Aston Villa are off to Wembley thanks to a 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough on Tuesday evening.
Villa went into the second-leg knowing that a draw was all that they required to book themselves a place in the play-off final against Fulham, and they achieved this with yet another fine defensive display.
It was tense and unbearable at times, and Villa fans would have had their hearts in their mouths when Sam Johnstone handled the ball outside the box, but Mike Dean only deemed it worthy of a yellow. Things got tenser a minute later, when Downing took the resulting free-kick and hit the bar.
Middlesbrough had the majority of the possession, but it was Villa who had the best opportunities to improve their advantage. In fact, if it wasn’t for a string of fine saves by Randolph in Middlesbrough’s goal, the tie would have been over long before the above-mentioned incident.
Here are our Villa player ratings for yesterday’s match against Middlesbrough.
GK: Sam Johnstone - 7
Didn’t have much to do throughout the game, but he commanded his box extremely well and collected a number of crosses comfortably. Was lucky not to be sent off for handling the ball outside the box.
RB: James Bree - 6.5
Was a bit shaky to start with, but that’s acceptable considering how little he has played this season. Grew into the game and put in a solid defensive display.
CB: James Chester - 9
A fantastic performance from Villa’s player-of-the-season. Won a number of important headers and tackles, none more so than the one which stopped Assombalonga after he had eased past a group of his team-mates.
CB: John Terry - 8
Got stuck in, put his body on the line when needed, and marshaled his troops extremely well.
LB: Alan Hutton - 7.5
Was tasked again with keeping Traore quiet and, once again, he did a very good job.
RM: Robert Snodgrass - 7
Set the tempo early one with a crunching tackle and looked as determined as any player out there to win. He didn’t create as much as he’d have liked, but he certainly played his part defensively.
CM: Conor Hourihane - 7
Worked hard and did his best to keep the ball ticking over. Was unfortunate not to score when he got on the end of Adomah’s cutback.
CM: Mile Jedinak - 8.5
What a performance by the big Australian. He crunched into tackles, won a number of important headers, and marshaled the midfield. Completely dominant.
CM: Jack Grealish - 8.5
Another extremely impressive performance from the youngster. He barely lost the ball, he played sublime passes through to his team-mates, and won crucial fouls. Forced Randolph into a fine save late on.
LM: Albert Adomah - 7
Had a quiet first-half, but he came to life after the break, causing Middlesbrough all types of trouble down the left flank.
ST: Lewis Grabban - 7
Didn’t get much service but he stuck at it and gave Middlesbrough’s defence something to think about. He forced Randolph into two fine saves in the second-half.