Jedinak lauded for ‘best on ground’ play-off display
Caltex Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak has come in for big praise from English press and Aston Villa fans alike for his ‘man mountain’ of a performance to send his club to Wembley.
Jedinak’s first leg goal against Middlesbrough in the Championship promotion play-off semi-final proved to be the only goal of the tie, as Villa now play Fulham for a spot in the Premier League.
“The longer it went on - and when it hit the crossbar - I thought ‘dear oh dear, you can’t put me through that!’,” Aston Villa head coach Steve Bruce said of Villa’s second leg 0-0 draw, which was enough to progress past Middlesbrough.
“But what has got us through is our defence. Both games they’ve had only one shot on target and defensively we’ve been good all season.”
A key part of that defence was Aussie enforcer Jedinak, who received huge praise for his work rate and defensive efforts in the centre of midfield for Aston Villa.
Jedinak was Villa’s most influential player on the ball – with 47 passes, 38 of them successful, better than any of his teammates – but it was his performance off the ball that was pivotal.
According to WhoScored.com, Jedinak scored an 8.2 out of 10 rating, won seven tackles and made 10 clearances – both best on ground statistics. The Caltex Socceroo was also a presence in the air, winning five aerial duels – an Aston Villa high.
Unsurprisingly, Jedinak received praise from UK outlets, with host broadcaster Sky Sports awarding him the Man of the Match tag.
“Jedinak produced a massive performance in the centre of Villa's midfield,” wrote Simeon Gholam.
“He covered every blade of grass of the Villa Park pitch to his back four, winning headers, tackles and second balls to help his side get over the line.”
Eurosport’s Michael Hincks also scored Jedinak as Villa’s best on ground, writing: “[It was] by no means a classic, with no standout performances, but Villa were solid as a unit.
“Jedinak proved an immovable force in front of their defence, reducing Boro to half-chances, until the late drama.”
Jedinak also received acclaim from local newspaper the Birmingham Mail, where he was awarded an 8.5 out of 10, topped only by centre back James Chester in their eyes.
“He’s just solid isn’t he?,” wrote Gregg Evans of Jedinak.
“[He] crunched into tackles, won headers and marshalled the midfield. His performance was so dominant once again and his single goal in the 180 minutes won the tie for Villa.”
Jedinak and Villa will now prepare for the all-important play-off final against Fulham at 2:00am on Sunday, May 27 (AEST).
Here’s how Aston Villa fans reacted to Mile Jedinak’s performance against Middlesbrough...
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