Villa defeat ten-man West Brom on penalties to seal Wembley berth


Dean Smith’s Aston Villa side booked their place at Wembley after defeating rivals West Brom on penalties at the Hawthorns.

Aston Villa brought a 2-1 lead into the second leg, after a Conor Hourihane long-range effort and a Tammy Abraham penalty cancelled out a Dwight Gayle opener at Villa Park. The West Brom forward later saw red, meaning he would miss the second leg and any potential final.

The game began with both sides cautious to throw too many men forward as the midfield battle eased the game in. Anwar El Ghazi in the claret and blue of Villa the man looking most likely to make something happen. It was the Dutchman who was involved in the first incident too, as West Brom fans and players questioned whether he had handled the ball in his own area and screamed for a penalty early in the half. But the referee correctly judged the ball to have come off his shoulder.

Villa carved out another opportunity soon after as John McGinn weaved his way past a number of challenges before feeding El Ghazi down the left. His cross was overhit but his opposite full back Ahmed Elmohamady lumped the ball back into the area as Tammy Abraham rose highest to send it goalwards, but the defence did enough to ensure the effort was off target.

The visitors continued to dominate the ball, McGinn and Jack Grealish influential in the middle as they probed in the West Brom half, patiently awaiting an opening.

But it was the home side who broke the deadlock, through a goal in which had the essence of former manager Tony Pulis. Mason Holgate launched a long throw into the box which was met by the head of the charging Craig Dawson. The defender directed his effort towards the goal and went in off the post as the ball evaded the efforts of three Villa defenders and Jed Steer in the goal.

Both sides continued the midfield battle, with Neil Taylor at left back looking to get forward. Jay Rodriguez found himself in space on a number of occasions, but to his frustration his teammates failed to find him with any real quality.

West Brom started the second half on the front foot, with both Jacob Murphy and Jay Rodriguez forcing Steer into good saves in the early proceedings. Villa struggled to get any control of the ball as West Brom sent wave after wave of attacks at the Villa goal, but failed to capitalise on a period of dominance.

The nerves of Jed Steer in the Villa goal seemed to take over all the players on the field, Grealish struggled to influence the game like he did in the first half whilst Hourihane was anonymous.

Chris Brunt went into the book for a cynical foul on McGinn, the two continuing their epic battle in midfield. Stefan Johansen went down injured and was replaced by James Morrison.

Neil Taylor also found himself in the book after a late tackle but a Kyle Bartley foul on Abraham inside the box meant the home side could not capitalise on their set piece opportunity.

Villa replaced Andre Green with Albert Adomah whilst West Brom took off Matt Phillips and sent Rekeem Harper on in his place.

Brunt was then given his marching order after the midfielder put in yet another late challenge on McGinn. The West Brom captain shown a second yellow card amongst little complaints from fans or his teammates.

Villa could not make the extra man count in normal time, with the full time whistle blown as West Brom led 1-0 so extra time awaited to seperate these Midlands rivals.

The visitors pushed on searching to finish the game before the lottery of penalties, Grealish and McGinn both flashing long-range shots well wide of Johnstone’s goal.

Despite their domination in extra time, the Villains couldn’t breach the Baggies defence as James Shan’s men held on to send the game to spot-kicks.

The home side took the unusual approach of having four defenders take their penalties whilst Villa called upon more attacking options in Grealish, Abraham and Adomah.

Jed Steer proved the hero for Villa as the 26-year-old saved from Mason Holgate and Ahmed Hegazi to put Villa on top before Adomah’s miss gave West Brom a slimmer of hope.

It was left down to Abraham, who scored from the spot in the first tie between the sides, to send former Villa keeper Johnstone the wrong way and his team to Wembley on the 27th May.


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