Monday, 28 May, 2018

Bruce: Villa were a mess after relegation

Aston Villa v Middlesbrough Team News: Elmohamady And Ayala Miss Crucial 2nd Leg Five things we learned as Villa get past Boro to reach C'ship play-off final
Lucia Summers | 16 May, 2018, 06:27

Boro boss Pulis know that there's a tricky challenge facing his side tonight, but isn't refusing to give up hope of making a comeback; "Villa are in the ascendency in the tie, we've got to go to Villa Park in front of a full house so that gives them the advantage".

Taking a 1-0 lead into the second-leg at Villa Park on Tuesday, Aston Villa would have fancied their chances of reaching the Championship play-off final. "They've got some good players but, then again, so have we", he said.

A long, traumatic season for Steve Bruce could yet deliver a happy ending of sorts as Aston Villa moved to within 90 minutes of a return to the Premier League.

Mile Jedinak's goal in the first leg on Teesside proved enough to end Middlesbrough's own Premier League dream, on a night when Tony Pulis' team failed to register a shot on target.

Villa captain John Terry told Sky Sports: "It's unbelievable and incredible".

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"There is a great team spirit among the boys". Stewart Downing fired the subsequent freekick off the woodwork but Middlesborough fans were furious Johnstone was not sent off. Villa had made three subs at the time so a red card would have forced an outfield player to play in goals.

Villa came close through Lewis Grabban and Conor Hourihane and were comfortable against a poor Boro side.

Both of Pulis' former Premier League clubs in Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion have been relegated to the Championship for next season with the Welshman having played some part in the latter's drop, being sacked as recent as November.

After the tension came the overwhelming relief and unbridled joy for Aston Villa.

He said: "I think it's a disappointing decision from one of our top officials. We have to improve next year".

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