Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Ollie Watkins scores hat-trick as Aston Villa dominate Hibernian in Conference League

Ollie Watkins is filling his boots in Aston Villa’s Conference League qualifier, scoring a hat-trick against Hibernian at Easter Road.

The England striker went into the game having not scored in either of Villa’s Premier League matches this term, but is having a field day against the Scottish Premiership side.

Watkins broke the deadlock with this headerGetty

And he had three by the 50th minuteGetty

He got the ball rolling on 17 minutes with a glancing header from Lucas Digne’s cross on the left – Watkins’ first goal in club European competitions.

Watkins then got his second on 33 minutes with another header as he latched onto Diego Carlos’ flick-on from a corner.

Leon Bailey then made it 3-0 with a header on 42 minutes, and Watkins completed his treble just after the break when he slotted the ball home from inside the Hibernian box after being laid off by Digne, who registered a hat-trick of assists in the first leg.

The Villans, playing in their first European tie since 2010, then went 5-0 up through Douglas Luiz’s nonchalant penalty after Bertrand Traore had his legs swiped from him by Lewis Stevenson.

Villa’s five-goal advantage puts them firmly in charge of the Battle of Britain clash with the second leg to be played at Villa Park on August 31. The winner of the tie will secure a place in the group stage of this season’s competition.

Emery’s side qualified for the play-offs of the competition by finishing seventh in the Premier League last term, finishing above clubs including Tottenham and Chelsea.

West Ham are the current holders of the Conference League, beating Italian side Fiorentina in last season’s final.

Villa are pre-tournament favourites to win the Conference LeagueGetty

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