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Steve Bruce on why he has sympathy for Middlesbrough duo Tony Pulis and Steve Gibson

Sam Johnstone claims the ball. PA Picture.
Sam Johnstone claims the ball. PA Picture.

Steve Bruce has backed Middlesbrough to bounce back from their play-off disappointment.

Bruce's Villa side beat Boro 1-0 over two legs to reach the Championship play-off final at Wembley on May 26 against Fulham.

There was wild scenes of celebration at Villa Park at the full-time whistle, after a toothless Boro display against a well-drilled Villa side.

Bruce though had sympathy for Pulis and Boro's owner Steve Gibson.

Bruce said: “It’s the worst thing to lose a play-off semi final. I have huge respect for Steve Gibson and Tony Pulis.

“He has been in the game a long time Steve and he is one of the good guys. I’m sure they will be successful, they deserve to be.

“It was a hard night but I wish them well.”

Boro only managed two shots on target over the two legs, both coming at the Riverside Stadium with the Teessiders not managing a single attempt on target in the second leg.

Bruce added: “What has got us through is defensively over two games, they have had two shots on target in two games.

“Defensively we have been good all season, to be sucessfull you have to be.

“Their keeper made a few good saves.

“The longer it goes, when they hit the crossbar you think ‘dear oh dear’ but that little bit of luck you need.”