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West Brom 1-0 Aston Villa (2-2): Dean Smith's side through to play-off final after victory on penalties

Aston Villa celebrate reaching the Sky Bet Championship play-off final
Aston Villa celebrate reaching the Sky Bet Championship play-off final

Aston Villa are through to the Sky Bet Championship play-off final following victory on penalties against West Brom.

Craig Dawson scored the only goal of 120 minutes of football with a header in the first-half.

The Baggies had to battle with ten men for more than 45 minutes after Chris Brunt was handed his marching orders for a second yellow card.

Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer was the hero with saves in the shootout, striker Tammy Abraham made no mistake in scoring the final spot kick.

James Shan had to adjust to life without Dwight Gayle following the striker’s red card in the first leg. He introduced Jacob Murphy to the side, he lined up alongside Jay Rodriguez and Matt Phillips in an attacking trio.

For Villa, Conor Hourihane and Andre Green were given starts having been introduced from the bench on Saturday.

With the first leg full of controversy, the talking points continued early into the second. West Brom felt that they should have had a penalty just seven minutes in when Anwar El Ghazi appeared to use his arm to control the ball in the box. Referee Chris Kavanagh wasn’t interested in the appeals.

Villa had done what was required in the opening 20 minutes by keeping the home crowd quiet, although Dawson’s strike on the half hour mark saw the hosts draw level on aggregate.

A long throw from Mason Holgate fell into the path of the centre-back, who directed his header into the bottom corner past a helpless Steer.

The visitors had opportunities before the break and were presented with a chance to equalise as Jack Grealish went down at the edge of the area. The resulting free-kick, from the usually reliable Conor Hourihane, struck the bottom of the wall.

Villa’s nerves were on display in the second-half. Loose passes became a regular occurrence up until the hour mark, although Jacob Murphy and Jay Rodriguez couldn’t capitalise on the half chances they were presented with as a result.

The away side looked shaky, although they had the occasional opportunity themselves. El Ghazi’s strike from the edge of the area forced Sam Johnstone to push the ball away as the game approached the final 20 minutes of normal time.

The Baggies were hit with a huge blow when captain Chris Brunt was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on John McGinn. The midfielder had little complaints, although it gave his side a mountain to climb.

In the 87th minute, Johnstone came to the rescue. The ball fell to Albert Adomah who was less than ten yards out, his powerful shot was heading for the bottom corner, but the Baggies goalkeeper’s strong forearm directed it behind for a corner.

Villa pushed in an attempt to make the extra man count but the West Brom defence did enough to keep them at bay, setting up an additional 30 minutes.

Dean Smith’s men were odds-on 1/3 favourites to secure their spot in the final as extra-time got underway, and they continued to be the side who looked the most likely to grab the next goal. Hourihane and Grealish both had shots from distance that failed to come close.

They continued to dominate possession but had to be patient for opportunities to arise. Crosses into the area were dealt with by the defence, while shots from distance were not an issue for the goalkeeper.

Steer played his part by saving the first two penalties, which allowed Abraham to step up and score the winner with Villa's fifth and final kick.


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Most Read Football

Vincent Kompany will return to Anderlecht1

Kompany to become Anderlecht boss

Vincent Kompany will become the player-manager of Belgian club Anderlecht next season following his departure from Manchester City.

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages2

Paper Talk: Shooting star

Find out which Inter Milan youngster is high on the list of summer targets for both Liverpool and Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola and Raheem Sterling after their FA Cup triumph3

Watch: Pep's rant at Sterling

Pep Guardiola gave Raheem Sterling a lecture on the Wembley pitch despite the player scoring two goals in their treble sealing FA Cup triumph.

Laurent Depoitre and Huddersfield celebrate4

Sky Bet Championship free agents

With the 2018/19 season coming to an end, we take a look at every free agent who will be available after leaving clubs in the Sky Bet Championship.

Check out today's Paper Talk5

Paper Talk: Juve target Poch

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