Aston Villa one game away from Premier League return

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

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

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.

From the resultant free-kick Stewart Downing's fine curling shot rattled the woodwork to increase the visitors' angst.

The Villans did the hard work in the north-east thanks to Mile Jedinak's goal, and now just need to avoid defeat at home to qualify for the final at Wembley. Cardiff also secured automatic promotion, pipping Fulham to second place on the final day.

Aston Villa will face Fulham in the Championship play-off final after Steve Bruce's side saw off Middlesbrough in their semi-final clash.

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.

Pulis is keeping his fingers crossed over central defender Daniel Ayala, who limped out of Saturday's game with a knee injury.

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The evening had started in sombre mood and with a minute's applause as a mark of respect to Jlloyd Samuel, the former Villa and Bolton Wanderers player who was killed in a auto crash earlier in the day.

Here are five things we learned from the penultimate game of the Championship season.

Villa came close through Lewis Grabban and Conor Hourihane and were comfortable against a poor Boro side.

Pragmatic Pulis would have possibly taken a goalless interval scoreline, but the onus was clearly upon Boro to make any opportunities count on the resumption.

Boro I thought didn't play badly but they did huff and puff a bit, the game somewhat reminded me of the Wolves game.

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