The day is here. Aston Villa’s fight for promotion back to the Premier League came down to a showdown against Derby.
Dean Smith choose Hourihane and Adomah for the starting lineup over Whelan and Green.
The nerves grew into kickoff and the Queen Vic bar in Washington DC was standing room only. Typing at the bar means typos. I don’t apologize for that.
The opening minutes were slow and tense — as is expected at such a huge match.
The first chance fell to Villa off the first corner of the match. The Grealish corner found Axel Tuanzebe’s feet but the defender couldn’t manage to get his left foot to connect with a shot. The net was open, but it was not to be.
Minutes later Jack Grealish bought a ticket with a shot from outside the box. He was open and should have put it on target. But he did not.
Villa continued to control the match in terms of possession and chances but the first twenty minutes saw no breakthrough.
Derby grew into the match after the opening period. El Ghazi picked up an early yellow card for a shirt pull. The ensuing free kick was thankfully terrible.
It was Derby on top of the match but Tammy Abraham (finally) got involved just after the half an hour mark. He ran at the defense who just backed off. But the striker couldn’t keep the shot on target.
Derby, on the other hand, put their first chance on target. It was Mount off a Bogle pass. But Jed Steer easily caught it.
But then it was a moment of magic just short of the break Elmo with a cross from the right and El Ghazi with a bit of fortune on the header — which found the side netting. And Aston Villa was in the lead and took it to the break.
Out of the break it was a few half small chances (writers note: I had more detail here but I lost 45-80 mins writing on the phone).
Aston Villa doubles their lead with another bit of fortune. El Ghazi continued to control the left side. He cut inside and fired a shot it was deflected and looped toward the goal. John McGinn challenges for the ball and either got a tough or distrusted the keeper — either way ball in net and Villa up 2-0.
Derby made a pair of subs, Mings looked to be struggling with a hamstring. Green on for Adomah.
The things got tense. Derby push and pushed and and found their first goal.
Hause on for Mings.
Then seven minutes were added. And I started yelling the f-word. Derby pushed. Villa fans sweated.
Steer caught a looping header.
Time slowed down.
Derby was offside.
Steer caught a cross.
The bar chanted ““Jed!”
And Aston Villa are going back to the Premier League!!