Unai Emery pinpoints 'in-the-mood' Aston Villa star for special praise

Unai Emery spoke to the press after West Ham United 1-1 Aston Villa in the Premier League.
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Unai Emery is delighted with Aston Villa super substitute Nicolo Zaniolo for his point-rescuing efforts in the 1-1 draw away at West Ham United.

The Italian, who has been rather out-of-sorts for much of this season, arrived on the field invigorated and determined to score an equaliser. He did just that in the 79th minute, poking home from a low Moussa Diaby cross for his third Villa goal, cancelling out Michail Antonio's opener.

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Emery didn't hide his elation as he left the technical area and pumped his fists passionately in response to Zaniolo's strike. That joy failed to repeat in the post-match press conference as Emery appeared disappointed, especially with his team's performance in the opening 45 minutes.

"More or less, the first half we didn't control the game," Emery conceded. "We were trying to get into the attacking third with the possibility to threaten but when we were getting there we weren’t getting into the box. Even when they had high press we didn’t get good options.

"When they scored the game changed and the plan changed. The second half we did better, we dominated more and got in their box. Our chances were not clear as they defended very deep in their box but we were playing well. We scored the goal to get the draw. We tried to win the match, it was what I wanted but at the end we draw. We have to accept it," Emery continued.

Zaniolo's goal rescued a point for Villa at London Stadium.Zaniolo's goal rescued a point for Villa at London Stadium.
Zaniolo's goal rescued a point for Villa at London Stadium.

The head coach, although not outwardly admitting it, looked frustrated by his team's failure to respond to Tottenham Hotspur's defeat to Fulham. A win would've moved Villa five points clear of Spurs and 11 ahead of Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League fight.

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There were still some positives, though, with Zaniolo's involvement a key one. "When we needed them, the players were focused and helped the team. Nicolo was one of them and his impact was fantastic. Hopefully, we can have him in this mood for the rest of the season," Emery said.

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