Championship play-off Final Preview


Prince William has been a Villa fan since his childhood, and he was spotted hugging the club's former striker John Carew as the final whistle blew following the 2-1 win over Derby County.

Mile Jedinak (R) celebrates Aston Villa's promotion with Conor Hourihane.

Jack Marriott came off the bench for Derby to ensure a nervous finish for Villa with a goal nine minutes from time but it could not prevent County from recording a playoff loss for the fourth time in six seasons.

Villa, European champions in 1982, were relegated in 2016 and lost to Fulham in last year's playoff final.

McGinn doubled the advantage in the 59th minute when a deflected shot from El Ghazi looped into the area.

After three years in the Championship, Aston Villa are back in the top flight.

As far as goalkeeping errors go, the one Kelle Roos produced on Monday was by no means the worst seen at Wembley over the Bank Holiday weekend.

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"I probably forget as my career was a while ago now but that feeling that I had pre-Leeds in the play-off semi-finals and how much I, the players and the fans, wanted to win that game was something special".

Villa's local-born midfielder Jack Grealish, who was close to leaving the club before the start of the season, showed his class throughout and was delighted with promotion. "And I have done it, I have scored goals and we have got promoted".

Having just been assured of at least £170m by winning promotion to the most lucrative league in world sport, the money owed to Lerner may sound like loose change, but when you are competing in the Premier League, every pound counts.

Dean Smith's side took charge early on and managed to avoid failing in a second successive play-off final despite Derby's late rally, with the Rams' hapless defending giving Villa a helping hand in a match estimated to be worth £170million to the victors.

"The key thing is momentum", said former Brentford manager Smith, who took over from Steve Bruce at Villa Park in October.

He said: "The cup football feeling has been good for us". They may not like it, but Villa might want to take a leaf out of their West Midlands rivals' book. I can't even explain to you how happy I am.

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