Aston Villa have made it to the Premier League after beating Derby County by a 2-1 scoreline at the Championship play-off finals held in Wembley.
Even royalty found the game nerve twisting. The Duke of Cambridge, an Aston Villa fan sat with his head held in his hands, anxiety etched in his face as it looked like Derby County could stage a comeback as the clock ticked down the final seconds of the game but it was Villa who finished stronger.
Villa upheld the scoreline to return to the Premier League after three years away from England’s top-flight.
Goals by Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn – aided by some defensive gaffe – meant that Villa manager Dean Smith completed a remarkable turnaround to take them back to the big league even if they had to resist a late, dramatic Derby comeback.
For Derby, under the tutelage of Frank Lampard, it was a poor performance until he made a number of substitutions, which brought up questions about his first team selection. The decision to start veteran Tom Huddlestone backfired and goalkeeper Kelle Roos – who he had picked ahead of Scott Carson – gave him some troubles.
Villa controlled the first forty-five minutes of the encounter and deservedly got a goal. Jack Grealish played the ball infield to McGinn which the midfielder let run, in a kind of improvised fall, through to Conor Hourihane who quickly passed the ball on to Albert Adomah.
In turn Albert teed up Ahmed Elmohamady who swung in a superb cross which Anwar El Ghazi met perfectly to head beyond Roos. It looked like the goal was off El Ghazi’s back. Either way Villa were in front.
John McGinn then put Villa two goals up and a goal scored by Derby substitute Jack Marriott nine minutes from time could do nothing more than a consolation goal.