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ibusinesslines.com May 23, 2018


Steve Bruce: 'End of Championship playoff semi-final was agony'

16 May 2018, 06:26 | Charlene Valdez

Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce

Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce

Aston Villa secured their spot in the Championship play-off final, despite being held to a 0-0 draw by Middlesbrough at Villa Park on Tuesday.

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".


The match began with a minute's applause for former Villa defender Jlloyd Samuel who died earlier on Tuesday at the age of 37 in a auto accident.

However, Boro winger Stewart Downing almost forced extra time when he sent a free kick against the bar in the 88th minute of the second leg.

Tony Pulis has only won two of his previous nine away games against Aston Villa as a manager, although those wins have come in the past four trips (D4 L3).

"It irks me a little bit but the teams who finished third and fourth are going to Wembley and that's justification of what they've done over the season".

He said: "I think it's a disappointing decision from one of our top officials".

The Cottagers beat Derby County 2-0 last night (May 14) to book their place in the final, having narrowly missed out on automatic promotion on the last day of the season.

Bruce has led two teams through the playoffs to the Premier League but expected a tight encounter against the Londoners.



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