Aston Villa v Middlesbrough: Championship play-off semi-final

Steve Bruce explains how a change in Aston Villa's recruitment policy is helping them in the play-offs

Elmohamady has won promotion to the Premier League twice before with Hull City and will hope to make it three from three with Aston Villa this season. "Hopefully, we can do the same again - go in with a winning mentality, and get through to Wembley".

"It was always going to be tough but what has got us through is our defence over two games".

Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis was left to rue a lack of cutting edge after they failed to register a single shot on target against Aston Villa.

Villa's home record was third-best behind promoted Wolves and Cardiff and Grealish referred to the atmosphere in March when four were put past Wolves. The playoff final will be held at Wembley Stadium on May 26. Another clean sheet in two games, so very good.

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 Championship play-offs are nothing if not gloriously unpredictable and even the most optimistic Fulham fan won't be getting too giddy just yet. The league game at Villa was drawn.

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Part of Villa's confidence will stem from the stat that they have not lost a game this season in which they have taken the lead.

Boro spent around £50million in the summer to chase an instant return to the Premier League after last year's relegation, but came up short. After the tension came the overwhelming relief and unbridled joy for Aston Villa.

The 0-0 draw on Tuesday night extended the run without a home win to 13 games now and it could be a couple more years before another game to get a victor with Villa now one win away from the Premier League.

Middlesbrough, meanwhile, are 5/2 (3.5) to win the second leg - the ideal time to get their first victory against the Midlanders since 2008.

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