Aston Villa boss Unai Emery felt his much-changed side had produced a perfect night after securing top spot in their Europa Conference League group and a place in the last 16 with a 1-1 draw away to Zrinjski Mostar
Emery made eight changes from Saturday’s win against Arsenal, with goalkeeper Filip Marschall handed his debut and Jacob Ramsey making a first start for five months.
On-loan Galatasaray midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo put Villa in front just after the hour mark.
Although Matija Malekinusic fired a spectacular equaliser for the hosts in the closing stages, the result was enough to see Villa finish top of Group E ahead of Legia Warsaw.
Villa now avoid two play-off matches and so progress straight into the knockout stages.
“We are happy because our objective was to be first in the group, with this draw we are,” Emery said.
“We tried to play with some players who are not playing regularly in the season because of injuries like Jacob Ramsey and Alex Moreno, and with Leander Dendoncker, Filip Marschall and Tommi O’Reilly as well.
“It’s important for them to get confidence and minutes. Tonight was perfect with the draw and result and perfect to give some of the players chances.”
Emery added in quotes on the Aston Villa website: “We wanted to win, but our first objective is completely done: to be first in the group.
“We want to enjoy the way in this competition because for us to be in Europe, it is important to remember how we achieved it last year and how we are now trying to win a trophy.
“We want to enjoy it with our supporters and some supporters were here with us today. It is important for them to be together and enjoy this way in Europe.”