Aston Villa XI: Steer, Elmohamedy, Tuanzebe, Mings, Taylor, Whelan, McGinn, Grealish, El Ghazi, Adomah, Abraham.
West Bromwich Albion XI: Johnstone, Holgate, Dawson, Hegazi, Bartley, Gibbs, Johansen, Brunt, Phillips, Gayle, Rodriguez.
|Aston Villa recovered from a terrible start to the regular season to finish in fifth place, after Dean Smith took the helm when they were in 15th. However to make the playoff final once again, Villa must overcome a WBA side that they have failed to beat in both meetings this term (D1, L1).|
|Not a team to mess about, a majority of Villa’s league victories this season have come by at least a two-goal-margin (55%), although they have not achieved that at Villa Park in any of their last four outings.|
|Only two Championship sides have scored more than Villa’s 82 goals this league campaign, whilst of those goals, a sizeable 60.98% of them came here at Villa Park. However one of those two teams that bagged more than the ‘Villains’ goal tally was their Midlands neighbours WBA (87), although just 39.08% of their goals arrived on the road.|
|Despite the fact WBA are unbeaten in four of their last five Championship matches (W3, D1, L1), they are winless in four away from home (D1, L3). A worrying trend for the ‘Baggies’ is that they have conceded at least twice in five of their last seven away games (2.0 conceded per match average).|
|Players to watch: Fully rested over the weekend, Villa’s top-scorer Tammy Abraham (25 goals) returns to the fray – nine of his goals were the match opener. Meanwhile, WBA’s Dwight Gayle (23) is without a goal in three matches, after scoring six in his three prior appearances.|
|Stat attack: Thirteen of Villa’s last 15 Championship home games have produced over 2.5 total goals.|
|Both sides have each received 13 yellow cards and one red across the last six H2Hs (2.33 cards per match average).|
|Four of WBA’s last six matches have produced over 3.5 total goals. [Flashscore]|
3′ The home side are really asserting their dominance early on at Villa Park, and Glenn Whelan almost opens the scoring, but his glancing header just flies over the bar.
5′ Adomah gets in behind the West Brom back-line, but the Ghanaian just strayed offside.
7′ Seven minutes played at Villa Park, and it’s all Aston Villa thus far.
9′ Adomah finds space juust outside the box as he picks up a pass from Almohamedy, but his effort flies well wide of the left-hand post.
11′ CHANCE! Jay Rodriguez comes so close to opening the scoring at Villa park, but his curling effort is tipped onto the bar by Jed Steer. What an excllent piece of goalkeeping.
13′ Aston Villa are awarded a free-kick in a rather dangerous position as El Ghazi is fouled by Mason Holgate.
15′ CHANCE! Elmohamedy picks out Tammy Abraham with a delightful ball into the box, but Abraham just couldn’t keep his effort down.
16′ GOAL!! Villa are made to pay the price as Glenn Whelan loses possession, as Dwight Gayle is put clean through on goal, and he fires the ball past Sam Johnstone to give the visitors the lead.
23′ El Ghazi starts a dangerous run down the left-hand side, but the move is halted by Kyle Bartley who puts in an excellent challenge.
34′ A moment of vulnerability once again from the hosts as West Brom look to catch Villa on the break, but Villa just manage to clear the ball away for a corner.
36′ El Ghazi causes more problems down the left wing as he whips in a delightful ball, but Hegzy’s on hand to head the ball away.
44′ We expect a hefty amount of additional time at the end of the first-half at Villa Park after a lengthy stoppage.
45′ – The fourth official has awarded a minimum of five minutes additional time at the end of the first-half.
HALF-TIME: Aston Villa 0-1 West Bromwich Albion
Dwight Gayle’s 16th-minute strike seperates the two sides at the break. In the first 15-minutes, it was all Villa as the home side were the more likely to get a breakthrough, but after a defensive lapse from Villa, Dwight Gayle was on hand to fire the ball past a helpless Jed Steer.
50′ Villa appeal for a penalty as Adomah’s cross struck the body of Chris Brunt.
60′ Anwar El-Ghazi unleashes a decent effort towards goal, but his effort just goes wide of the left-hand post.
62′ Dwight Gayle goes into the book for time-wasting.
63′ Gayle is lucky not to be dismissed after commiting a foul just seonds after being booked for time-wasting.
65′ El-Ghazi plays a hopeful ball into the West Bromwich Albion box, but it’s just too strong as Sam Johnstone in the Aston Villa goal picks up the ball.
67′ Aston Villa make a double-substitution as Glenn Whelan and Albert Adomah make way for Conor Hourihane and Andre Green. Jacob Murphy replaces Matt Phillips for West Brom.
70′ Anwar El-Ghazi picks out John McGinn, but McGinn’s touch was too heavy, and the opportunity evaporates.
75′ GOAL!! Aston Villa have their equaliser at Villa Park as substitute Conor Hourihane fires home a fantastic drilled effort from the edge of the box following some great work from Jack Grealish to find his feet to pick out Hourihane.
78′ PENALTY! Aston Villa are awarded a penalty.
78′ GOAL!! Tammy Abraham converts from the spot as he strokes the ball past Sam Johnstone to give the hosts the lead.
83′ West Brom have a big shout for a penalty as Mason Holgatappeared to be shoved in the back by Tammy Abraham.
84′ West Brom make a change as James Morrison is on to replace Stefan Johansen.
88′ RED CARD Dwight Gayle receives his marching orders as he goes in on Jed Steer in the Aston Villa goal.
90+1′ Anwar El-Ghazi makes way for Jonathan Kodjia.
90+6′ CHANCE! Andre Green with a great chance to put the tie to bed, but he fires his shot wide of Johnstone’s right post.
FULL-TIME: Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
Aston Villa turn the tie on its head following a well-earned 2-1 victory over neighbours West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park. Villa substitute Conor Hourihane levelled the tie up at 1-1 with a fantastic strike on the edge of the box, and just minutes later, Jack Grealish was involved again as he was fouled in the penalty area by Kieran Gibbs. Tammy Abraham was on hand to poke home the spot-kick to secure a precious victory.
West Brom’s talismanic figure Dwight Gayle received a red card in the 88th minute for a challenge on Villa’s goalkeeper Jed Steer, and he’ll be sorely missed in the second leg.
"He's too good for the league"— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 11, 2019
Conor Hourihane hails man of the match Jack Grealish as Villa take a 2-1 lead to West Brom in the play-off semi-finals.
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