Aston Villa promoted to the Premier League: Nervy win over Derby secures top-flight return

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Aston Villa secured promotion back to the Premier League after goals from Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn earned a deserved 2-1 win over Derby in the Championship Play-Off Final at Wembley.  

Villa were the better side for much of the game, taking the lead on the stroke of half-time through man of the match El Ghazi, before a howler from Derby ‘keeper Kelle Roos gifted them a second after the break. 

Super-sub Jack Marriott’s third goal in two games made things interesting late on, but it was Dean Smith’s men who held on to win the most lucrative game in football. 

The result sees Villa bounce back into the top-flight at the third time of asking, avenging last season’s Play-Off Final defeat to Fulham, and denies Derby boss Frank Lampard a fairytale end to his first season in management. 

Dean Smith made just one alteration to the side that had eventually seen off West Brom on penalties in the semi-final, with Albert Adomah, who missed his spot-kick in that shootout, preferred to Andre Green. 

Lampard, meanwhile, made two changes, bringing in the experienced duo of Tom Huddlestone and former team-mate Ashley Cole in place of Duane Holmes and the suspended Scott Malone.

There was no start, however, for Marriott, whose double off the bench had helped secure a remarkable comeback win over Leeds, with Mason Bennett again leading the line and Martyn Waghorn back among the substitutes.

The favourites, Villa, settled quickest and twice threatened inside the opening quarter of an hour. Roos began what would be a torrid afternoon by clearing straight to McGinn, who in turn fizzed a pass first-time to Jack Grealish. Despite a sharp first touch, the Villa skipper could only lash over the bar.

Then, in another sign of things to come, El Ghazi sprinted the length of the field, evading Huddlestone and Mason Mount with ease, before Derby skipper Richard Keogh made a crucial sliding challenge to deny him, as the Rams struggled to get a foothold. 

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All the talk had been of how 38-year-old Cole would fare, but throughout the first half it was the other full-back Jayden Bogle, 20 years his junior, that Lampard will have been most concerned about, as he struggled to contain Lille loanee El Ghazi time and time again.

Tammy Abraham was next to threaten, carving an effort over the bar from just outside the box after being allowed to turn too easily, before Derby finally found some attacking verve, Mount testing Jed Steer with a strike from range and Keogh heading over from a corner. 

Just as it looked as if Lampard’s men would survive until half-time, however, Villa struck. A slightly fortuitous passage of play in midfield saw the ball worked wide to Adomah. 

He laid back into the path of Ahmed Elmohamady, and when the Egyptian’s cross floated towards the back post, it was no surprise to see El Ghazi get across Bogle to find the bottom corner with a low diving header. 

The second half began in heated fashion, with three men booked inside the opening six minutes, and Huddlestone lucky not to be a fourth. That chaos, however, was nothing compared to that which would engulf the Derby box just before the hour mark, to gift Villa a second. 

El Ghazi was again chief instigator, but when his long-range shot looped up off a defender, there looked little doubt that Roos would come to claim easily. Instead, the Dutchman went rugby full-back style to bring the high ball into his chest, allowing McGinn to dart in and nod home from two yards. 

Marriott had been summoned to save the day with his side two goals down in the semi-final, and Lampard turned to the same man again here, before also throwing Waghorn into the mix in search of a lifeline.

Fittingly, it was Marriott who supplied it, lashing home after Tyrone Mings’ heroic last-ditch tackle, which eventually ended his participation, had denied Waghorn. 

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Lampard sensed another famous turnaround for the side that had become the first to ever reach this fixture after losing the first leg of their semi-final at home, but it wasn’t to be, as Villa held out to return to the promised land. 

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Live Updates

Aston Villa skipper Jack Grealish has been speaking to Sky Sports


I’m speechless. It was such a hard game, but when I look around and I’ve got John, Anwar I believe.


It means the world to go up, we know where this club belongs. I’ve stayed here and we’re back there now. I’ve led my boyhood team to the Premier League.

They’ve just shown Prince William on the big screen, cheering away as Jack Grealish lifts the trophy. 


Still not sure there should be an actual trophy for this game, but hey ho. 

What a brilliant job Dean Smith has done. coming in halfway through the season to manage the club he’s supported all his life, and now he’s taken them back to the big time.

There’s a giant Play-Off trophy on the pitch. They’ll have the real thing in a minute.

Jack Grealish looks exhausted, hands on knees as he salutes the Villa faithful. 


‘We are going up!’


FULL TIME | Aston Villa 2-1 Derby | 




90+7 mins: It’s like a goal’s gone in as Wilson hangs one up and Steer gets up highest to claim it. Almost there. 

90+5 mins: What a finale this is. 


Still Derby work it patiently, but Jozefzoon is offside and Villa can breathe and waste another 30 seconds. 

90+1 mins: SEVEN MINUTES! 

90 mins: Free-kick to Villa and they’ll take an age over this. 


Unsurprisingly, the big men stay back, and they give it to El Ghazi, who wants another free-kick out wide but it’s not going. 

88 mins: All the time wasting tactics in the world now. Two minutes of normal time to play. 

88 mins: All the time wasting tactics in the world now. Two minutes of normal time to play. 


86 mins: Mings hurt himself making that tackle, and he’s going to be replaced by Hause. 

82 mins: Game on! 


He’s done it again! A heroic tackle from Mings looks to have denied Derby, but they recycle it and eventually the ball breaks to Jack Marriot to fire home! 


GOAL! | Aston Villa 2-1 Derby | Jack Marriott 82′ 


80 mins: All getting a bit tetchy at the back for Villa now – a few penalty box scrambles, but so far they’re unscathed. 


Ten minutes to go. 

78 mins: The back door is well and truly open now. 


Villa come streaming forward, and El Ghazi times his pass to Grealish on the overlap to perfection, but the Englishman chooses to square when he really should have gone for goal himself. 


74 mins: A first Villa change – Adomah makes way and Andre Green is on. 


A final throw of the dice from Lampard – Tom Lawrence is off, Florian Jozefzoon is on. 

73 mins: What a chance! 


Lovely intricate stuff from Mount and Wilson, but it ends with the former side footing well wide. 

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