The second game of the playoffs contained two of the in-form teams in the Championship and it did not disappoint, with a total of 27 attempts from the sides combined. Both teams played attacking football but it was not a day for the strikers, with only 6 of those 27 strikes being on target.
Aston Villa came away with an absolutely crucial win on the day and this small advantage could prove crucial in the second leg.
Aston Villa Player Ratings
Sam Johnstone – 7.5/10
Johnstone made some excellent saves to hold on to his clean sheet.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 7/10
The right-back had an excellent game defensively and also recycled possession well for his side. He didn’t get forward too much but coped with Downing and Traore well.
James Chester – 6.5/10
Chester had a decent game in central defence but didn’t always look comfortable. He had to be bailed out a couple of times by Terry’s good positioning. He will be looking to improve in the second leg.
John Terry – 7.5/10
John Terry seems absolutely determined to help Aston Villa get to the Premier League and he put in a very good performance. His legs may not be what they used to be but he makes up for it with excellent positioning.
Alan Hutton – 7.5/10
Another member of the Aston Villa defence with bags of experience which shone through. He made an incredible seven tackles in the game and also had the chance to get forward.
Mile Jedinak – 8.5/10
The defensive midfielder put in an absolutely tremendous performance in the heart of midfield. He won everything in the air, tackled hard and grabbed the all important goal for his team.
Albert Adomah – 7/10
The left-midfielder played well but still didn’t manage to effect the match as much as Bruce would’ve wanted him to.
Jack Grealish – 10/10
Grealish had an absolutely fantastic game. He was involved in everything creative that Aston Villa did and really drove his team on. He put the corner right onto Jedinak’s forehead and every time he got the ball, he looked dangerous.
Conor Hourihane – 6.5/10
Hourihane looked a little out of place in the Aston Villa midfield today and wasn’t at the same level as the other midfielders. He made a couple of good tackles but will be looking to improve in the second leg.
Robert Snodgrass – 8/10
Snodgrass was absolutely everywhere. He made 10 tackles, won 7 aerial challenges and was also very unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
Lewis Grabban – 6.5/10
Grabban did not have the best of games, and will be annoyed that he wasn’t more of a threat to the Middlesbrough defence.
Jonathan Kodjia – 6/10
Kodjia came on to replace Adomah in the 71st minute but didn’t do too much of note. Gave the midfield a little more energy in the final stages.
Birkir Bjarnason – 6/10
Replaced Grabban in the 81st minute as Aston Villa tried to overload the midfield and kill the game. It worked quite well.
Glenn Whelan – N/A
Replaced Elmohamady in the 88th minute. Whelan has been in excellent form recently and will have been upset at not starting the game. Came on to give Villa some legs for the final few minutes.