BIRMINGHAM: Aston Villa all but sealed qualification to the Europa Conference League knockout stages as Ollie Watkins’ late winner helped his side come from behind to beat AZ Alkmaar at Villa Park.

Watkins raced on to Douglas Luiz’s chipped pass to nod Villa in front in the 81st minute.

Vangelis Pavlidis had scored AZ Alkmaar’s opener early in the second half, latching on to a ball over the top and dinking a finish over Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez.

Diego Carlos equalised for Villa nine minutes later when he rose highest to meet Leon Bailey’s corner and nod in his first goal for the club.

The result means Villa need just one more point from their final two matches to reach the knockout stages of the Conference League.

They remain second in the group, six points above Zrinjski Mostar, who are ahead of AZ on goal difference.

“The reaction after we conceded was fantastic,” said Aston Villa manager Unai Emery.

“We have to be strong and take experiences like tonight to know how to win in Europe against really good teams.”