Aston Villa beat West Bromwich Albion in a penalty shootout to reach the Championship play-off final for the second successive season.
Tammy Abraham’s winning spot-kick, after Villa keeper Jed Steer had saved Albion’s first two penalties, settled the shootout 4-3 in Villa’s favour after a gripping two hours of tension-packed derby drama.
Trailing 2-1 from Saturday’s first leg, Albion levelled the tie when Craig Dawson flicked home a near-post header from a long throw.
But, just as much as Dwight Gayle’s red card proved crucial at Villa Park, so did the 80th minute sending-off of Albion captain Chris Brunt as the Baggies finished with 10 men for the second time in four days.
They held on for penalties and, although Albert Adomah’s miss in the shootout briefly gave them hope after Steer had saved from Mason Holgate and Ahmed Hegazi, Abraham kept his nerve to book a play-off final meeting with either Leeds or Derby at Wembley on 27 May.
Two red cards in four days hinder Albion
The main sub-plot of a tight two-legged play-off semi-final was Albion’s two red cards, with top scorer Gayle sent off on Saturday and skipper Brunt dismissed at The Hawthorns.
If the Baggies were a bit unlucky at Villa Park over the controversial Gayle incident, this time there was no doubt at all.
Brunt stepped on John McGinn’s arm in their first tangle before the break, but referee Chris Kavanagh either did not see the incident or deemed it accidental.
Brunt was then booked early in the second half for a late challenge on McGinn, which could easily have been interpreted as a sending-off offence in its own right.
When he brought McGinn down again on the edge of the box, Brunt’s resulting red card was inevitable.
More to follow.