Championship - Play-offs - 1st Leg
Aston Villa2West Brom1

Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion: Conor Hourihane and Tammy Abraham give hosts edge

Tammy Abraham scores
Tammy Abraham's 26th goal of the season gives Aston Villa the advantage going into Tuesday's second leg at The Hawthorns

Aston Villa struck twice inside three second-half minutes to earn themselves the advantage in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final with West Bromwich Albion.

Substitute Conor Hourihane's brilliant 25-yard shot and then a Tammy Abraham penalty turned the tie on its head following Dwight Gayle's first-half strike.

But the real tipping point of the two-leg contest may have come two minutes from the end of normal time when Baggies striker Gayle was sent off for sliding in late on Villa keeper Jed Steer.

Barely two minutes after being booked by referee Graham Scott for time wasting, he got away with a similarly committed challenge on the halfway line before this time finally being shown his second yellow card of the game.

Although West Brom's 10 men survived the seven minutes of added time, the effect of Gayle's dismissal may be more keenly felt on Tuesday when Albion's top scorer will now be suspended for the second leg at The Hawthorns.

Having opted to go with three central defenders and with Jay Rodriguez in a more withdrawn role, Albion effectively operated for the majority of the game with a six-man midfield.

And it worked well until Hourihane scored, eight minutes after coming on for Glenn Whelan as part of a double substitution, to help make up for the error made by his fellow midfielder in the build-up to Albion's goal.

Errors hand Albion early initiative

After making a lively start, Villa should have led when, from a short corner on the left, Whelan ballooned a header over from John McGinn's cross, while Albert Adomah fired over.

But Albion threatened for the first time when the Villa defence struggled to clear a Chris Brunt free-kick and, in the confusion that followed, it needed a fine save by Steer to tip a Rodriguez shot onto the bar.

It was then another Villa error that set up Albion's goal on 16 minutes.

A passing exchange between Jack Grealish and Whelan went wrong to leave Gayle in the clear, and the striker ran on to plant a low left-foot shot just inside Steer's left post for his 24th goal of the season.

Dwight Gayle scores for West Brom
Dwight Gayle's 24th goal of the season took the West Brom striker to his highest ever goal tally in a single campaign

Villa substitutions help turn tie

The hosts twice went close to an equaliser before the break when an acrobatic right-foot scissors kick from 10 yards by Abraham flew just over, before the striker's low left-foot shot brought a comfortable save from former Villa loan keeper Sam Johnstone.

But they went down the tunnel at half-time knowing that they would have to improve, and Villa certainly did that as they created more chances after the break.

Whelan had a low shot blocked, Abraham put a near-post header just off target, Grealish had a deflected curling effort saved low down and Anwar El Ghazi shot just over from an angle.

But it was only when Villa head coach Dean Smith turned to his bench that his side finally got their breakthrough.

Grealish squared for Hourihane to hammer home first time left-footed, with Johnstone rooted to the spot as the Republic of Ireland international's ninth Villa goal of the season flew into the net.

Moments later Grealish went down in the area under a challenge from Kieran Gibbs, the penalty was given and Abraham made no mistake for his 26th goal of the campaign.

But the drama was not over as Albion appealed for a penalty of their own when Mason Holgate went down under a clumsy challenge from Abraham, before Gayle's late red card potentially tilted the balance of the tie in Villa's favour.

'We keep on finding ways to win' - post-match reaction

Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith told BBC Sport:

"I had a massive decision to make in leaving out Conor Hourihane, just as I have had tough decisions to make over the last two or three months.

"I've got four quality international midfield players and only three places - and four into three doesn't go. But Conor answered in the best way possible with a lovely strike.

"Albion came with a game plan to slow the game down and they capitalised on Glenn Whelan's mistake. Their approach might be a bit different on Tuesday night. Their supporters might want them to play a bit differently.

"Although a few of ours won't think they had their best game, we keep on finding ways to win. But I was frustrated that, when they were down to 10 men, we maybe did not have enough opportunities to go on and get another."

West Brom caretaker head coach Jimmy Shan told BBC Sport:

"It's very frustrating. Dwight Gayle's a big player for West Brom. He gets booked for allegedly time wasting at a long throw-in. Then, for the second, he's got every right to go in and contest the ball.

"There was no malice whatsoever. He's gone in to make contact, to get on the end of the cross from Jay Rodriguez and make himself a two-goal hero.

"And we should have a penalty ourselves. There was no attempt to win the ball in Abraham's challenge on Holgate. It was a penalty all day long.

"But we've still got 90 minutes ahead of us. The atmosphere will be electric and we've got to be bit more on the front foot and take the game to Aston Villa."

Line-ups

Aston Villa

  • 12Steer
  • 27El Mohamady
  • 4Tuanzebe
  • 40Mings
  • 3Taylor
  • 6WhelanSubstituted forHourihaneat 67'minutes
  • 37AdomahSubstituted forGreenat 67'minutes
  • 7McGinn
  • 10Grealish
  • 22El GhaziSubstituted forKodjiaat 90+1'minutes
  • 18Abraham

Substitutes

  • 14Hourihane
  • 15Jedinak
  • 17Davis
  • 19Green
  • 26Kodjia
  • 28L Kalinic
  • 30Hause

West Brom

  • 1Johnstone
  • 25DawsonSubstituted forMearsat 45'minutes
  • 5Bartley
  • 26HegaziBooked at 48mins
  • 68HolgateBooked at 33mins
  • 11Brunt
  • 6JohansenSubstituted forMorrisonat 85'minutes
  • 3GibbsBooked at 77mins
  • 10PhillipsSubstituted forMurphyat 66'minutes
  • 19Rodriguez
  • 16GayleBooked at 88mins

Substitutes

  • 7Morrison
  • 12Mears
  • 14Townsend
  • 15Montero
  • 23Bond
  • 28Field
  • 70Murphy
Referee:
Graham Scott
Attendance:
40,754

Match Stats

Home TeamAston VillaAway TeamWest Brom
Possession
Home69%
Away31%
Shots
Home21
Away5
Shots on Target
Home6
Away2
Corners
Home10
Away4
Fouls
Home3
Away14

Live Text

Match ends, Aston Villa 2, West Bromwich Albion 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Aston Villa 2, West Bromwich Albion 1.

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Tyrone Mears.

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Mason Holgate.

Attempt blocked. Andre Green (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Tammy Abraham.

Foul by Jack Grealish (Aston Villa).

James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Tammy Abraham.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution

Substitution, Aston Villa. Jonathan Kodjia replaces Anwar El Ghazi because of an injury.

Delay in match Anwar El Ghazi (Aston Villa) because of an injury.

Dismissal

Second yellow card to Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion) for a bad foul.

Jed Steer (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution

Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. James Morrison replaces Stefan Johansen because of an injury.

Delay in match Stefan Johansen (West Bromwich Albion) because of an injury.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa) because of an injury.

Goal!

Goal! Aston Villa 2, West Bromwich Albion 1. Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.

Penalty Aston Villa. Jack Grealish draws a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty conceded by Kieran Gibbs (West Bromwich Albion) after a foul in the penalty area.

Booking

Kieran Gibbs (West Bromwich Albion) is shown the yellow card.

Andre Green (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Kieran Gibbs (West Bromwich Albion).

Goal!

Goal! Aston Villa 1, West Bromwich Albion 1. Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Jack Grealish.

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Kyle Bartley.

Attempt blocked. John McGinn (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Anwar El Ghazi.

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Tyrone Mings.

Substitution

Substitution, Aston Villa. Andre Green replaces Albert Adomah.

Substitution

Substitution, Aston Villa. Conor Hourihane replaces Glenn Whelan.

Substitution

Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Jacob Murphy replaces Matt Phillips.

Attempt saved. Anwar El Ghazi (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Neil Taylor.

Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Stefan Johansen (West Bromwich Albion).

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion).

Attempt blocked. Chris Brunt (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Booking

Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion) is shown the yellow card.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norwich462713693573694
2Sheff Utd462611978413789
3Leeds462581373502383
4West Brom4623111287622580
5Aston Villa4620161082612176
6Derby4620141269541574
7Middlesbrough462013134941873
8Bristol City461913145953670
9Nottm Forest461715146154766
10Swansea461811176562365
11Brentford4617131673591464
12Sheff Wed461616146062-264
13Hull461711186668-262
14Preston461613176767061
15Blackburn461612186469-560
16Stoke461122134552-755
17Birmingham461419136458652
18Wigan461313205164-1352
19QPR46149235371-1851
20Reading461017194966-1747
21Millwall461014224864-1644
22Rotherham46816225283-3140
23Bolton4688302978-4932
24Ipswich46516253677-4131
View full Championship table

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