EFL Reporter @simgholam
West Brom 1-0 Aston Villa AET (2-2 agg): Villa into Championship play-off final after 4-3 win on penalties
Craig Dawson scores only goal of second leg to level tie but Aston Villa hold nerve in shootout to reach Wembley for second consecutive season.
Last Updated: 15/05/19 9:14pm
Aston Villa are through to the Sky Bet Championship play-off final after beating West Brom 4-3 on penalties in the second leg of their semi-final at The Hawthorns.
Leading 2-1 from the first leg at Villa Park on Saturday, Craig Dawson scored the only goal on Tuesday night to level and send the tie all the way to penalties, even while finishing with 10 men - having seen Chris Brunt sent off after 79 minutes.
Jed Steer then saved two penalties for Villa, while Tammy Abraham converted the final kick to send his side to Wembley for the second consecutive season. They will face Leeds or Derby, who meet at Elland Road for their second leg on Wednesday night, with Leeds leading 1-0 on aggregate.
West Brom: Johnstone (8), Holgate (8), Dawson (8), Hegazi (7), Bartley (7), Gibbs (7), Johansen (7), Brunt (6), Phillips (6), Murphy (6), Rodriguez (6)
Subs: Morrison (6), Harper (6), Adarabioyo (n/a), Leko (n/a)
Aston Villa: Steer (8), Elmohamady (6), Mings (7), Tuanzebe (6), Taylor (6), McGinn (6), Grealish (6), Hourihane (7), Green (5), El Ghazi (6), Abraham (6)
Subs: Adomah (6), Kodjia (n/a), Davis (n/a), Jedinak (n/a)
Man of the match: Jed Steer
A tense affair at The Hawthorns
In a first half lacking genuine quality in the final third, it was unsurprising to see the breakthrough come from a set-piece after 29 minutes. Mason Holgate launched a long throw-in from the right that was latched onto by Dawson - who had been forced off at half-time due to illness in the first leg - and he showed admirable desire to evade his marker and head smartly past Steer.
West Brom boss James Shan just made one change from the first leg as Jacob Murphy came in for the suspended Dwight Gayle. For Aston Villa, Conor Hourihane and Andre Green started in front of Glenn Whelan and Albert Adomah.
Villa came out improved in the second half but the first big chance fell the way of West Brom after 54 minutes when Steer's attempted clearance dropped into the path of Jacob Murphy. The winger's attempt from the edge of the box was blocked by Tyrone Mings, and Jay Rodriguez then hit the rebound over the bar.
In fact, it took until the 68th minute for Villa to really test their former goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, and even that was only an effort from the edge of the area by Anwar El Ghazi, who saw his low effort towards the bottom corner denied by the West Brom stopper.
Just like in the first leg, West Brom would fail to complete the game with 10 men. Brunt had spent most of the night making heavy challenges on Villa's midfield trio, but one challenge too many on John McGinn saw him pick up his second booking with 11 minutes to go.
Villa then nearly stole the tie in the 87th minute as the ball dropped kindly for substitute Albert Adomah in the area, but his low drive was kept out brilliantly by Johnstone, diving low to his right to tip the ball wide. Villa huffed and puffed in extra-time but couldn't find any way through the West Brom rearguard, as they were limited almost entirely to shots from range.
Steer then saved early kicks from Mason Holgate and Ahmed Hegazi, while Conor Hourihane, Mile Jedinak and Jack Grealish all converted for Villa.
Penalty shoot-out - Aston Villa win 4-3
|West Brom||Aston Villa|
|Holgate - SAVED||Hourihane - SCORED|
|Hegazi - SAVED||Jedinak - SCORED|
|Adarabioyo - SCORED||Grealish - SCORED|
|Gibbs - SCORED||Adomah - MISSED|
|Morrison - SCORED||Abraham - SCORED|
Adomah then smashed Villa's fourth over the bar to add a bit of edge to proceedings and Kieran Gibbs scored to ensure it went all the way. But Abraham saw his weak penalty slip just past Johnstone to decide the tie.
Man of the match - Jed Steer
In truth it wasn't the best night for Steer until the shoot-out, and he was largely outperformed by his opposite number Johnstone - who made a number of fine saves late on for West Brom. But the Villa goalkeeper, who started the season by being sent on loan to Charlton, fully repaid the faith shown in him by Dean Smith with two excellent penalty saves to determine the course of the tie.
Dean Smith: "To be honest, we've worked very hard; from the day we knew we were in the play-offs, we started working on penalties.
"We've been doing this for four weeks: we had a plan of who would take them, and the goalkeeping coach works very hard with Jed Steer in terms of which way the opposition would go.
"Everybody knows the rewards by going and doing it [getting promoted] and it's going to be tough because they are two good teams, Leeds and Derby. Albion put up a really good defensive performance over the two games, made it difficult and that's why it ended up going to penalties."
Jimmy Shan: "The boys have put everything into that tonight, the fans too. I called on the boys to have application, a forward-thinking mentality, have a threat, for the fans to get behind us and both parties have done that. I thought we were good tonight.
"I think if you look how we finished the game, we lacked penalty takers on the pitch: Stefan [Johansen] would've taken one, Brunty [Chris Brunt] would've taken one, Matty [Phillips] would have taken one, Jay [Rodriguez] would have taken one.
"As the game's going on I'm thinking, just hang in there, but in reality I'm seeing that we haven't got natural penalty takers on the pitch."
Aston Villa progress to the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Monday May 27, with their opponents to be decided when Leeds and Derby meet on Wednesday evening. West Brom meanwhile, remain in the Championship for the 2019/20 season, which gets underway over the weekend of 2-4 August.