Aston Villa boss Unai Emery said it was mission accomplished after his side cruised into the European Conference League group stage with an 8-0 aggregate win against Hibernian.
Villa were 5-0 up from a resounding win in Edinburgh last week and completed formalities in the second leg as first-half goals from Jhon Duran and Leon Bailey put them out of sight.
Substitute Matty Cash sealed a 3-0 win on the night as Villa hosted European football for the first time since 2010 and they now await Friday’s group-stage draw in Monaco to learn who they will face.
Unai Emery: "For me, it is very important to be in Europe, for the club as well, for the supporters." 🙌 pic.twitter.com/XGUnQs10ep
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) August 31, 2023
Four-time Europa League winner Emery said: “Yes of course (I’m happy). We finished it tonight.
“We needed to be in the group stage and we have to be happy and enjoy it with our supporters.
“Today it was a full stadium and to finish and qualify was fantastic. I’m really happy because I really enjoy it in Europe and I want to enjoy it now with Aston Villa.”
The Spaniard is expecting Villa to complete the loan signing of Clement Lenglet before the transfer window closes on Friday.
“He’s not completely signed, but he’s close to signing with us,” Emery said.
“He’s a player who can help us. With the injury to Tyrone Mings, he can replace him in the squad.”
Emery said it “was possible” that Philippe Coutinho could leave Villa Park on deadline day and added: “I’m very happy with our squad.
“The club made a big effort to complete our squad. There’s still one day to go and we’re going to be ready.”
Hibs are going through a difficult spell having sacked manager Lee Johnson on Sunday after a home defeat to Livingston had left them bottom of the cinch Premiership without a point.
They were outclassed for large periods in both legs against Villa, but were given a rapturous send-off by their noisy 2,200 travelling fans and caretaker boss David Gray said he was proud of them and his players.
Hear from David Gray following tonight's UEFA Europa Conference League exit at Villa Park… pic.twitter.com/wQbhGBmxln
— Hibernian Football Club (@HibernianFC) August 31, 2023
Former Hibs defender Gray, appointed caretaker for a third time after Johnson’s departure, said: “I’m proud of the players.
“They worked right to the very end in difficult circumstances all round at the football club at the moment, but I can’t fault the effort or commitment from the players.
“Playing against this level of opposition, if you switch off for a split second or make a slight mistake, you get punished. They’re a top, top team with fantastic players.”
On Hibs’ impressive following, Gray added: “I’ve been at the club nearly 10 years now and they’ve always been fantastic.
“You say there was 2,000, I’m sure there was a lot more that came down. Fantastic support as always.”