The 2017-18 Championship regular season is already over but the clubs finished within third to sixth have still a lot to play for in order to attain a Premier League promotion by winning the playoff. The other semi-final resulted in a 1-0 victory for the hosts Derby County over Fulham but the Saturday evening clash between Middlesbrough and Aston Villa has been a battle of two old warhorses – Tony Pulis and Steve Bruce.
The first leg fixture at Riverside Stadium was going to be a monumental task for the Villans against a team managed by Tony Pulis at his home but the season-long scintillating run made them confident of clinching a favourable outcome and they clinched a stunning 1-0 win on the road from a difficult away trip.
Below are the Aston Villa players rated in their sensational win against Middlesbrough.
Sam Johnstone: 7
Made a couple of crucial stops but did not find it hard to retain clean-sheet thanks to his side’s defensive resilience.
Ahmed El Mohamady: 8
Was spot on while tackling and making interceptions and also offered his presence high up the pitch with overlap runs, long balls and crosses from the right flank. Was replaced by Glenn Whelan in closing minutes.
James Chester: 7.5
The Welsh international impressed with his no-nonsense defending as he kept on making clearances one after another.
John Terry: 8.5
The Chelsea legend led his side by example as he not only kept on making clearances, blocks, and interceptions but also guided the Villans to defend an early lead away from home at such a crucial stage of the campaign.
Alan Hutton: 8
Balanced his defensive work-rate with attacking contribution and although troubled against Adama Traore at times, he used his experience well to ease off the pressure and helped his side to grind out a win.
Mile Jedinak: 8.5
The Australian skipper made the difference between two admirable Championship forces when his towering header ended up into the back of the net in early minutes of the game. He was combative deep down the midfield and screened his backline with tireless effort.
Robert Snodgrass: 7.5
Saw his effort hit the woodwork late in the first-half but kept on using the channels and had an eye for creating chances inside the box. Missed a few opportunities but kept the Boro defence on their toes throughout the game.
Conor Hourihane: 6
Mostly confined himself in a deeper midfield role to defend the lead, therefore, allowed the hosts controlling the midfield game, especially after the break.
Jack Grealish: 9
The youngster is finally leaving up to the expectations with majestic performances week in week out and once again terrorized the Boro backline with his dribbling traits, powerful runs, physical supremacy and movements in and around the box. His perfectly placed corner was masterly converted by Jedinak to earn his side a massive victory on the road in the semi-final first leg fixture.
Albert Adomah: 7
Created a few opportunities down the left flank with crosses, cut insides and link-up play before being replaced by Jonathan Kodjia in the second half.
Lewis Grabban: 6.5
Saw his only effort on target denied by Randolph in Boro goal and failed to continue his great scoring streak due to lack of opportunities inside the box. Was replaced by Bjarnason late in the game.
Jonathan Kodjia: 6
Offered presence in a deeper role in the left-hand flank to deal with the opponents’ pressure who were thriving for an equalizer late in the game.
Birik Bjarnason: 6
Played his part to protect the lead since coming on in place of Grabban.
Glenn Whelan: NA
Played too little to warrant a rating.