Villa hold off Boro to reach Championship playoff final

Ahmed Elmohamady “big doubt” for Middlesbrough clash

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

"We've given ourselves a good chance". The boys are different class.

"He goes home, is one of the first in, and you can see his fitness levels at 33 are quite remarkable and he has been terrific since I've been here".

Stewart Downing rattled the crossbar with a free-kick in the 88th minute, after Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone had perhaps been lucky not to be sent off for handling the ball outside the penalty area, but Villa were not to be denied.

"The teams that have finished third and fourth over a season have got to Wembley and that's justification, if anything", Pulis told Sky Sports.

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Manager Tony Pulis will be counting on his best player Adama Traore to inspire his side to success, but with the hosts bound to crowd out the Spanish winger like they did during the first leg, the Boro boss has a plan B for his attack.

"It was agony towards the end, if I'm being honest".

Villa held on to claim a draw on the night and victory overall, sparking wild celebrations as their fans flooded onto the pitch at fulltime.

Aston Villa and Middlesbrough face off later in the day in the return leg of the play-off semi-final.

Bruce has led two teams through the playoffs to the Premier League but expected a tight encounter against the Londoners. "There's still 90 minutes to play and anything can happen", he said. "We're going to Wembley, let's enjoy it".

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