Villa holds off Middlesbrough to reach Championship playoff final

Reuters

Aston Villa sealed its place in the Championship playoff final after holding Middlesbrough at bay in a tense 0-0 draw at Villa Park on Tuesday that sent the Midlands club through 1-0 on aggregate.

Steve Bruce’s side will face Fulham in the final at Wembley as it looks to return to the Premier League from which it was relegated in 2016.

Having won the semifinal first leg 1-0 courtesy of a Mile Jedinak strike, Villa showed some organized defending to hold off Boro which was looking for an immediate return to the top flight.

At the heart of that defense was former Chelsea and England center back John Terry who joined the club last year on a free transfer and whose appointment as captain appears to have had a significant impact.

“(We’ve produced) Two very good performances away and at home tonight. The boys are different class. I think it was important in the first half that we did not concede. Another clean sheet and a great night,” Terry said.

“It was intense. I think our game plan worked very well so the manager deserves a lot credit for that. But the boys have been superb and we’re off to Wembley with one more to go.”

The match began with a minute’s applause for former Villa defender Jlloyd Samuel who died earlier on Tuesday at the age of 37 in a car accident.