Aston Villa have booked their 2019 play-off final ticket, by beating West Bromwich Albion 4-3 on penalties.
Dean Smith replaced Albert Adomah and Glenn Whelan with Conor Hourihane and Andre Green. Otherwise, he opted for the same side that beat WBA on Saturday.
After a poor display for the duration of normal and extra time, Villa lost the second leg 1-0. Their Midland rivals were reduced to ten men after Chris Brunt was sent off – but Jed Steer was the hero for Villa.
Saving the first two West Brom spot kicks, Steer’s miraculous performance between the sticks gave Tammy Abraham the opportunity to send Villa to Wembley. The Chelsea loanee did just that, as Villa scored their fourth penalty.
After Albert Adomah missed Villa’s penultimate spot kick, Abraham had the opportunity to end the contest for good, even though former Villa keeper Sam Johnstone was on top form.
The Albion stopper denied Adomah at the end of the second half from 12 yards, as the Ghanian struck the ball towards goal with some power. But the WBA goalkeeper was alert to the danger and eventually sent the game into an additional 30 minutes.
Without Jay Rodriguez substituted through fatigue, and Dwight Gayle and Hal Robson Kanu unavailable, Villa found themselves playing extra tie entirely in the WBA half. Though, without sufficient penetration in the final third, Villa did it the hard way.
As Steer saved the first two penalties he faced, Conor Hourihane and substitute Mile Jedinak converted. Skipper Jack Grealish was next to score for the Wembley bound side before Abraham made up for Adomah’s miss.
Dean Smith remained reserved post-match, making clear his disappointment to lose the game in normal time. He also recognised the bottle his side showed on the grand stage.
Aston Villa will look forward to a second Wembley trip, in a bid to avenge last years failures. They wait on the result of Leeds United v Derby County.