Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Bruce: Villa were a mess after relegation

Bruce: Villa were a mess after relegation

"It was agony towards the end, if I'm being honest".

Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce admits he inherited a club in a "mess" after taking them to the Sky Bet Championship play-off final.

Fulham will take on Aston Villa, who secured their place in the final by holding on for a 0-0 draw tonight against Middlesbrough, winning 1-0 on aggregate thanks to a Mile Jedinak header in the first leg. It means so much.

Cheshire police confirmed earlier in the day that the former Trinidad and Tobago global had been killed when his Range Rover collided with a van early on Tuesday morning. Aged 37, Samuel pulled on a Villa shirt 199 times between 1999 and 2007 and it was a touching moment as his name reverberated around this famous stadium just before kick-off.

Despite their late escape, Villa were well worthy of their place in the final as Boro 'keeper Daniel Randolph kept the visitors in the tie for long spells.

The game itself was gripped with tension from the outset and there were periods in the first half when Villa seemed to be in danger of getting too caught up in the occasion.

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"It was intense. I think our game plan worked very well so the manager deserves a lot credit for that".

"There's a great team spirit among the boys".

Villa centre-back James Chester wasted the best chance of the first period when he hooked his shot wide from close range. It also marks a good result for Villa's Irish contingent as Conor Hourihane started while Glen Whelan came on.

There was a lack of goals here but no shortage of drama on a raucous night at Villa Park, with Stewart Downing's 88th-minute free-kick coming within the width of the crossbar of forcing extra-time.

But there was a huge scare when Adama Traore attempted to lift the ball over Sam Johnstone in the Villa goal, only for him to save with his hand - outside the box.

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