Tom Cairney goal earns Premier League promotion for Fulham

English Championship Play-Off Report: Aston Villa v Fulham 26 May 2018

English Championship Play-Off Report: Aston Villa v Fulham 26 May 2018

Cairney's first-half goal was decisive as Fulham, owned by United States billionaire Shahid Khan, held on to their narrow lead despite having defender Denis Odoi sent off after 70 minutes as tempers began to fray on a sultry afternoon.

Teenager Ryan Sessegnon received the ball midway inside Villa's half, evaded a tackle, and turned to play a through ball that Cairney calmly slotted past keeper Sam Johnstone.

"We knew we wouldn't shrink in this environment", Cairney said to Sky Sports.

Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic recognised that his team will have to invest in their side to ensure survival after winning promotion.

"We must try to dominate against teams we think we can but we must be realistic in the future", Jokanovic said.

If Fulham can retain Sessegnon and Cairney, they will have two significant assets as they build for next season.

Reduced to 10 men for much of the second half, after Denis Oboi was sent off, they abandoned everything that had taken them this far, everything that had carried them to a 23-game unbeaten run this year, and simply ground it out.

"I believed in the way we play, and the manager has put a lot of faith in me. We trust he'll be at his best level".

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"As always with any disappointment, give me two or three days to dust myself down and get ready to go again".

Steve Bruce lost a Championship play-off final for the first time.

It shows just how good Ryan Sessegnon is that nobody is even surprised when he provides a moment of inspiration in a big game. "We must adapt ourselves; we know what is ahead of us".

Jack Grealish suddenly got involved in the game and he forced a save from goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli after a superb slaloming dribble through the Fulham defence.

The 22-year-old and the Villa fans were incandescent when handball appeals against Odoi were ignored - anger that bubbled over as he launched into an overzealous challenge on Cairney that led to a booking and on-field commotion.

Villa, meanwhile, were struggling to get going, particularly in the last third and looked prone to conceding another goal.

Having seen his team take the lead just five minutes before it was a insane thing to do and serious questions have to be asked of the assistant referee for not deeming it a red card offence.

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