Villa edge Derby to seal Premier League return
Championship play-off final, Wembley - Aston Villa 2 (El-Ghazi 44', McGinn 59') Derby County 1 (Marriot 81')
Goals from Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn either side of half time secured Aston Villa promotion to the Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Derby County at Wembley - and ended their three-year exile from the top flight.
Substitute Jack Marriott had pulled a goal back late on for Frank Lampard's men, making for a dramatic ending after an exciting second half.
It was a tentative start to the game, but Villa - who lost this match 1-0 to Fulham a year ago - grabbed the early initiative through Jack Grealish. Derby struggled to handle him as he went close with an effort from outside the box.
Anwar El Ghazi of Aston Villa celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final match between Aston Villa and Derby County at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2019 in London, EnglandGetty Images
Derby struggled to deal with set pieces were also evident when Axel Tuanzebe almost put Villa ahead from a corner, but they soon settled down once Mason Mount and Harry Wilson got on the ball
Villa continued probing and eventually took the lead through El Ghazi, who headed home Ahmed El Mohamedy’s cross from close range just a minute before the break.
The second half started in a similar vein to the first, with Dean Smith's team engineering the better chances. Nerves were settled somewhat just before the hour mark, when El Ghazi’s deflected effort was misjudged by Kelle Roos, allowing McGinn to head home.
Frank Lampard reacted by changing shape and bringing on Martyn Waghorn, Florian Josefzoon and Marriott, which made a huge difference.
They breathed new life into the contest on 81 minutes when Jack Marriott swept a low shot into the net after Josefzoon's cross was headed back across goal by Jayden Bogle, but Villa clung on grimly to seal their return to the Premier League. .
MAN OF THE MATCH – ANWAR EL GHAZI
The winger opened the scoring just before the break with an excellent header, but he was a constant thorn in Derby’s side, with the Rams petrified to challenge him in the first half particularly. Derby played very narrow throughout and it was his pace out wide which really caused issues for them, as proved when he cut inside to shoot, only for his deflected effort to lead to the second goal via McGinn.
TALKING POINT – ASTON VILLA BACK IN THE BIG TIME
Villa are back in the Premier League for the first time in three years, and Dean Smith, a boyhood fan of the club, has taken them up. It is an incredible achievement, considering the state they were in when he picked them up. Eleven straight wins has done it for them, and they are now £170million richer. Nobody can say they don’t deserve it.
- Aston Villa: Steer 6, Taylor 6. Mings, 7, Tuanzebe 5, Elmohamedy 7, McGinn 6, Grealish 7, Hourihane 6, El Ghazi 7, Adomah 5, Abraham 5..subs: Green 5 Hause n/a
- Derby: Roos 5, Cole 5, Tomori 6, Keogh 6, Bogle 5, Mount 6, Johnson 5, Huddlestone 6. Wilson 6, Bennett 6, Lawrence 5..subs: Josefzoon 6 Waghorn 6 Marriott
- 44’ – GOAL! El Ghazi nods home El Mohamedy's cross. Villa take the lead at a crucial time. 1-0.
- 59’ – GOAL! McGinn capitalises on a terrible error by Roos, who completely misjudged the flight of El Ghazi's deflected shot. 2-0 Villa.
- 81’ – GOAL! Derby back in it. The ball breaks for Marriott, who places it into the corner. 2-1!
- Both teams scored in the Championship playoff final for the first time since 2012
- Aston Villa scored 34 goals from crosses this season
- Aston Villa are the first side to return and win a playoff final after a defeat since West Ham in 2004.