'We needed our goalkeeper' - Aston Villa boss credits Leeds United attack despite result

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery gave his verdict on the Villans’ 2-1 win over Leeds United on Friday evening as the Whites went winless in seven
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Jesse Marsch’s side created the majority of the game’s chances but failed to make it count at Villa Park on Friday evening as Emery’s men won their fourth match in six. Jack Harrison saw a goalbound effort saved at point-blank range by World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emi Martinez during the first half, while Rodrigo was denied his 12th goal of the season by an offside flag and subsequent VAR call, confirming the on-field decision.

Emi Buendia’s second half header, capitalising on Illan Meslier’s save which rebounded out to the Argentine, was initially ruled out but overturned by the Video Assistant Referee to give the home side a two-goal advantage, moments before Leeds were able to introduce reinforcements Max Wober and Patrick Bamford.

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The latter did manage to score for the first time since December 2021, as Leeds reduced the arrears but their work ethic was not rewarded with a point when Michael Oliver blew the final whistle.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13: Unai Emery, Manager of Aston Villa, gives the team instructions during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on January 13, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13: Unai Emery, Manager of Aston Villa, gives the team instructions during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on January 13, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13: Unai Emery, Manager of Aston Villa, gives the team instructions during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on January 13, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Speaking at full-time, Villa’s newly-installed coach Emery spoke of his side’s most recent win, as they pull clear of the relegation dogfight, condemning Leeds to a seventh straight winless game.

“Two different halves,” Emery began. “They were with a lot of energy, pushing, pressing and a lot of duels. We needed to stay calm and try to break the first pressure to attack the spaces. We did an amazing goal, amazing transition but then we needed our goalkeeper to save some very, very good actions from them. But the second half was different. We have to fight face-to-face in the duels but we needed to keep the ball possession and try to do longer possession with the ball, try to impose and progress with the passes, and control the game like we want, and in the second half we did that amazing.”

Villa’s opening goalscorer Leon Bailey told Sky Sports following the win: “For us tonight was really important. We showed really good team spirit. It was great to have the fans on their feet again. It's nice to get a win again at Villa Park!”

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