Aston Villa will play Leeds or Derby in the Championship play-off final on 27 May Aston Villa beat West Bromwich Albion in a penalty shootout to reach the Championship play-off final for the second successive season. Tammy Abraham’s winning spot-kick, after Villa keeper Jed Steer had saved Albion’s first two penalties, settled the shootout 4-3
Aston Villa beat West Bromwich Albion in a penalty shootout to reach the Championship play-off final for the second successive season.
Tammy Abraham’s winning spot-kick, after Villa keeper Jed Steer had saved Albion’s first two penalties, settled the shootout 4-3 in Villa’s favour after a gripping two hours of tension-packed derby drama.
Trailing 2-1 from Saturday’s first leg, Albion levelled the tie when Craig Dawson flicked home a near-post header from a long throw.
But, just as much as Dwight Gayle’s red card proved crucial at Villa Park, so did the 80th minute sending-off of Albion captain Chris Brunt as the Baggies finished with 10 men for the second time in four days.
They held on for penalties and, although Albert Adomah’s miss in the shootout briefly gave them hope after Steer had saved from Mason Holgate and Ahmed Hegazi, Abraham kept his nerve to book a play-off final meeting with either Leeds or Derby at Wembley on 27 May.
Two red cards in four days hinder Albion
The main sub-plot of a tight two-legged play-off semi-final was Albion’s two red cards, with top scorer Gayle sent off on Saturday and skipper Brunt dismissed at The Hawthorns.
If the Baggies were a bit unlucky at Villa Park over the controversial Gayle incident, this time there was no doubt at all.
Brunt stepped on John McGinn’s arm in their first tangle before the break, but referee Chris Kavanagh either did not see the incident or deemed it accidental.
Brunt was then booked early in the second half for a late challenge on McGinn, which could easily have been interpreted as a sending-off offence in its own right.
When he brought McGinn down again on the edge of the box, Brunt’s resulting red card was inevitable.
The Hawthorns’ 12th man
It might have been a different story if Albion had stayed at 11 men, given what a force they had been when roared on from even before kick-off by their raucous home support.
They had already looked a threat before they finally took the lead after 29 minutes, not surprisingly from an aerial set-piece.
Albion won a throw close to the corner flag and, when Holgate hurled in a long one to the near post, it did not immediately seem that dangerous, but Dawson got in first – as he has done so often in such set-piece situations during his career – and steered in a flicked header which crept in at the far post.
Albion had other chances too – Tyrone Mings blocked a Jacob Murphy on his own goal line, Jay Rodriguez had a powerful shot straight at keeper Steer, Matt Phillips powered a close-range header just over and Brunt shot powerfully just wide.
But, although it took a fierce low shot from Anwar El Ghazi to test Sam Johnstone properly for the first time after the break, Villa were already starting to turn the tide before Brunt’s departure.
And, once they had a man advantage, they were hard to hold back.
Adomah had a left-footed shot from 12 yards superbly saved by former Villa keeper Johnstone, while Hourihane had an effort deflected over and then Adomah fired just wide.
Two tired sides then got through extra-time as Villa still failed to break down the door before the drama of spot-kicks,
And in Steer, Villa’s third-choice goalkeeper at the start of he season, Dean Smith’s side had just the man for the occasion.
How the penalties unfolded
- 0-0 – Holgate missed for West Brom – saved by Steer to goalkeeper’s left
- 0-1 – Hourihane scored for Villa – drilled low and hard into corner
- 0-1 – Hegazi missed for West Brom – saved by Steer to goalkeeper’s right
- 0-2 – Jedinak scored for Villa – sidefooted into corner, sending goalkeeper wrong way
- 1-2 – Adarabioyo scored for West Brom – calmly found bottom corner
- 1-3 – Grealish scored for Villa – sent goalkeeper wrong way
- 2-3 – Gibbs scored for West Brom – placed effort in bottom corner
- 2-3 – Adomah missed for Villa – blazed well over the crossbar
- 3-3 – Morrison scored for West Brom – fired into corner past Steer’s right hand
- 3-4 – Abraham scored for Villa – Johnstone got foot to low penalty but could not keep it out and Villa’s place at Wembley was confirmed