Aston Villa dump Derby to mark Premier League return
Catherine Ivill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

After a three-year hiatus, Aston Villa are returning to the Premier League with a win in Monday's "Richest Game in Football."

Dean Smith's Villans topped Derby 2-1 at Wembley Stadium to secure promotion to the top flight thanks to Anwar El-Ghazi's goal on the stroke of halftime and John McGinn's fortuitous second-half finish.

El-Ghazi's second tally of the season could not have come at a better time for the winger on loan from Lille.

The speedy Dutchman was rewarded for a stellar first half when he beat Derby's Jayden Bogle for a diving header off a looping cross at the far post from Ahmed El Mohamady.

Villa started on the front foot, with Tammy Abraham whiffing on a close-range attempt minutes before Jack Grealish's shot from distance swerved away from danger. Derby boss Frank Lampard's approach to stifle Grealish's many virtues was largely successful in a first half that favored Villa's countless surges forward.

Derby's first decent chance came eight minutes before the interval when Mason Mount forced Jed Steer into a save of a stinging shot.

Villa doubled Derby's deficit in the 59th minute when El-Ghazi's deflected right-footed strike on the edge of the penalty area appeared set to sail into the waiting arms of Rams shot-stopper Kelle Roos. Instead, McGinn skied to meet the ball and head it inside the near post.

McGinn's goal forced Lampard into an immediate attacking change, as super-sub Jack Marriott came on for defensive midfield lynchpin Tom Huddlestone. Marriott, whose brace off the bench overturned Leeds' two-goal advantage in the preceding round, fired a scorching effort just wide of the post in the 73rd minute as Derby threw everything they could toward the Villa net.

Marriott would get his goal in the 81st minute when Bogle headed the ball into the 23-year-old's path at close range for a composed finish that put heaps of pressure on a Villa side on its heels.

Now the beneficiaries of an approximate £180-million Premier League boost, Villa join automatic qualifiers Norwich City and Sheffield United in the top tier for the 2019-20 campaign - quite the turnaround for a side that was in 15th place when Smith took the job seven months ago.

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Aston Villa dump Derby to mark Premier League return
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