West Brom 1-0 Aston Villa AET (2-2 agg): Villa creep into Championship play-off final after a nerve-rackingly close 4-3 win on penalties.
It certainly wasn’t a trademark victory, but it got the job done and that’s all that matters for Villa players and fans, who have booked themselves a place in the play-off final against either Leeds United or Derby County (most likely Leeds; Derby love a bottle, don’t they?).
Craig Dawson added the only goal on Tuesday night to level things up for the Baggies and send the fixture all the way to penalties, even with the added challenge of competing with 10 men – having seen the experienced Chris Brunt stupidly get sent off after 79 minutes.
Hero Jed Steer then saved two penalties for Villa, while Tammy Abraham, on loan from Chelsea and unlikely to taste Premier League football in claret and blue, was on hand to dispatch the all-important final penalty to send his side to the famous arches of Wembley for the second consecutive season.
Despite losing the game in normal time without a goal to their name, it’s hard to look past the efforts of Jack Grealish, who thoroughly deserves our Unsung Hero award today.
If there’s one thing Grealish does immensely well, it’s committing himself to dangerous runs through the opposition, and this particular trait was in full force on Tuesday night. The Villa man regularly won free-kicks in dangerous places that his teammates failed to capitalise on, and when the going got tough, he remained in the position to give his side an all-important boost.
Leading by example, Grealish stepped up and converted his penalty to help his side win the scrappy tie and reach the play-off final again. Indeed, penalty hero Jed Sterr will get many of the plaudits, but it was his captain who led the side to victory.
Should Villa fail to secure Premier League football, or even if they do, we imagine they face a tough task holding onto the young midfielder this summer.
Villa fans, do you agree with our selection? How important is Grealish to your club and its future? Let us know in the comments below!
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