English Championship: Late drama sees Birmingham City stay up, Brighton seal playoff spot

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The final minute of the final day of the 46-game Championship season saw a dramatic finale which sparked scenes of jubilation and despair across England’s second-tier.

We now know the four teams who will battle it out for the final promotion spot to the Premier League via the playoffs, as the regular season went down to the wire.

In stoppage time Brighton and Hove Albion scored through Leo Ulloa as the striker headed home to give the Seagulls a 2-1 win away at Nottingham Forest and seal the final playoff spot.

That meant Reading, who were relegated from the Premier League season, had to beat already promoted Burnley at home but the Royals came up short as they drew 2-2 and missed out on the playoffs to Brighton by just one point.

At the bottom a former PL side, Birmingham City, were just 60 seconds away from relegation to League One but Paul Caddis scored in stoppage time to spark wild scenes at the Reebok Stadium as the Blues drew 2-2 away at Bolton and relegated Doncaster Rovers in the process. Lee Clark’s men battled superbly to stave off relegation as the 2011 League Cup winners are in severe financial turmoil off the pitch. At least now their status as a second-tier teams is secured.

So in the Championship the four teams who will battle it out for the one remaining spot in the Premier League next season are Derby County, Queens Park Rangers, Wigan Atheltic and Brighton. Leicester City won the league title as Champions with 102 points, while Burnley secured second place and the second automatic promotion spot.

The three teams who suffered relegation to League One are Yeovil, Barnsley and Doncaster.

Here are the fulls results on an incredible final day of action in the Championship.

RESULTS – Final day of English Championship (second-tier)

Barnsley 2-3 QPR
Blackburn 4-3 Wigan
Blackpool 0-3 Charlton
Bolton 2-2 Birmingham
Ipswich 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Leeds 1-1 Derby
Leicester 1-0 Doncaster *defeat means Doncaster are relegated
Millwall 1-0 Bournemouth
Nottingham Forest 1-2 Brighton *win means Brighton make the playoffs
Reading 2-2 Burnley
Watford 1-4 Huddersfield
Yeovil 1-4 Middlesbrough

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.

PHOTO: Liverpool unveils 125th anniversary kit for next season

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Liverpool rolled out its 125th anniversary kit, featuring a special crest to celebrate the occasion.

The Liver bird has 1892 on one side and 2017 on the other, with “125 YEARS” spelled out underneath the club’s emblem.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The red shirt with a gold crest has a white V-neck and white at the ends of the sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green.

The jersey will be available on May 19, and was announced last month.

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Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.