Belfast Telegraph

John Terry hails Villa spirit with Premier League place just one game away

Aston Villa 0-0 Middlesbrough

By Nick Mashiter

Aston Villa reached the Sky Bet Championship play-off final after a 1-0 aggregate win over Middlesbrough.

Steve Bruce's side claimed a 0-0 draw at Villa Park last night, despite a nervy finale, to progress following their 1-0 victory at the Riverside on Saturday.

They will face Fulham - who beat Derby on Monday - in the final at Wembley on Saturday week as they look to end a two-year Premier League exile.

Villa's veteran defender John Terry said: "It was two very good performances.

"The boys were different class. It was important we didn't concede. Another clean sheet is very good. The gameplan was superb so the manager deserves a lot of credit for that.

"There's a great team spirit among the boys. One more step and it'll be the dream.

"Boro are a very good side... (Adama) Traore is a big threat but (Alan) Hutton was superb over the two legs."

Villa playmaker Jack Grealish added: "We fought hard tonight. Now we're looking forward to the final.

"I put a lot of my good form lately down to this guy (Terry) and I thank him for that.

"It's all to play for at Wembley. It's a one-off game. With the quality in our team, we've got enough to go at them (Fulham)."

Boro spent around £50million in search of an instant return to the Premier League but sacked Garry Monk after just over six months in charge. Replacement Tony Pulis took them to fifth but they now face another season in the second tier.

In a game short on clear chances, Conor Hourihane headed off the line from Boro's Ryan Shotton while at the other end, Darren Randolph saved from Lewis Grabban.

Stewart Downing's free-kick hit the bar late on for Boro - after Villa keeper Sam Johnstone was lucky to escape a red card for handball outside the area.

But Mile Jedinak's first-leg header settled a tie which Villa rarely looked like losing.

Their early energy was contrasted by Boro's nerves and the visitors survived when Hourihane charged down Randolph's clearance.

James Bree had already shot wide during Villa's bright start as they tried to kill the tie off.

Slowly, though, Boro gained momentum without opening Villa up in a scrappy first half-hour.

Villa survived a scare with three minutes left when Johnstone was only booked for handling Traore's shot outside the area and Downing hit the bar from the resulting free-kick.

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