Aston Villa reaches Championship playoff final

May 15, 2018

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Aston Villa will play Fulham for a place in next season’s Premier League after holding Middlesbrough to a 0-0 draw in the second leg of the semifinals of England’s second-tier playoffs on Tuesday.

Villa went through 1-0 on aggregate by defending its lead from the first leg despite a nervy finale at Villa Park, with Stewart Downing’s late free kick hitting the bar for Middlesbrough after Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was lucky to escape a red card for handball outside the area.

Villa is hoping to return to the Premier League after a two-year absence.

Fulham advanced after beating Derby 2-0 in their second leg on Monday, sealing a 2-1 win on aggregate.

The playoff final is on May 26 at Wembley.

Wolverhampton Wanderers and Cardiff were promoted automatically from the League Championship.

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