Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has had his say on his side’s penalty victory over rivals West Brom, which saw them progress to the Championship Play-Off final for the second season in a row.
West Brom were victorious on a dramatic Tuesday night at the Hawthorns, thanks to Craig Dawson’s first-half header. However, it was Villa who had the last laugh.
After 120 minutes, nothing could separate the two sides and it went to penalties to decide who will be playing either Leeds United or Derby County at Wembley. Jed Steer made two saves for Villa and Tammy Abraham converted the winning spot kick to send Villa fans wild.
Speaking after the game, Aston Villa boss Dean Smith heaped praise on Abraham and his heroic shot-stopper (quotes via Birmingham Live).
“I wouldn’t have wanted any other player to take it than Tammy,” Smith said.
“And as for Jed, they were two great penalty saves. We prepared for it since we qualified for the play-offs and we knew who our penalty takers would be.”
Reflecting on the 120-minute clash at the Hawthorns, Smith admitted that he was disappointed that his side could not avoid defeat. Tuesday night’s loss is the first time Villa have lost away from home in over three months.
“I think I’m more annoyed that we lost the game. That’s the thing that sticks in my head. They were always going to be a threat from set-pieces with the height that they’ve got. But we worked on them so I was annoyed with the goal.
“We were wasteful in the final third as well and that was when it was 11 vs 11.
“When it’s 10 vs 11, you have to give them credit because they made it difficult to get at them. The wagons pulled up and they made it hard for us to get through to Sam Johnstone. Then he’s made a great save from Adomah.
“But we should have got that goal that sees us through. Credit to West Brom, they gave us two tough games. I think the top six in this league is very tough. I think we deserved it overall.”
Now, Smith has said that after allowing time for his players to rest, the focus will switch to the final game of a long season, in which a win will see them return to the Premier League.
“We can be proud of getting to the final but the top six is tough. We’ve got to get past Leeds or Derby and it will be a tough game. But we’ve got there and are one game away from the Premier League.
“The lads can go and enjoy themselves for a couple of days before we set sights on that game.”