Aston Villa 0 Middlesbrough 0: Villa win 1-0 on aggregate to end Boro's promotion dream
Middlesbrough's dream of promotion back to the Premier League is over after they failed to produce a shot on target against Aston Villa in the second leg of their play off semi final.
Boro, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, needed to score but didn't even manage an effort on target, Stewart Downing's late free-kick against the crossbar the closest they came.
Tony Pulis' Boro will be playign Championship football again next season, Mile Jedinak's first leg header enough to send them through to face Fulham in the play-off final.
The atmosphere at Villa Park was electric, pre-match flames, banners, the Holte End and travelling Boro fans in superb voice. The stage was set.
Villa started well, showing far more purpose and not sitting back on their 1-0 advantage.
Their tactic of doubling up on Adama Traore again evident, along with a constant attempt to get the ball quickly to ex-Boro winger Albert Adomah, the wideman targeting Ryan Shotton and
Fry on the right-hand side of Boro's defence.
Boro were nervy; Fry, Stewart Downing, Shotton and Jonny Howson all giving the ball away in the opening 10 minutes.
Darren Randolph saw his hurried clearance from a casual Adam Clayton backpass chased down by Conor Hourihane, Boro fortunate to get away with it.
Villa were quicker and slicker in possession and showed more intent going forward in the opening stages but Boro went close to drawing level ten minutes in.
Shotton's long throw caused problems, Britt Assombalonga nodding the ball over the crossbar. It took Boro 15 minutes to finally settle.
The game wasn't played at a fast pace, Boro struggled to get Traore into the game, Pulis' plan for his players to get the ball to him quicker not working.
By the half hour mark the game had turned into a scrappy affair, with neither side able to build any sustained pressure. Tight and tense, both teams afraid to make a costly mistake.
Villa squandered a brilliant chance to take the lead 39 minutes in, Lewis Grabban nodded down to Chester but he drilled his low effort wide.
Boro had a half-hearted penalty appeal two minutes before the break, Assombalonga powering past several Villa players before his run was ended - fairly - with a strong Villa tackle.
HT: Aston Villa 0 Middlesbrough 0
Boro attempted to show more attacking intent early in the second half, the ball breaking to Besic 20-yards out but he drilled his effort wide of the right-hand post, Johnstone still to be
The game had both livened and opened up, while the atmosphere in the stands cranked up a notch too. It meant space at both ends.
And Villa almost extended their overall advantage on the hour mark, Adomah breezing past Friend before finding Grabban six-yards out.
His stabbed effort superbly stopped by Randolph.
Pulis looked to his bench with 67 minutes gone, Patrick Bamford coming on for Assombalonga, the Boro boss keeping faith with the same system.
A pile-driver from Grabban was then tipped over the bar by Randolph with 20 minutes to go, the home side showing more intent than Boro.
Randolph was proving to be Boro's star performer, the stopper producing another fine save in the 75th mintue, diving to his left to deny Grealish's 30-yard effort.
It was all Villa, with Boro struggling to get out of their own half as the clocked ticked down as Randolph saved from Hourihane.
Boro finally sparked into life late on, Johnstone booked for handballing outside his area as Traore tried to loft the ball over him. There was controversy over whether it should have been a
red but Mike Dean deemed it just a yellow card.
Downing's free-kick rattled the crossbar.
It was the closest Boro had come but it wans't enough.
The promotion dream over.
FT: Aston Villa 0 Middlesbrough 0
Villa: Johnstone; Bree, Chester, Terry, Hutton; Jedinak, Hourihane (Whelan, 85); Snodgrass, Grealish, Adomah (Bjarnason, 90); Grabban (Kodjia, 79).
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Samba, Onamah, Hogan, Kodjia
Booked: Snodgrass (34), Hutton (44), Grealish (60), Johnstone (87)
Boro: Randolph; Shotton (Fabio, 82), Fry, Gibson (C), Friend; Clayton; Traore, Howson (Gestede, 72), Besic, Downing; Assombalonga (Bamford, 67)
Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Cranie, Leadbitter, Harrison.
Booked: Friend (13), Besic (80)
Referee: Mike Dean