I’m going to stop myself from recapping the match right now, because someone on this blog did it far better than I could. As I screamed in rapturous adulation upon the final whistle, Robb Jones recapped the game in a beautiful and personal essay.
Done? No? Get reading. If you are finished with that piece, let’s get on with the show.
The Manager’s Thoughts
Steve Bruce and Tony Xia reacted to the Boro Game. I won’t write it up, just watch them!
And here’s Brucey!
It’s all to play for!
Call me crazy, but I'm genuinely starting to get on the Grealish to Russia bandwagon... #AVFC— ''it was agony towards the end'' (@dvtavfc) May 15, 2018
GET HIM ON THE PLANE
Mask off. Mile on. The only goal of the semi-final came from the big man back in the first-leg.
Advantage #AVFC.— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) May 13, 2018
Mile's cracking header, a defensive masterclass and the rest of yesterday's highlights as we took a first-leg Play-Off lead at @Boro https://t.co/ogCkDzg8Ci#PartOfThePride pic.twitter.com/hXuWzwxyP7
Expected goals can tell us a fair bit about a match. Here’s an explainer. In the long term we can judge how well a team is doing in front of goal. On a match-by-match basis, we can simply judge chances, and how well they are taken.
Villa: 0.78 (0)
Middlesbrough: 0.33 (0)
Data provided by Infogol
Both teams fought hard, Boro couldn’t find a shot on target though. Villa were good value for a goal, but failed to find the target.
Goalscorers: No goalscorer today - but Jack Grealish scored in my heart
Big winners: Mile Jedinak bossed it for Villa once again, but Robert Snodgrass was a monster across the pitch.
Big losers: Adama Traore failed to make any impact at all. £30 million? Ok. Sam Johnstone also lost his head in a moment of madness alongside James Chester. Iron that out for Wembley lads.
Best moment: Breaking out into delight upon the final whistle. Que sera, sera...
Worst moment: Boro should have capitalised on a dire play between Sam Johnstone and James Chester that left the hearts of Villans firmly in their mouths. Sam was probably lucky not to be sent off, either.
Man of the Match: Robert Snodgrass. Drug test that man (after the play-off final). He was everywhere, pressing all over the pitch for Villa. He runs at turgid pace, but is a thinker on the ball and can pull off some wondrous moves at the drop of a hat.