Championship play-off match report West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa

Annette Crawford
May 15, 2019

West Brom's semi-final play-off defeat against Aston Villa on penalties on Tuesday night means that the club can start to plan for next season in the Championship, and Hughton's track record of winning two promotions from that division in the past, with Newcastle and then Brighton, makes him a strong candidate to oversee what will be a rebuilding job at the Hawthorns.

Villa, relegated in 2016, will hope to avoid a repeat of past year when they lost to Fulham in the playoff final. After West Brom won the second leg 1-0 to finish 2-2 on aggregate, penalties were used to decide the match after nobody scored in extra time.

"It's no good getting to Wembley and falling at the final hurdle again, so fingers crossed", Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, who converted his penalty, told Sky Sport. "I know his love lies with Aston Villa but he has to play at the highest possible level".

The hosts had Chris Brunt sent off with 10 minutes of normal time remaining but keeper Sam Johnstone made a stunning reflex save to deny Albert Adomah and take the tie into extra time. Their second leg is on Wednesday, with Leeds protecting a 1-0 lead at their Elland Road home. "We practice penalties, so I think I must've faced a 100 a day the last few days".

A nerve-racking penalty shoot-out ensued, with Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer proving the hero - making two straight saves from the spot before Tammy Abraham netted the decisive spot-kick.

Villa missed out in the playoff final previous year, losing 1-0 to Fulham and Grealish, who has been linked with a summer move to Tottenham, is keen to make amends in what could be his final game for the club.

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