Fulham promoted to the Premier League after 1-0 win over Aston Villa

Fulham promoted to the Premier League after 1-0 win over Aston Villa

samstraw
Sam Straw
FulhamBettinelli, Fredericks (Christie, min. 83), Odoi, Ream, Targett, Cairney, McDonald, Johansen (Norwood, min. 72), Kamara (Kalas, min. 77), Mitrović, Sessegnon.
Aston VillaJohnstone, El Mohamady (Kodjia, min. 77), Chester, Terry, Hutton, Jedinak (Onomah, min. 77), Snodgrass, Hourihane (Hogan, min. 82), Grealish, Adomah, Grabban.
SCORE1-0, min. 22, Cairney.
REFEREEAnthony Taylor.
INCIDENTSChampionship Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium.
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I'll be back soon - stay tuned for the match report, and much more to come on VAVEL UK as the football never stops!

I've been Sam Straw, and I hope you enjoyed following tonight's events in the Championship play-offs, apologies once again for the technical difficulties. 

As for Villa, they will have to do it all again in the Championship next season. Bruce is set to have a big job on his hands with the wage bill at Villa Park needing to be cut in order to not fall foul of Financial Fair Play regulations, meaning that many of their star performers are likely to be sold. 

Due to technical difficulties, the in-game updates for this match have been lost. However, it was the Cottagers who came out on top in the play-off final, courtesy of a low strike from Cairney. They will be competing with the big boys in the top flight next season. 

Full-Time: Fulham 1-0 Aston Villa - The Cottagers are promoted to the Premier League!

16.14. Did you know? This is the first time in 43 years that a Fulham first-team squad have had a match at Wembley. It will be interesting to see how they perform on the big stage. You would think that their style of play would be even more effective on the bigger pitch, due to the space it gives the likes of Sessegnon to utilise. 

16.13. So both teams have named their strongest starting line-ups for this one. No surprise there. 

Fulham Substitutes: Button, Kalas, Christie, Norwood, Ayite, Piazon, Fonte. 

Fulham Starting Line-Up: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Odoi, Ream, Targett, McDonald, Cairney (c), Johansen, Kamara, Mitrovi?, Sessegnon.

Aston Villa Substitutes: Bunn, Bree, Whelan, Bjarnason, Onomah, Hogan, Kodjia. 

Aston Villa Starting Line-Up: Johnstone, Elmohamady, Chester, Terry (c), Hutton, Snodgrass, Jedinak, Hourihane, Adomah, Grealish, Grabban. 

16.07. The team sheets are in at Wembley as the countdown to kick-off begins...

And finally, last but by far not least, Callum Doughty has analysed the recent meetings between these two sides. They have normally been tight affairs, with both sides picking up a win on their home turf this season. However, today's game is the one that matters - who will come out on top? 

We've already mentioned how important Sessegnon has been for the Cottagers this season but I took an in-depth look at why he has been such a success this season. His success has not gone unnoticed with a number of Premier League sides such as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur understood to be interested in signing the youngster this season. But will the outcome of this evening's match have a part to play in what he decides to do? 

VAVEL UK report Chris Lincoln took a look at the importance of Jedinak in this Villa side and the role he has played in getting his side into this position. The 33-year-old has started less than half of Villa's second-half but "showed his quality in an impeccable play-off semi-final second leg defensive performance" against Middlesbrough. Hard to disagree with that. 

Matthew Wojciow took an in-depth look at Fulham's road to Wembley, with Jamie Joslyn examining Villa's route to the final. Impossible to argue that they don't deserve to be here... 

Fulham and Aston Villa undoubtedly have two of the best squads in the division, hence why they're here today - but how would they fit into one XI? Our man Callum Doughty had his say on a Fulham-Villa combined eleven. Six Fulham players, five Villa. Let us know what you think. 

At VAVEL we've had plenty of pre-match analysis ahead of today - one of the biggest football events of the year. Here's a sample of some of the best...

Did you know? Today's match is said to be worth an estimated £280 million if whoever wins manages to survive one season in the top flight. No pressure then...

They managed to get the better of Tony Pulis' Middlesbrough side in a very tight and uneventful play-off semi-final tie. Villa managed to win the first leg at the Riverside Stadium courtesy of a Jedinak header after just 15 minutes. They then managed to keep Boro out for another 90 minutes at Villa Park in the second leg, to win the tie 1-0 on aggregate. If they can produce a similar defensive performance in this one, it could be very difficult for Fulham to find any space to work with. 

In their final seven games of the regular campaign, they picked up four wins, one draw and two defeats. However, Bruce did rest a couple of his key players towards the end of the season to ensure that they did not suffer any injuries ahead of the play-offs. 

The Villans did tail off slightly at the end of March which ultimately cost them a chance to compete for automatic promotion in the last few weeks of the season. Back-to-back defeats to Queens Park Rangers and Bolton Wanderers, followed by a goalless draw to Hull City, resulted in Villa finding themselves nine points of Cardiff and all-but ended their chances of pushing themselves into the top two. 

Following the turn of the year, Bruce's side really seemed to step-up and start producing good performances on a regular basis. They won all but two of their league matches throughout January and February, only dropping points in a 2-0 defeat to today's opponents Fulham, and also in a 1-1 draw with Preston North End. An impressive 4-2 win against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough at the end of February saw them sat third in the league, just one point off Cardiff in second. 

They have managed to remain relatively consistent throughout the entire campaign. November was a particularly good month for the Villans as they picked up four wins in five league matches, losing the other 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday at Villa Park. However, they did take a dip in form in December as they won just one of six league matches. This came in the form of a vital 1-0 win away at Middlesbrough at the end of month to end their poor run of results. 

As for Villa, they also had a relatively slow start to the season, similarly to the Cottagers. They also only managed one win in their opening five league matches in August, and were also hammered 3-0 by Cardiff at the Cardiff City Stadium in Wales. It was not the most convincing start to the season but they did pick up towards the end of September with four wins in a row, scoring a number of goals in the process. 

This was not the case in the second leg. They took the game to the Rams from the very first whistle and deservedly secured their place at Wembley. Sessegnon had a key role to play in the turnaround, as he scored shortly after half-time to level things up on aggregate before he assisted Denis Odoi's winner. This win was in fact the Cottagers' first even win in a play-off match. They will be hoping that they can back that up with another victory this evening in the one that matters most. 

However, they did lot their disappointment from missing out on automatic promotion creep into their play-off semi-final encounter against Derby County. There were questions asked of their character as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at Pride Park in the first leg courtesy of Cameron Jerome's first half header. It was a poor performance from the Cottagers as they were left frustrated by Gary Rowett's side. 

Following Fulham's 2-1 win over relegation threatened Barnsley at Craven Cottage on December 23, no-one could have predicted what was to follow. The Cottagers went on a remarkable 24-game unbeaten run which ended on the final day of the season with a 3-1 defeat against Birmingham City. This run of form resulted in Jokanovi?'s side going from mid-table, to missing out on automatic promotion to the top flight by just two points. 

Their results remained very inconsistent right up until the Christmas period. However, they were involved in one of the most remarkable matches of the Championship season in November, as they won 5-4 away at promotion rivals Sheffield United. 18-year-old forward Sessegnon scored a hat-trick on the night as Sheyi Ojo also picked up a brace in what was an astonishing night at Bramall Lane. This performance set a benchmark for the rest of the season in regards to how good the Cottagers could be going forward. 

It has been statistically proven that a play-off defeat can result in a slow start the following season, and this was certainly the case for Fulham. They only won one of their opening five Championship games in August, a 2-0 win over Ipswich Town at Portman Road, which saw them stat in mid-table in the division. 

So how exactly did Fulham and Aston Villa get here...

Of course it would be wrong to focus solely on Terry's efforts this season, as Bruce has created a real unit at Villa Park, even though the defender is a key component. Bruce has built a squad with experience and quality available in every position. The likes of Mile Jedinak, Robert Snodgrass and Lewis Grabban are just a few others that have made vital contributions in the latter stages of the campaign. Bruce managed to lure the 37-year-old to Villa Park when he left Premier League side Chelsea last summer, and he has played a key role in Villa securing a place in the play-offs this season. The experienced defender has received a lot of media attention in the build-up to this match due to speculation that he will not feature against his former club should Villa secure promotion and come up against them next season. However, there are a lot of things that need to happen before that.

But who better to stifle Fulham's attacking talent than Aston Villa? They have one of the best defensive records in the division having only conceded 42 goals in the regular season. Only Wolves (39) and Cardiff (39), conceded fewer goals than the Villans. A key reason behind their resolute defence this season has been John Terry.

Many people would argue that the Cottagers are one of the most entertaining sides to watch in the division. They have a lot of quality throughout their side with the likes of Ryan Sessegnon, Tom Cairney and Aleksandar Mitrovi? being among their star performers throughout this season. Only Wolverhampton Wanderers (82), have scored more goals than Fulham this season, as they found the back of the net a whopping 79 times in the regular season, which was a key reason why they pushed Cardiff City very close in the race for the final automatic promotion spot. 

They face a Fulham team that have been knocking on the door of the Premier League for the last two seasons. The Cottagers came close last season as they eventually came up short in the play-off semi-finals as they were knocked out by Jaap Stam's Reading side over two legs. Yann Kermorgant scored a vital penalty in the second leg at the Madejski Stadium which proved to be enough to secure the Royals a spot at Wembley.  

It has been a tough ride for Aston Villa in recent times following their relegation from the Premier League in the 2015/16 campaign as they finished rock bottom of the division. However, ever since they appointed Steve Bruce as manager, they have become more consistent and now have the opportunity to return to the top flight after just two years away. Villa are one of only five English clubs to have won the European Cup in their history, having lifted the trophy in 1982, and they will be hoping that victory this evening could be the start of a new era of success. 

Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK's live minute-by-minute coverage of tonight's Championship Play-Off Final between Fulham and Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium. The game gets underway at 5.00pm, but stick around until then because we'll have plenty of build-up to keep you entertained. 

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