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Europa Conference League: Ollie Watkins bags hat-trick as Aston Villa thrash Hibernian 5-0

Aston Villa thrash Hibernian 5-0 in Conference League play-offs

Aston Villa have all but confirmed their place in the Europa Conference League group stage after registering a commanding 5-0 victory over Hibernian in Scotland.

The Villans were far too good for Hibs on the night, and Ollie Watkins was the star of the show as he bagged a stunning hat-trick to put Villa on the cusp of qualification.

Villa kicked off the match on the front foot and cranked up the pressure as the game progressed, with Lucas Digne and Moussa Diaby testing the Hibs goalkeeper early on.

However, it only took 17 minutes for Unai Emery’s side to break the deadlock as Watkins bravely latched on to a Digne cross to head home the opening goal.

The English striker had another sight of goal in similar fashion but was unable to keep his header down before Leon Bailey spurned a good chance to extend the lead on the half-hour mark.

Watkins grabbed his second of the night with another header in the 33rd minute before Bailey headed home Villa’s third with half-time on the horizon.

Villa finished the first half firmly on the front foot, but eyebrows were raised when Robin Olsen replaced Emiliano Martinez between the sticks for the second period.

Hibernian also made a couple of half-time changes in personnel in a hopeful attempt to salvage something from a game that was already out of their reach.

Their efforts proved futile as Watkins completed his hat-trick just four minutes after the restart, latching on to another Digne cross to head home from a seemingly difficult position.

Villa dominated their Scottish counterparts throughout the game, with Hibernian having no answer to the quality from Emery’s side.

The Scottish Premiership club offered next to nothing going forward, with only two shots on target to show for all their attacking endeavours.

The game was already wrapped up before Douglas Luiz put the cherry on top, rifling home Villa’s fifth from the penalty spot following an infringement from Lewis Stevenson.

Emery’s side controlled the rest of the proceedings to ensure a clean sheet on a memorable night for the Villans, who were making their debut on the European stage following a 13-year hiatus.

Villa will host Hibernian in Birmingham for their second-leg clash. But the damage has already been done and the reverse fixture will be a formality.

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