Bruce after Villa qualifies for promotion playoff final: “We just shaded it”

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Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce is your guy if you want to get out of the Championship, and is one win away from bringing a fifth side into the Premier League.

[ RECAP: Villa 0-0 (1-0 agg.) Boro ]

Villa advanced to the playoff final with a 1-0 aggregate win over Middlesbrough, the second leg a 0-0 at Villa Park on Tuesday.

And if Villa knocks off Fulham on May 26, Bruce will have led two Hull City, Birmingham City, and Aston Villa into the top flight via the playoff, once more each with Hull and Birmingham via the league route.

“We just shaded it over the two games, with a goal from a set-piece,” Bruce said. “But in the second half tonight there was only one team that was going to win it.

“It was agony towards the end, if I’m being honest. It means so much. Thankfully it looks as if we’ve got the club turned around a little bit. We’ve given ourselves a good chance. We’re up against an outstanding team in Fulham.”

Bruce has endured a harrowing few months off the pitch, losing his father and mother in an 88-day span. With respect to Fulham (and Birmingham) fans, it’s easy to make Villa the emotional favorite of the playoff final.