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  • By Paul Lagan

Fulham’s Cairney scores to put the Londoners into the Premier League and £300m windfall coming their

Fulham are in the Premier League Photo by Paul Lagan

Fulham are back the big time with £300million in their back pocket after beating Aston Villa 1-0 at Wembley Stadium this afternoon to win the Championship Play-off.

Villa were poor in the first half but pushed the Londoners all the way and even then, after Fulham’s Denis Odoi was sent off for two bookable offences, they could not find their way through a impenetrable Fulham back-four.

Is this the end of an illustrious career of Villa skipper John Terry? He wanted to bring the Midlanders into the top flight, but it’s another season for them in the second tier.

Fulham, by contrast can look forward to the likes of Manchester City and United and Chelsea to Craven Cottage next season.

They were the better footballing side but Villa have to take great credit - they nuts did nit have the cutting edge needed.

A first half strike by man of the match Tom Cairney was they difference between the sides and the

The £300million match was never going to be a tame affair.

While the opening exchanges yielded few chances on goal, the intensity and strength of tacking suggested that no quarter of the pitch was going to be surrendered easily.

Villa’s James Chester was first in Anthony Taylor’s book on nine minutes for a wayward tackle.

A poor kick out by Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli allowed Villa a half-chance but Lewis Grabban was unable tom latch onto a Joe Grealsih through ball and the chance slipped away for a goal kick on 14 minutes.

A slashed at left-footer by Robert Snodgrass three minutes later, from just outside the Fulham penalty area, failed to trouble the Londoner’s goal.

Fulham’s first effort on goal, on 21 minutes saw a quick turn and shot by Aboubakar Kamara demo the edge of the Villa area. The ball dipped late, but inched over Sam Johnstone’s crossbar.

The breakthrough for Fulham came a minute later when Ryan Sessegnon produced a sensational defence-splitting though ball, which Tom Cairney latched onto, and the midfielder slotted cooly home with a deft left-footer that was beyond the grasp of Johnstone.

Quite how Ryan Fredericks got away without even a talking too after stamping on Grealish on 30 minutes is anybodies guess. The incident happened right on the half-way line by the dugouts and while Fredericks was rightly called for pulling the midfielder’s jersey, there was no call for the right-back to jump over him and land with his left foot straight on the thigh of the now prone player.

Sessegnon almost reaped the benefit of a glancing header by John Terry, but the left lack’s own header went straight into Johnstone’s midriff.

A well worked freekick by Villa on 39 minutes almost saw Grealsih lash the ball home from an acute angle, but instead he hacked the ball well over Bettinelli’s goal.

There were no changes by either side at half-time

The first effort of the half fell to Fulham, Stefan Johansen’s, low drive, lacked the required power and Bettinelli easily sniffled the ball.

Grealish had a great chance five minutes in, but his glancing header after a late-run, beat Johnstone, but skipped over his crossbar.

Fulham hauled themselves back into the game after Villa’s early pressure play, and Aleksandar Mitovic trailed a glancing header. he too saw his effort sneak wide of Johnstone’s goal.

A sensational weaving, mazy run by Grealish on 61 minutes, almost brought the Midlanders level. But Bettinelli managed to kick the goal-bound effort away.

A claim for a penalty when Grealsih smashed the ball into Denis Odoi was waved away by Taylor.

That frustration led to Grealish cutting Cairney in half with a very late challenge which he was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

On a quick break by the Londoners, aided by Sessegnon, Johansen crashed a right footer over the crossbar.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, Odoi, already yellow-carded saw another and a red when he fouled Grealish, who had slipped past him.

Oliver Norwood came off the bench to replaced Johansen as Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic looked to plug the hole left by the departing Odoi.

Despite the man disadvantage, Mitrovic managed a shot on target, which was deflected away for a corner

Next off for Fulham was Kamara, and he got a booking for slowly exiting the pitch, on came Tomas Kalas.

Steve Bruce replaced Elmohamady for Kodjia and Jedinak for Onomah.

Villa’s last throw of the die saw Scott Hogan replace Conor Hourihane.

Ryan Fredericks was replaced by Cyrus Christie.

Fulham ran the clock down effectively and deserved their victory.

Teams: Villa, Johnstone, Chester, Snodgrass, Grealish, Hourihane, Jedinak, Hutton, Terry, Elmohamady, Adomah, Grabban

Subs: Whelan, Hogan, Bree, Onomah, Bjarnason, Kodjia, Bunn

Fulham: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Sessegnon, Odoi, McDonald, Johansen, Cairney, Ream, target, Mitrovic, Kamara,

Subs: Button, Fonte, Ayite, Norwood, Piazon, Christie, Kalas

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