Championship Reaction: Fulham promoted after play-off final win over Aston Villa

Fulham have been promoted to the Premier League after defeating Aston Villa 1-0 in the Championship play-off final.

Tom Cairney struck the only goal of the game midway through the first half, low past Villa keeper Sam Johnstone after Ryan Sessegnon’s pass.

Fulham finished the match with 10 men after centre-back Denis Odoi was booked twice for fouls on Jack Grealish.

Referee Anthony Taylor turned down a number of Villa penalty appeals and Fulham held firm under heavy pressure towards the end of the match.

Read the latest reaction below.

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Fulham Reaction

Manager Slavisa Jokanovic: “I am so excited for my club, for these supporters. We showed we could follow the style that we followed for the past two years, in this stadium

“I’d have preferred to do the job earlier but, to be promoted at this place in front of these fans, I have to be satisfied.

“I’m happy with what my team offered today and how we played our football.”

Captain and goalscorer Tom Cairney: “After we missed out on promotion last season, a lot of people wrote us off. We got a lot of stick. But football won today. Football win.

“I’ve been playing the whole season not fully fit. My knee still hurts. But my manager said he needed me so I just played. I’ll need the summer to rest and get fit.

“We knew we wouldn’t shrink in this environment. The pitch suits us, with the way we play football. In my eyes, over the past two seasons, we’ve been the best team in this league.

“I signed a contract extension for a reason. I believe what we’re doing here is something special.”

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Denis Odoi: “If it goes wrong, everyone is looking at you. It’s so unfortunate and I’m just so relieved.

“I can be happy with my performance – I was very happy with my performance in the first half, but getting sent off sucked.

“The owner’s trying to buy Wembley so it felt like home. I’m so happy and I’m looking forward to next season – what else can I say?”

Stefan Johansen: “I think we have been one of the better teams in the Championship all the way through the season and we deserved this.

“We have played more as a team this year and fought for each other – if someone makes a mistake, the next man sticks up for him. It’s great to be a part of this team.

“I haven’t seen too many of the play-off finals, but I’ve always heard it’s always exciting and strange things happen. One of the big things we have done this season is keep grinding out results – if teams put us under pressure, we can respond.”

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Aston Villa Reaction

Manager Steve Bruce: “We were disappointed with the first half. We didn’t do enough to ask them real questions. We did in the second half.

“For me, Ryan Fredericks should have been sent off. He stamped on Jack Grealish, right in front of me.

“In the second half, we were much better. We just needed a break, but we didn’t get one. I was totally disappointed with the first half. We all are. With a big game, it’s tough to swallow.

“But we’re Aston Villa. We’ll dust ourselves down next year and try and go one better.”

Cover Photo: Fulham by Nick used under license by CC BY 2.0.

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