Leeds edge closer to Premier League return

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Leeds United are edging closer to a return to the Premier League.

Whisper it.

Leeds are top of the Championship table and have an eight-point cushion over third place Brentford as automatic qualification seems all but certain heading into the final seven games of the season. Leeds have four games left and they all come against teams battling against relegation. If Leeds win their four home games, that will all but secure promotion.

We’ve been here before, many time, with Leeds over the last 16 years, including last season under current boss Marcelo Bielsa as they lost in the playoffs.

Leeds side brushed aside fourth-place Fulham at Elland Road Saturday, with Patrick Bamford giving them an early lead then Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Harrison sealing the win in the second half in empty stadium.

The 3-0 victory means they are three points clear at the top as they recovered from losing to Cardiff City last week in their first game since the restart in England’s second tier.

Leeds United fans will not need reminding that they haven’t been in the top-flight since 2004 and they are now agonizingly close to a long-awaited return.

Elsewhere in the Championship, Cardiff City grabbed a big win away at playoff rivals Preston North End to remain in sixth place, while third-place Brentford beat second-place West Brom to stay in the hunt for the automatic promotion spots as the Bees are five points behind the Baggies.

Neil Warnock won his first game in charge of Middlesbrough to boost their survival hopes, while Charlton, Wigan and Luton all won as Swansea and Blackburn Rovers lost ground in the playoff hunt.

Derby County are lurking ominously close to the playoffs too, as Wayne Rooney scored what turned out to be the game-winner from the penalty spot right on half time in a heated clash. USMNT and Reading center back Matt Miazga was sent off after the final whistle as he clashed with Derby’s Tom Lawrence and both were shown red cards.

Championship results

Brentford 1-0 West Brom – Friday
Preston 1-3 Cardiff
Swansea 0-1 Luton
Charlton 1-0 QPR
Barnsley 0-0 Millwall
Derby 2-1 Reading
Stoke 0-2 Middlesbrough
Birmingham 3-3 Hull
Wigan 2-0 Blackburn
Leeds 3-0 Fulham