Middlesbrough ultimately came up short, however, and it is Villa, who were relegated from the Premier League two years ago, who have a shot at redemption.
Bruce was appointed in October 2016, with Villa 19th, and has previously questioned the mentality and ability of some players to handle the pressure.
Fulham await at Wembley on Saturday week after Villa, playing with resilience and courage, frustrated a Middlesbrough side who were left to rue the goal that Mile Jedinak headed in at the Riverside in the first leg.
"The boys were different class".
"It was intense. I think our game plan worked very well so the manager deserves a lot credit for that".
Boro boss Pulis know that there's a tricky challenge facing his side tonight, but isn't refusing to give up hope of making a comeback; "Villa are in the ascendency in the tie, we've got to go to Villa Park in front of a full house so that gives them the advantage".
Girl bit by bear gets dozens of internal, external stiches
The attack happened about 2:30 a.m on Sunday, when the child went outside to check on a noise she thought her dog had made. A five-year-old girl was attacked by a bear, bitten and dragged before the girl's mother scared off the animal.
What next for Iraq as cleric Sadr heads for election win?
Sadr has led two uprisings against United States forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shia leaders to distance himself from Iran. He is now calling for the latest deployment of American troops to leave following last year's defeat of the Islamic State group.