring a hat-trick and Eze adding two goals of his own.

They ended the season with a seven-match unbeaten run under Oliver Glasner, who made a huge impact after replacing Roy Hodgson in February.

Mateta has been a huge beneficiary, as since Glasner's first game in charge on February 24, he has scored 13 Premier League goals, which is more than any other player in the competition.

He ended the campaign with 16 top-flight goals, putting him level with the likes of Bukayo Saka and Jarrod Bowen in the scoring charts. Only Andrew Johnson has netted more for the Eagles across a single campaign in the competition, when he netted 21 in 2004-05.

"He is what I'm playing for," Eze said about Mateta, per Palace's official website.

"He is finishing everything that comes to him, which makes our life a lot easier when I'm playing for him, so it's good.

"I did come close [to a hat-trick myself], but the most important thing is putting in good performances. We're all going to flourish, we're all going to have games where we score.

"We're preparing the work and we're doing the work before we go on to the pitch, so we're enjoying it, that's the main thing."

The match also saw Mateta become just the second Frenchman to score in seven home Premier League home appearances in a row, after Thierry Henry for Arsenal between May and October 2004.

Eze has also finished the season with a flourish, ending the campaign with 11 goals and four assists.

Mateta is among those who have called for him to earn a place in the England squad for Euro 2024.

"Of course it's an honour [to play for your country]," said Eze. "It would be a great experience.

"I think it is a dream for any player to play in any big tournament. But the main thing, I'm being realistic. It is what it is: if I get a call, I get a call.

"But the main thing is doing what I need to do for my club, and that's the performance."

Villa are the first side to concede five or more goals in their first and final matches of a top-flight season since Manchester City in 1962-63, having been beaten 5-1 at Newcastle on the opening weekend.

But they were magnificent in between those two losses, enjoying a campaign to remember as they qualified for the Champions League, confounding pre-season expectations.

"Thank you to our supporters because even today they were with us," said Villa boss Unai Emery after Sunday's loss.

"We achieved our objective on Tuesday [when UCL qualification was confirmed] and we did everything we could with our supporters in Villa Park on Monday [in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool].

"They were travelling here to be with us, supporting us so we are disappointed with the result, but we have to accept it.

"We have to be happy and share with our supporters the whole season, not just today. Every match is very important and we lost, but we’d achieved our target.

"We have to accept it and keep going forward. Now it’s time to rest and try to follow our players with their national teams and prepare as best as possible the next season.

"We have to enjoy the season we did and we’re very excited for the next season, but we have to take our time now."

Erling Haaland has won the Premier League Golden Boot for a second straight season.

Manchester City striker Haaland finished with 27 goals from 31 appearances this season, finishing five goals ahead of Chelsea attacking midfielder Cole Palmer, who emerged as a surprise contender after leaving the Etihad Stadium for Stamford Bridge ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.

Haaland scored a single-season record 36 goals in his debut year in England and while he did not match those numbers this time around, he ultimately prevailed with a comprehensive five-goal advantage over Palmer.

Newcastle striker Alexander Isak was in third place with 21 goals. There was a three-way tie for fourth place on 19 goals between Dominic Solanke, Phil Foden and Ollie Watkins.

Mohamed Salah (18 goals) and Son Heung-min (17) were also prominent high finishers, with Bukayo Saka and Jarrod Bowen joined on 16 by Jean-Philippe Mateta on the final day of the season when he netted a hat-trick in Crystal Palace's 5-0 win over Aston Villa.

While Haaland claims award glory, it was Foden (two) and Rodri who scored the goals as Man City beat West Ham 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to secure a historic fourth successive Premier League trophy.

But Haaland's goals had been crucial to getting City into a title-winning position.

The 23-year-old started the season with a bang, scoring eight goals in his first six top-flight appearances, including a hat-trick in the 5-1 win over Fulham in early September.

While he battled an injury and a brief mid-season dip in form, doubles against Manchester United and Chelsea kept the Norway forward in contention.

And Haaland ultimately pulled away from his Golden Boot rivals in the closing stages of the campaign.

The striker scored four times in the 5-1 home win over Wolves this month to all but end the contest even before his pivotal double against Tottenham on Tuesday put Man City on the brink of title glory.

Haaland matches the likes of Harry Kane, Salah and Robin van Persie as players to win the Golden Boot in consecutive seasons.

Thierry Henry has won the most Golden Boot crowns with four, while Kane, Salah and Premier League record goalscorer Alan Shearer all have three apiece, with Haaland now just one behind that group.

The Playmaker of the Season award for the most Premier League assists went to Aston Villa striker Watkins.

As well as scoring his 19 goals, Watkins racked up 13 assists in a fine individual season, helping Villa to Champions League qualification.

He is the first Aston Villa player to win the award since it began in the 2017-18 season.

Watkins finished two assists ahead of Palmer (11), who comes second in both awards, while Kevin De Bruyne was part of a large group in a tie for third with 10 assists.

Man City's De Bruyne is a three-time winner and came close to topping the creative standings again despite missing much of the season through injury.

The Golden Glove winner is Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya, who finished with a final tally of 16 clean sheets.

He is the Gunners’ first winner of the award since Petr Cech also kept 16 clean sheets for the Gunners in the 2015-16 season. Wojciech Szczęsny is another former Arsenal winner.

Everton keeper Jordan Pickford was second to Raya with 13 shutouts.

Those two shot-stoppers did battle on the final day, as Arsenal won 2-1 against Everton, but it was not enough to stop the celebrations for Haaland and City.

Jean-Philippe Mateta stole the show with a hat-trick as Crystal Palace ended the Premier League season unbeaten in seven straight games after a 5-0 hammering of Aston Villa at Selhurst Park.

Palace manager Oliver Glasner replaced Roy Hodgson in February and has made an immediate impression on the Eagles, with promising signs awaiting his first full season in England next term.

Mateta has been one of many Palace players to enjoy an upturn in form since Glasner's arrival, with the in-form striker's deadly first-half double paving the way for an impressive victory on Sunday.

Frenchman Mateta completed his hat-trick with a well-taken finish in the second half, in between a pair of eye-catching Eberechi Eze goals, as Palace's dominant triumph saw them finish 10th in the table.

This final-day defeat will not dampen the mood too much for Unai Emery's fourth-placed Villa, who head into next season with UEFA Champions League football awaiting.

Selhurst Park erupted after just nine minutes when Michael Olise slipped a delicate pass into the area for Mateta, who blasted a left-footed effort past the helpless Robin Olsen.

Villa responded with a barrage on Palace's goal, but Dean Henderson denied a well-struck Moussa Diaby volley before Marc Guehi cleared Ollie Watkins' looping header on the line.

Glasner's Eagles struck another decisive blow six minutes before the interval as Daniel Munoz swept a low cross for Mateta to slam into the top-left corner from close range.

Olsen stopped Olise from making it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time, with his low curling attempt pushed away by the Villa goalkeeper, who replaced Emiliano Martinez for this final-day meeting.

Yet Olsen had no chance after 54 minutes as Eze danced inside from the left and powered into the bottom-left corner, before the Palace midfielder teed up Mateta to complete his treble with a well-taken finish from the right of goal nine minutes later.

Palace's in-form striker thought he had another to add to his tally moments later but a VAR review ruled the Frenchman offside after racing onto a long pass in behind.

Mateta responded to that VAR decision by setting up Eze to drive another brilliant attempt into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the area after 69 minutes and complete a dominant victory.

Palace excitement builds with Glasner

Prior to this game, Palace had won five of their last six Premier League games (D1), as many as they had in their previous 27 (D8 L14). 

The Eagles smashed Manchester United 4-0 and Wolves 3-1 in their last two games before this victory made it three Premier League wins in a row, while Palace scored 3+ goals in each triumph for the first time in their top-flight history.

Austrian Glasner's next challenge will be to keep up the improvements going into next season, with Palace – boasting quality in the likes of Eze, Mateta and Olise – capable of competing in the top half of the table.

Amazing Emery inspires Villa revival

Villa were only promoted back to the Premier League five years ago, after their Championship play-off final victory over Derby County, but will be preparing for Champions League football next term.

That remarkable rise to compete with Europe's elite can largely be apportioned to Emery, who was appointed in October 2022 after Steven Gerrard was dismissed with Villa struggling at the bottom half of the league table.

The Spaniard, a record four-time winner of the Europa League, has 35 wins in 63 games of his Premier League managerial career with Villa – a record he will hope to continue improving next season.

Unai Emery has his sights set on winning the Premier League or Champions League with Aston Villa after securing a top-four finish earlier this week.

Fifth-place Tottenham's defeat to title-chasing Manchester City on Tuesday meant Villa will play in Europe's premier club competition next season for the first time in 41 years.

Emery's side conclude a memorable season – in which they also reached the Europa Conference League semi-finals – away at Crystal Palace on the final day.

And the Spaniard is already focused on achieving bigger and better things with Villa. 

"It really was amazing when the [Tottenham-Manchester City] match finished," he smiled. "At the beginning of the season, it was really a dream. Of course, we worked hard to try to be there.

"I want to get better, and I have my dreams, and I believe in my dreams. Of course, my objectives are to win the Premier League or the Champions League. We are not contenders, but it is our dream to achieve something like that."

Meanwhile, Palace have enjoyed a strong finish to the season, winning five of their last six games.

The Eagles could seal a top-half finish with a victory – and other results going their way – and Oliver Glasner has urged his players to use that as inspiration at Selhurst Park.

"I'm pleased with the performances we've had," he said. "We want to win. We always focus on what we can influence. If we don't do our job, we don't win, we can't be 10th. It's good motivation at home to say thank you to the fans."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Crystal Palace – Jean-Philippe Mateta

Mateta has scored in each of his last six home Premier League appearances for Palace, netting eight goals along the way. 

He is now aiming to become only the second Frenchman after Thierry Henry to find the net in seven successive Premier League appearances on home soil.

Aston Villa – Ollie Watkins

Watkins has recorded the most assists in the Premier League this season with 13.

Only Ashley Young has ever provided more during a single Premier League campaign for Villa (14 in 2007-08).

MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

Palace are unbeaten on each of the previous 11 occasions they have finished a top-flight season with a home match (winning seven, drawing four).

By contrast, Villa have only won once in the 25 occasions they have finished a league campaign with an away game (drawn seven, lost 17).

That sole victory came against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2001-02.

On a brighter note, Villa are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League away games in London, winning five of their six this term. 

With 16 such points this season, a win or draw here would set a new Premier League record for the most achieved during a single campaign.

Although, you must go back to their title-winning season of 1980-81 for the last time they completed a league double over Palace.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Crystal Palace: 31.8%
Aston Villa: 39.5%
Draw: 28.7

Italy forward Nicolo Zaniolo will miss Euro 2024 after suffering a foot injury during Aston Villa's Premier League draw with Liverpool on Monday.

Zaniolo – who joined Unai Emery's side on a season-long loan from Galatasaray last August – came on as a second-half substitute as they fought back from 3-1 down to clinch a 3-3 draw at Villa Park.

That result moved Villa closer to securing Champions League qualification, which was confirmed when Tottenham lost 2-0 at home to Manchester City on Tuesday.

Zaniolo only lasted 14 minutes following his 65th-minute introduction before being withdrawn himself, though, and scans have shown he sustained a microfracture to his foot.

The 24-year-old has now confirmed he will be unable to feature in Italy's title defence at the Euros, with their Group B campaign set to begin against Albania on June 15.  

In a post to his Instagram account, Zaniolo wrote: "Thank you for your support in these hours, to you Villans and to the many Italian and Turkish fans. I can't wait to get back on the field stronger than before!

"Unfortunately, I will have to give up my dream of representing my country in a major competition. But that day will come, I'm sure, and it will be beautiful! Come on Azzurri!"

Zaniolo also missed Italy's triumphant run at the delayed Euro 2020 three years ago as he was recovering from a ruptured cruciate ligament.

Unai Emery says Aston Villa have achieved their dream after qualification for next season's Champions League was secured.

Tottenham's 2-0 defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday left Ange Postecoglou's fifth-place side five points behind Villa, who subsequently sealed a fourth-place finish with a game to spare.

More importantly, the Villans are back in UEFA's premier club competition for the first time since the 1982-83 season, when they suffered European Cup quarter-final elimination to Juventus.

Additionally, the club secured their highest top-flight finish since the 1995-96 campaign, which they also ended in fourth place.

Emery, whose side reached this season's Europa Conference League semi-finals, now has his sights set on Europe's top prize next season, in which he is demanding even more from his players.

"It's a very special day," the Spaniard told Villa's official media channels. "It was our dream when we started the season to be here. To play Champions League is, after the Premier League, the best.

"You can play in the Premier League against the best teams in the world, it's very difficult. When you are playing in the Champions League, you are playing against the best teams, at the same time, from other countries. And it's amazing.

"We know the history of Aston Villa is so long and so successful. Even in the Champions League, we knew the responsibility was to try to increase our level, try to be demanding and to dream.

"I want to enjoy more and, next year, the new challenge starts for us. To build a team again, and be strong to go and always increase our level; this is our objective."

Aston Villa will play in Europe's top continental competition for the first time in 41 years next season after qualifying for the Champions League.

Tottenham's 2-0 defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday sealed Villa's fourth-place finish in the Premier League.

Unai Emery's side have not played in UEFA's premier club competition since the 1982-83 season, when they suffered quarter-final elimination to Juventus in the European Cup.

Villa were knocked out of the Europa Conference League in the semi-finals this term by Olympiacos, but will now have their eyes on Europe's top prize in the Champions League next campaign.

Jurgen Klopp was lamented his side's late mistake as Liverpool gave up a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Aston Villa in the Premier League on Monday.

The Reds were on top after a quick start as Emiliano Martinez gifted them an opener inside the first 61 seconds. Though Youri Tielemans equalised for Villa, Cody Gakpo and Jarell Quansah put Liverpool back in control.

Jhon Duran scored twice late on, netting in the 85th and 88th minutes to deny Klopp’s side three points.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, the German admitted that though they could not see out the win, he was proud of his team’s performance.

He said: "It got away from us. We played really good football. We were really good, played a lot of good stuff and caused a lot of problems.

"Before we changed, we gave them too many chances. It was very intense for the boys. They created too much. They were too often in our box, and we made the changes. Then we made a mistake. It happens but in that moment, it opens the door.

"They scored an equaliser, and I don't even know how. The character from the boys tonight was outstanding in our situation. We wanted to win the game. In the moment, when we gave away the 3-2, that was really tricky. That's it, that's the story of the game."

It looked like Quansah’s goal would be the winner for much of the second half, with the young defender heading in his first goal for Liverpool.

"I've been waiting for that moment," he told the BBC. "I don't score too many goals, so when it goes in the back of the net you just saw the emotion come out I guess.

"I just tried to get the best contact on it as I could. I'm thankful it went in.

"The way the crowd celebrated was a surreal moment, definitely one I'll never forget."

Unai Emery has praised "special" Jhon Duran after his late brace secured Aston Villa a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool in the Premier League on Monday.

The Reds looked to be on their way to a 3-1 despite Youri Tielemans’ strike after Cody Gakpo and Jarell Quansah added to Emiliano Martinez’s early own goal.

However, Duran's 79th-minute introduction changed the game as the Colombian scored twice in three minutes to salvage a draw.

Villa needed a win to secure a Champions League spot, but a point keeps their fate in their own hands despite Tottenham having a game in hand against Manchester City on Tuesday.

Emery was full of praise for his forward, acknowledging how important his goals could be by Sunday.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: "Jhon Duran is a special player. We have to try and help him. He is a good guy, and he needs a team behind him. He is getting our demands better. He was very clinical and today was important for him.

"Today we are celebrating with our supporters, we have to push it and keep working and be consistent. We were consistent all the season. The team was being mature and always consistent in our mind. Inch by inch we did it.

"We are very proud of the season. It is not enough at the moment to get fourth. Even after we scored the two goals, we had chances. We are celebrating the season here with our supporters in Villa Park.

"We are only thinking of us. We will prepare for our match on Sunday, everything is in our hands."

Villa were on a three-game losing run going into the Liverpool contest, and John McGinn highlighted the team’s strong mentality to avoid another defeat.

"It's a brilliant effort towards the end. We got a bit of luck. It's been a tough few weeks with lads coming back and playing through the pain barrier. This place got us going," he told Sky Sports after the game.

"There's some of us that have never been close to the Champions League in our life. The manager has a no-excuse mentality. People have written us off and we've floated under the radar. We'll have our Man City tops on tomorrow.

"Big Jhon [Duran] is a bit nuts and is a nightmare to have in your team, but he's got quality. We need to keep his feet on the ground over the next couple of days."

Jhon Duran's dramatic late double earned Aston Villa a thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool at Villa Park, but the hosts will still have to wait before they can be sure of sealing a top-four Premier League finish.

Duran came off the bench to score in the 85th and 88th minutes to help Villa avoid what had looked set to be a fourth straight defeat in all competitions.

Emiliano Martinez's own goal gifted Liverpool the lead two minutes in on Monday and Cody Gakpo restored that advantage for the visitors after Youri Tielemans had Unai Emery’s side level.

It looked like Jarell Quansah's first goal for the Reds early in the second half had sealed the victory, but Duran’s late intervention ensured Villa emerged from the game with a valuable point.

Villa remain in fourth place, now five points clear of Tottenham, their rivals for a Champions League spot. Spurs have a game in hand but must beat title-chasing Manchester City on Tuesday to take the battle to the final day. Liverpool stay third on 79 points.

Emery’s men found themselves behind just 61 seconds into the game with a moment to forget for Martinez as he failed to hold onto Harvey Elliott’s cross, letting it roll over the line.

Despite Liverpool’s bright start, Villa equalised against the run of play – Ollie Watkins pulled it back to Tielemans, who drilled a first-time shot into the bottom-left corner.

Gakpo restored the Reds’ lead in the 23rd minute, meeting Joe Gomez’s low cross to fire into an empty net, with the on-field decision confirmed after a VAR review for an offside in the build-up.

Diego Carlos should have dragged Villa level again before the break, but with an open net to aim for at close range, he could only guide his shot wide of the far post.

Liverpool started the second half brightly, with Quansah netting his first goal for the club with a towering, unmarked header into the top-left corner before offside decisions denied both sides more goals.

Watkins thought he had scored his 20th Premier League goal of the season when he guided it past Alisson, but it was disallowed following a VAR review as Leon Bailey set off too early in the build-up.

Minutes later, Elliott skipped in front of Mohamed Salah to poke Luis Diaz’s cross past a stranded Martinez, but the flag was up against the Colombian.

Duran’s introduction flipped the momentum back in Villa’s favour, as the substitute scored twice in three minutes to salvage a draw – he drilled the first into the bottom-corner after dispossessing Alexis Mac Allister before perhaps fortuitously flicking Moussa Diaby’s pass over Alisson and into the net.

Home comforts for Villa

Villa knew a win here would confirm fourth spot and Champions League football, and while they did not quite achieve that, this was a small and significant step towards securing it.

Though they were not helped by Martinez's mistake in the second minute, with the goalkeeper scoring the earliest own goal since Antolin Alcaraz (54 seconds) for Everton against Southampton in April 2014, Villa kept fighting to get a result.

The Villans are now unbeaten in their final home game of the season in each of the last five campaigns since their promotion back to the top-flight in 2019, winning three and drawing two. They have Duran to thank for that record extending, and they will now watch Spurs’ match against City with great interest.

Quick starts boost Reds

In Jurgen Klopp's penultimate game in charge of Liverpool, his side showed signs of their free-scoring best once more.

Quansah's header was the 140th goal across all competitions for Liverpool this season - it is their second-highest scoring campaign in the club's history after 2021-22 (147).

They made bright starts to both halves and were rewarded with goals inside the opening three minutes each time to put themselves in control.

However, another defensive lapse at the back, similar to the one they had against Tottenham, ultimately cost them two points. The Reds finish their season at home to Wolves on Sunday.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has praised the "incredible job" Unai Emery has done during his time at Aston Villa ahead of Monday's contest between the sides.

Emery guided Villa into the Europa Conference League in his first campaign in charge, where they made it to the semi-final stage.

The Villans' Euro campaign was ended by Olympiacos on Thursday, but they are one win from securing a Champions League spot for next term.

Emery's men, who lost 1-0 at Brighton last time out in the league, can get themselves over the line with a game to spare when Liverpool visit Villa Park next up.

"He's done an incredible job," Klopp said. "Emery is one of the best we have in the business, 100 per cent. Wherever he was, he had success. 

"Sometimes clubs were not ready to wait for it, maybe. If you look back probably these clubs would have made different decisions. 

"The job he is doing is absolutely exceptional. We all know how important it is for a club to qualify for the Champions League, how difficult it is."

Liverpool enter the contest third in the Premier League, 11 points better off than Villa, with their title hopes now officially over.

While there may not be a great deal on the line for the Reds on the face of it, this will be Klopp's final away game as Liverpool manager.

The German is departing after next week's home match with Wolves, and Villa skipper John McGinn says he will be missed.

"The league has been very lucky to have Klopp," McGinn said. "He has obviously got an identity and a really strong team. He will be missed.

"I think everyone knows what we think of our own manager. We are very lucky to have him and his staff. They work endlessly to make us better."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Aston Villa - Ollie Watkins

Watkins has failed to score in back-to-back games in all competitions for Villa, with his blank against Brighton leaving him one short of the 20-goal mark in the Premier League this season.

The last Villa player to reach that mark in a top-flight campaign was Peter Withe in 1980-81.

The omens are certainly good, as only against Brighton (six) - ironically - has Watkins scored more goals in the competition than he has against Liverpool (five).

Liverpool - Mohamed Salah

Salah returned to the Liverpool starting line-up last weekend and both scored and assisted in the 4-2 win over Tottenham.

The Egyptian has now both scored and assisted in four different Premier League games this season - only Chelsea's Cole Palmer (five) has done so more often.

Across his entire Premier League career, Salah has done so 31 times in total, with that a tally only Wayne Rooney (36) and Thierry Henry (32) can better.

MATCH PREDICTION - LIVERPOOL WIN

Villa lost 1-0 to Brighton in their most recent league game, but they have not lost successive Premier League matches since May last year.

Liverpool were 4-2 winners against Tottenham last time out, meanwhile, and have lost just one of their past 26 league games played in May.

This is a fixture the Reds tend to do well in, however, as they have lost just once and won 10 times in their past 12 league games with Villa.

Indeed, Liverpool have won more Premier League away games against Villa than they have any other opponents (16).

Historically speaking, meanwhile, Liverpool have lost only one of their eight final away league games under Klopp, last doing so in 2018.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Aston Villa - 27.1%

Draw - 27.7%

Liverpool - 45.2%

Jurgen Klopp insists he is not aware of any speculation regarding the future of Darwin Nunez as he defended the out-of-form forward.

Nunez missed a good chance in last weekend's 4-2 win over Tottenham as his run without a goal extended to an eighth game in all competitions.

The Uruguay international came in for criticism and later deleted all images of himself in a Liverpool shirt on his personal Instagram account.

Rumours regarding a possible end-of-season exit for Nunez have circulated in recent weeks, with Barcelona supposedly among those interested. 

However, when asked about the 24-year-old at Friday's press conference, Klopp said: "There is no speculation. That must be external. 

"I'm not involved in that anymore. It's just the situation we're in. He was definitely not happy missing that chance [against Tottenham].

"He has been unlucky in so many situations. He does everything right and the ball doesn't go in. There are no alternatives but going through it."

Nunez has 31 goals and assists combined in all competitions this season - a tally only Mohamed Salah (38) can better among Liverpool players.

He is in contention to feature for Liverpool against Aston Villa on Monday as the Reds look to end Klopp's tenure on a winning run.

The German has just two games left in charge, with the contest at Villa Park followed by the visit of Wolves at Anfield six days later.

Klopp risks having to watch that Anfield finale from the stands, though, as he will incur a touchline suspension should he receive a yellow card against Villa.

Asked about that possibility, Klopp told reporters: "I've known this for a long time. I've only got two yellow cards [this season]. A few of my colleagues have already got suspended, so I've got calmer over the years.

"I don't need to be on the touchline [for the final game with Wolves], but it would be cool. It will not be from my side, but I will try absolutely everything not to be involved in any discussions!"

John McGinn is quickly turning his focus to the "astronomical achievement" of Champions League qualification after Aston Villa suffered heartbreak in the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League.

Villa were among the favourites to lift Europe's third-tier trophy but a 2-0 defeat at Olympiacos on Thursday consigned Unai Emery's men to a 6-2 aggregate loss over the two-leg tie.

It means Villa end what has largely been viewed as an excellent season without a trophy but they can still finish on a high by securing a top-four finish in the Premier League.

They lead fifth-place Tottenham by seven points with two games left in their domestic season, albeit Spurs do have a game in hand.

McGinn apologised to the travelling support in Piraeus but, speaking to TNT Sports after the game, said there is still an opportunity to finish the season on a high.

"We went into this competition as favourites and we handled that pressure throughout the competition, I think it’s been a huge learning curve for us," he said.

"It's not been a smooth journey, we got to the semi-finals down to the bare bones a bit.

"However, those of us who were out there over the two legs, we lost to who were the better team and I think the scoreline proves it."

"Our instant feeling is absolutely gutted. We all wanted to be back here for the final.

"Olympiacos gave it absolutely everything, played out of their skin in both legs, and overall the scoreline proves they were the better team.

"We'll reflect, there's a lot of things we could have done better, but over the season, of course, we can be proud of the journey.

"Obviously, we need to apologise to the supporters who have travelled here, they've travelled the whole campaign with us.

"We wanted to deliver a trophy to them, we all wanted it as players. We’'e all bitterly disappointed, but we need a big push in the last two games to try and get over the line for the Champions League, which would be an astronomical achievement.

"But here, the overriding feeling is disappointment, frustration and an opportunity missed. Congratulations to Olympiacos and we wish them all the best in the final."

Olympiacos will face Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final after an Ayoub El Kaabi double secured a 6-2 aggregate win over Aston Villa.

After a stunning 4-2 win at Villa Park last weekend to take the ascendancy in the semi-final tie, first-leg hat-trick hero El Kaabi struck early before netting again late on to stamp out any hopes of a Villa comeback.

After a strong start from the visitors, El Kaabi scored his fourth goal of the tie just 10 minutes into Thursday's second leg at Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki, getting on the end of Quini's low cross to turn home at the far post.

It looked an uphill battle for Villa, who dominated the possession throughout the contest in Greece but struggled to make a dent in the stubborn hosts.

Douglas Luiz saw a long-range effort saved by Kostas Tzolakis while the Olympiacos goalkeeper also denied Moussa Diaby. El Kaabi made sure late on, getting on the end of a long ball to fire past Martinez and secure Olympiacos' final berth.

The fairytale comeback never materialised for Villa, and it will be Olympiacos who take on Fiorentina at the Agia Sophia Stadium in the Greek capital of Athens on May 29, looking to utilise familiar surroundings to claim their first major European trophy.

Data debrief

El Kaabi was the hero again for Olympiacos as his two second-leg finishes took him to 10 Europa Conference League goals for the campaign, more than any other player, while his 13 strikes in major European competitions are also more than any other player when factoring in his three Europa League goals.

Villa had 73.9 per cent of the ball in the second leg, yet their 1.14 xG (expected goals) was still inferior to Olympiacos' 1.23 as the Greek Super League side's ruthlessness clinched their spot in the final.

Unai Emery says Thursday's Europa Conference League clash with Olympiacos is Aston Villa's "biggest challenge" of the season.

Villa are 4-2 down after a shock defeat in the first leg of the semi-final tie at Villa Park last week.

While they are pushing for a top-four finish in the Premier League, Emery believes attempting to overturn the deficit in Greece will prove to be Villa's biggest test yet.

"This is the challenge tomorrow, the biggest challenge we’re going to face this year, playing in this semi-final," Emery said.

"I will find the best performances tomorrow and really be competitive.

"Of course, it's going to be very difficult here away because the atmosphere supporting the home team could be more difficult.

"In 90 minutes, we have to be focused with everything tactically, being in control of our emotions, set-pieces as well, everything."

Olympiacos or Villa will face Fiorentina in the final on May 29, after the Serie A club overcame Club Brugge on Wednesday.

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