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Mile Jedinak is on the verge of a return to the Premier League (EPL) after his Aston Villa side secured their place in the Championship play-off final against Fulham.
The Socceroos captain got the only goal of the two-legged tie against Middlesbrough, glancing home a header in the away first leg, before the Villans kept their opponents at bay in a tense goalless draw at Villa Park on Tuesday.
Steve Bruce’s side will face The Cottagers in the final at Wembley on May 26, as they look to return to the Premier League from which they were relegated in 2016.
The game is considered the most lucrative in world football with Jedinak hoping to emulate national teammate Aaron Mooy, who helped Huddersfield secure promotion to the EPL with a successful penalty in their shootout win in last year’s play-off final.
At the heart of the Villa defence that kept Boro in check was former Chelsea and England centre back John Terry, who joined the club last year on a free transfer.
“(We’ve produced) two very good performances away and at home tonight,” Terry said.
“The boys are different class. I think it was important in the first half that we did not concede.
“Another clean sheet and a great night
The match began with a minute’s applause for former Villa defender Jlloyd Samuel who died earlier on Tuesday at the age of 37 in a car accident.
Boro created few clear-cut chances but almost levelled the tie late on when Stewart Downing’s 89th-minute free kick from just outside the penalty area rattled the crossbar.
That proved to be the closest they came to a shot on target all evening and manager Tony Pulis, who began this season in the EPL in charge of West Bromwich Albion, knew his side were always outsiders.
“The teams that have finished third and fourth over a season have got to Wembley and that’s justification, if anything,” Pulis told Sky Sports.
The home fans erupted in wild celebrations at fulltime and flooded onto the pitch to join the players.
Bruce has led two teams through the playoffs to the Premier League but expected a tight encounter against the Londoners.
“They’re a good football side. They’ve got some good players but, then again, so have we,” he said.
“We’re going to Wembley, let’s enjoy it.”