Aston Villa (1) 0-0 (0) Middlesbrough: Goalless draw secures Villa a trip to Wembley

Aston Villa (1) 0-0 (0) Middlesbrough: Goalless draw secures Villa a trip to Wembley

Aston Villa are heading to the play-off final after a goalless draw against Middlesbrough in the Championship on Tuesday night.

samstraw
Sam Straw
Aston VillaJohnstone, Bree, Chester, Terry, Hutton, Jedinak, Snodgrass, Hourihane (Whelan, min. 85), Grealish, Adomah (Bjarnason, min. 90+1), Grabban (Kodjia, min. 79).
Middlesbrough Randolph, Shotton (Fabio, min. 82), Fry, Gibson, Friend, Howson (Gestede, min. 73), Clayton, Besic, Traoré, Assombalonga (Bamford, min. 68), Downing.
REFEREEMike Dean.
INCIDENTSChampionship Play-Off Semi-Final Match Played At Villa Park Stadium. 40,505 Spectators.

Aston Villa are heading to Wembley after a goalless draw with Middlesbrough in their Championship play-off semi-final second leg at Villa Park on Tuesday night to win the tie 1-0 on aggregate. 

Hourihane comes closest in first half

Both managers opted to make just the one change ahead of this match, with both being forced. Steve Bruce selected James Bree in his starting line-up, as he came in for the injured Ahmed Elmohomady

As for Boro, Tony Pulis opted to bring in Dael Fry for Daniel Ayala, after 27-year-old centre-back was forced off through injury during the first leg at the Riverside on Saturday evening. 

This match was predicted by many to be a very tight and cagey affair due to the style of play of both sides. This was evident in the opening minutes of the game as they both looked to settle themselves into it with neither creating any clear-cut chances. 

Boro did experience a nervous moment with around 10 minutes played. Darren Randolph was quickly closed down by Conor Hourihane who managed to block the keeper's clearance. Luckily for Randolph, it did not end up in the back of his net and was cleared to safety. 

Albert Adomah has been a vital player for the Villans throughout this season and he was their brightest spark in the first half. He found Hourihane in the area with just under 20 minutes played but the midfielder's shot was tame and straight at Randolph. 

Despite the fact they had the better chances in the opening period, Boro did look a threat to the hosts, especially when they caught them on the counter attack. Adama Traoré got into dangerous positions down the right-hand side on a number of occasions, but his final ball was letting him down. 

The biggest moment in the first half came around 10 minutes before the break. Adomah was again the architect for the hosts down the left as he passed the ball across the area towards Hourihane. 

However, just when it looked certain that the 27-year-old midfielder would put his side ahead on the night, he was denied by a superb challenge from George Friend

Aston Villa (1) 0-0 (0) Middlesbrough. (picture: Getty Images / Clive Mason)
Aston Villa (1) 0-0 (0) Middlesbrough. (picture: Getty Images / Clive Mason)

Villa hold out to secure Wembley trip

It was Boro who had the first significant opening in the second half. Muhamed Bešić charged towards goal but his eventual shot on the edge of the box went wide of the target. On reflection, the midfielder should have perhaps played Downing in down the left-hand side rather than shooting himself. 

Despite this effort, it was Villa who looked more likely to add to their aggregate lead. Jack Grealish was again instrumental for the hosts as he played Adomah in down the left. However, Lewis Grabban's prodded effort from Adomah's cross was kept out by Randolph. 

The likes of Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede were introduced by Pulis in the latter stages of the match, but neither had much of an impact. 

It was instead Grealish who came close again for Villa as he tried his luck with a curling strike from range but he was again kept out by Randolph, much to the frustration of the home crowd. 

The away side may have counted themselves unfortunate in the latter stages as a long ball caused Villa problems and resulted in Sam Johnstone handling outside his area. However, referee Mike Dean deemed it only to be worthy of a yellow card.

To add to Boro's frustration, Stewart Downing's effort from the resulting free-kick cannoned back off the crossbar which was the closest the away side came to forcing the tie into extra-time. 

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