Aston Villa holds off Boro, moves onto playoff final
Playoff finals are old hat for Steve Bruce, but a new event for Aston Villa.
The Birmingham club beat Middlesbrough 1-0 over two legs, the second a 0-0 draw at Villa Park on Tuesday, to advance to meet Fulham in the Championship Playoff final at Wembley Stadium on May 26.
Stewart Downing’s 89th minute free kick off the cross bar was Boro’s only sniff of the goal.
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Villa is in just its third season outside of the English top flight since 1975, though Bruce managed Hull City and Birmingham City to the Premier League through the playoffs.
Boro scored plenty under Tony Pulis in the season, but it was a case of traditional Pulis stats in the playoffs. The notoriously stingy manager saw his side manage just two shots on target over two legs, with both coming in the home leg.
Lewis Grabban of Villa had the two best scoring chances of the match, but Darren Randolph made a pair of saves.
Villa won the first leg on a Jack Grealish to Mile Jedinak goal.
On Monday, Fulham flipped a first leg deficit to Derby County on its ear to clinch its space at Wembley.