McGinn issues Euro vow while insisting Aston Villa defeat part of 'the journey'

John McGinn is challenged by Santiago Hezze during the UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final second leg match between Olympiacos and Aston Villa.
Over and out... John McGinn takes a tumble during Villa's 2-0 defeat to Olympiacos. -Credit:Milos Bicanski

Aston Villa skipper John McGinn swallowed his disappointment at crashing out of the Europa Conference League with a vow to go one step further next time.

Villa travelled to Athens needing to overturn a 4-2 deficit from the first leg, but limped to a 2-0 defeat to Olympiacos on the night, with last week’s hat-trick hero, Ayoub El Kaabi, scoring the goals which sent the Greek side through to their first-ever European final.

And speaking to TNT Sports after the semi-final second leg, McGinn made it clear defeat was part of the Villa learning process, not the end of a dream.

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He explained: “We went into this competition as favourites and we handle that throughout the competition. I think it has been a big learning curve for us. It's not been a smooth journey. We got to the semi-final but were down to the bare bones a wee bit. However, those of us that were out there across the two legs lost to the better team and the scoreline shows that.

"For us, going into more European competition next season, we need to learn how to manage moments a lot better. Of course we wanted to do better this year and get to a European final, but we will do everything we can to get ourselves back into this position again and get to a final.”

Villa had been eyeing a first European final since 1982, and McGinn admitted injuries had taken their toll, but insisted it was no excuse for their efforts against Olympiacos.

He added: “The manager drills into us that it is a no excuse environment. Listen, you want everyone available, you want your best players there. When you are in the trenches, you want someone you can turn to in order to change the game or do something different.

"Tonight, I think the game plan was perfect in the first half. We've got to be really proud of how we played. The goal was extremely disappointing. But the tie was unfortunately lost in the first leg - we didn't control the game or manage it well enough, the performance was poor.

“Believe it or not, we actually started the game very well tonight. The first half was a really good performance by us, but over the two legs very, very disappointing obviously.”

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