Cairney goal sends Fulham back into Premier League

02 June, 2018, 03:44 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • GETTYAston Villa transfer news Steve Bruce wants Alan Hutton to stay at the club

Fulham secured their return to the Premier League with a 1-0 defeat of Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Saturday.

Cairney struck with a cool finish in the first half at Wembley to earn Fulham a top-flight place worth an estimated £160 million ($213 million) windfall.

The youngster was highly rated when he initially broke into the Aston Villa squad a few years ago, but his progress seemed to stall, with questions being asked about his attitude and his off-the-field antics.

Villa boss Steve Bruce made just one change from the goalless draw with Middlesbrough in the semi-final second-leg, while John Terry started at centre-back and Ahmed El Mohamady slotted in at right-back.

The physicality kept going as James Chester fouled Aleksandar Mitrovic just outside the box making it the first booking of the day. "We needed two and a half years", he said.

Ryan Sessegnon set up the goal for Cairney with a pinpoint through-ball, continuing his influential role for Fulham this season and especially in the playoffs. Stefan Johansen equaled for Fulham in the shadows of half-time, before Albert Adomah put Villa in front five minutes after the restart.

Fulham were running out of energy as the clock wound down, with Snodgrass and Scott Hogan having attempts before a late Grealish penalty claim and the welcome sound of the full-time whistle.

Grealish was Villa's brightest spark throughout the encounter, with the playmaker on the end of a number of meaty challenges.

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Marouane Fellaini, who is out of contract at United in June, looks to have played his last match for the club and could leave this summer.

Villa, owned by Chinese businessman Tony Xia, paid the price for a limp first half and are faced with a third successive season outside the Premier League, a stark reality given a reduction in the parachute payments could lead to the sale of their stars.

And Grealish himself was fortunate not to see red, letting his frustration get the better of him, sliding in recklessly on Cairney with referee Anthony Taylor only brandishing a yellow card.

By the 65th, 20 fould had been committed, 10 for each team.

The game been fiery from the moment the referee blew for kick-off, and the match came to head 70 minutes in when Odoi was dismissed for a second bookable offence of Grealish, who should had been sent off prior for a two-footed tackle on Cairney.

"I've played in some big games, played in the Champions League, the semi-final of the FA Cup and we did well in the Premier League again".

After masterminding Fulham's rise up the table and eventual promotion following his appointment in December 2015, Jokanovic will know Fulham will have to adapt back into life in the Premier League following a four-year absence from the England's top flight.

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