Aston Villa see off Middlesbrough to set up Fulham final
Championship play-off semi-final second leg, Villa Park - Aston Villa 0 Middlesbrough 0, Aston Villa, progress 1-0 on aggregate
A goalless draw at Villa Park on Tuesday ultimately sent Villa through to their first-ever play-off final, with Boro failing to record a shot on target on the night.
However, there was a contentious moment late on as Sam Johnstone saved Adama Traore’s effort outside the box – Mike Dean opted to show the Villa 'keeper a yellow, with Stewart Downing going on to see his free-kick cannon off the bar.
Villa survived that late scare, meaning it’s third-placed Fulham against fourth-placed Villa for the right to play Premier League football next year.
Ben Gibson of Middlesbrough collides with Jack Grealish of Aston Villa during the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Semi Final second leg match between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on May 15, 2018 in Birmingham, England.Getty Images
Fulham the favourites? It was a dogged defensive showing from the boys in claret and blue, and though Boro offered little going forward, Fulham will be wary of how difficult this Villa side are to break down, particularly with John Terry leading them at the back.
However, you’d fancy Fulham to be favourites going into the final on May 26. Not only did they finish above Villa, and edge their two league matches this season 3-2 on aggregate, but they also have that bit of flair going forward - their second-half display against Derby on Monday was the standout showing of the semis.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Mile Jedinak – By no means a classic, with no standout performances, but Villa were solid as a unit. Jedinak proved an immovable force in front of their defence, reducing Boro to half-chances, until that late drama…
Fans invade the pitch at the full time whistle after the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Semi Final second leg match between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on May 15, 2018 in Birmingham, England.Getty Images
39’ - WIDE! And there's the first big chance of the game. Boro can't deal with a cross and the loose ball falls to Chester 10 yards out. However, he can't direct his effort on target when striking on the turn.
53’ - JUST WIDE! Besic takes the ball in his stride 20 yards out and unleashes a low strike. It actually looks as though it flicks off Chester and wide, but a goal-kick is given.
61’ - SAVE! Fine move from Villa ends with Adomah rolling the ball over for Grabban, but there is Randolh to make a point-blank save. Vital stop to keep the visitors in this one.
76’ - SAVE! Patient build-up play from Villa, and Grealish dances past Clayton before whipping a fierce effort towards the far corner, but Randoplh does superbly to get over and palm it away.
88’ - WOW! Should Johnstone see red here??? The Villa keeper comes out of his area and as Terry heads the ball into the air, Traore shoots - but there is Johnstone to palm it away - OUTSIDE THE AREA. Free-kick to Boro 20 yards out, but should Villa be down to 10 men???
Conor Hourihane of Aston Villa , Robert Snodgrass of Aston Villa , Glenn Whelan of Aston Villa and Jack Grealish of Aston Villa celebrate at the full time whistle after the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Semi Final second leg match between Aston Villa andGetty Images
89’ - OFF THE BAR! Would you believe it, from the resulting free-kick, Downing's fierce effort cannons off the bar. A huge let-off for Villa.