Aston Villa beat West Bromwich Albion 4-3 on penalties on Tuesday May 14th to reach the play-off final. After Villa won the first-leg 2-1, the Baggies levelled the tie by winning the second-leg 1-0, sending the game into extra-time and eventually penalties.
West Brom started the game strongly as Jay Rodriguez looked lively, playing in the false nine role in the absence of suspended striker Dwight Gayle. The home side were rewarded for their fast start as they took the lead just before the half hour mark. Mason Holgate’s long throw-in was headed into the net via the post by Craig Dawson to bring the tie level on aggerate.
As the first-half came to a close the game was intense, but neither side were finding a clear-cut opportunity. Villa began to put pressure on West Brom early in the second-half with a succession of corners, but the home side’s defence held firm. The visitors nearly doubled their lead just before the hour mark as a mistake from goalkeeper Jed Steer lead to Jacob Murphy having a goal-bound shot blocked on the line by Tyrone Mings.
In the 63rd minute, Matt Phillips headed over from a corner before Chris Brunt fired an effort wide of the goal soon after. Brunt was sent-off for a second bookable offence in the 80th minute after a foul on John McGinn. West Brom goalkeeper, Sam Johnstone, produced a magnificent save to deny Albert Adomah in the 88th minute, as the host held on to take the game to extra-time.
Despite the Baggies playing with 10-men, Villa were finding it difficult to create clear opportunities. Substitute Keinan Davis headed straight at Johnstone in the 117th minute in what seemed the only real opening.
As the game went to penalties, West Brom missed their first two with Holgate and Ahmed Hegazi having their spot-kicks saved by Steer. Adomah missed the penalty for Villa to give the hosts hope, but Tammy Abraham, on loan from Chelsea, scored the winning penalty to put his side in the play-off final. They are due to face the winner of Leeds United vs Derby who are set to play on Wednesday 15th May.
Aston Villa head coach, Dean Smith, spoke to Sky Sports after the game and said his side had been practicing penalties. "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.”
West Brom’s caretaker boss, Jimmy Shan, also spoke to Sky Sports and praised his players and fans despite the defeat. "The boys have put everything into that tonight, the fans too," he said. "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.”