A solitary goal from the Irishman was enough to put the young lions into the last four of the NextGen Series, after a closely contested encounter with the Greeks at Villa ParkAston Villa overcame Olympiakos 1-0 at in the NextGen Series quarter-finals at Villa Park to progress through to the final four.
A first-half volley from Graham Burke from 10 yards out was the difference, as the result sees the Villans become the second English side to progress to the last four of the competition, following Chelsea who defeated Juventus on Monday night.
Callum Robinson was given the opportunity of leading the line for the home side with the competitions top-goalscorer, Michael Drennan, ruled out with a foot injury.
His absence was missed early on with the game starting off slowly at Villa Park. It took just under ten minutes for Olympiakos winger Georgios Lyras to register the game’s first real chance, scuffing his shot wide from a Klodian Gino’s through ball.
The home side hit back immediately through Samir Carruthers, whose adventurous run through midfield allowed Robinson the chance to get an effort on goal. His attempt was clutched gratefully by Eleftherids Choutesiotis after initially fumbling the ball.
However on 12 minutes Aston Villa opened the scoring through Burke, who met a right-wing cross with a volley to beat the keeper at his near post from 10 yards out – the Irishman netting his third of the tournament.
On 30 minutes, Carruthers’ free kick from 25 yards out was smashed straight into the wall. However the rebound fell fortunately to Jordan Lyden on the edge of the box; his through ball to Josh Barton allowing the Villa midfielder a stinging shot on goal.
The visitors were starting to find their rhythm and the pace and trickery of Lyras opened up the opportunity for Charalampos Lykogiannis on the overlap to drill a ball in for Siopis inside the box, yet his shot was met by the hand of the keeper.
With half-time looming, the home side mounted a further attack on the Olympiakos goal, but Robinson found his effort deflected off the heel off Pinto thus taking away any slight pace the ball may have carried.
The visitors were nearly gifted an equaliser in the second half when Carruthers was easily dispossessed deep in the middle of the park, but Ioannidis failed to capitalise on his error and dragged his shot wide to the right.
Minutes later and it was Aston Villa who were ruing missed chances when an effort from Jack Grealish inside the penalty area hit the post and rebounded back for the keeper to parry.
Grealish came close again on 72 minutes. Josh Barton picked the ball up on the right hand side and swung a ball across the box for the winger - his fine header on the back post needing a smart save from Choutesiotis.
The visitors threw plenty at the Villa goal, yet the home side hung on to a priceless victory and clinched their place in the last four of the NextGen Series, setting up the possibility of an all-English semi-final.