Cameron Jerome

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Fulham overturn Derby deficit to reach promotion final

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Following a four-year run in the Championship, Fulham now find themselves 90 — or, perhaps 120 — minutes from a return to the Premier League after overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit to Derby County in the two sides’ promotion playoffs semifinal on Monday.

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Cameron Jerome put the Rams into pole position by scoring the only goal in first leg at Pride Park, but Ryan Sessegnon and Denis Odoi each netted during the second half on Monday to send Slavisa Jokanovic’s side to Wembley Stadium where they’ll face either Aston Villa or Middlesbrough in the “world’s most lucrative game” in two weeks’ time. Villa lead Boro 1-0 after winning away at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.

Sessegnon hammered a loose, bouncing ball past Scott Carson to bring the Cottagers back to level terms on aggregate, and whipped in the perfect corner-kick service for Odoi to rise above the crowd and head home the second.

[ WATCH: Scenes from Man City’s wild PL title parade ]

The May 26 final will be Fulham’s first trip to Wembley since 1975.

U.S. men’s national team defender Tim Ream, who’s likely to strongly considered for Fulham’s Player of the Season award, played all 90 minutes and turned in another of his typically strong defensive performances.

Derby County tops Fulham 1-0 in first leg of playoff semifinal

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Fulham may be running out of steam at the worst possible time.

After a 24-match unbeaten run that lasted nearly half the Championship season, Fulham failed to secure automatic promotion with a final-day loss to Birmingham, and now the Whites find themselves in a hole midway through their playoff semifinal matchup against Derby County.

The Whites dominated 74% of the possession at Pride Park in the first leg of the playoff semifinal matchup, but former Stoke City and Crystal Palace striker Cameron Jerome hit against the run of play on 34 minutes, rising higher than Southampton loanee Matt Targett to head home the game’s only goal. Fulham built into the match in the second half, but could not find an equalizer as Kevin McDonald smashed the crossbar in their best chance with around 20 minutes to go.

Fulham has traditionally struggled against bunkered opponents, and the free-flowing attack was stifled by a quality defensive shape from the home side. Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson was also required to produce a fabulous save that kept out Tom Cairney in the 64th minute.

The match will see a quick turnaround as the two sides meet again at Craven Cottage, with Fulham needing a goal to force extra time and two to move on, while Derby could put one foot in Wembley with a single road goal.

Fulham, for their stunning form at times this season, has still never won a playoff match in club history, falling to Reading across two legs last season and now with a loss in the opening leg this time around. Whoever makes it through to Wembley for the playoff final will meet either Aston Villa or Middlesbrough, with those two sides set to meet for the first leg on Saturday at Riverside Stadium.

Championship focus: Brighton go unbeaten in four, Burton upsets Norwich

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The race for the top six in England’s Championship continues to captivate as the regular season hits the home stretch.

[ MORE: FA Cup roundup: Man City toothless vs. Huddersfield and more ]

Barnsley 0-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

The league leaders continue to boost themselves toward promotion after extending their unbeaten streak to four matches on Saturday behind a brace from Sam Baldock. The Brighton striker netted twice after the halftime break to give his side the temporary lead at the top of the Championship, two points ahead of Newcastle. Meanwhile, Barnsley fall nine points out of the coveted sixth position in the promotion playoff following the team’s defeat.

Burton Albion 2-1 Norwich City

Michael Kightly netted in the second half to help 20th place Burton knock off Norwich on Saturday at the Pirelli Stadium. Cauley Woodrow moved Burton ahead after 25 minutes before Cameron Jerome controversially equalized seven minutes into the second stanza. The loss for Norwich moves the Canaries seven points out of sixth place, while Burton now has a bit of breathing room above the relegation zone with a four-point cushion.

Nottingham Forest 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Almen Abdi and Fernando Forestieri gave Wednesday a 2-0 advantage early into the second half, and while Nottingham did manage to pull one back it wasn’t enough to upset sixth-place side. Ross McCormack could have put the hosts ahead in the 27th minute when the Forest man missed a penalty kick and Abdi went down to the other end and put Wednesday in front.

Elsewhere around the Championship

Wigan 0-0 Preston North End
Ipswich Town 1-1 Leeds
Birmingham City 1-4 Queens Park Rangers
Cardiff City 5-0 Rotherham United

Everton 3-0 Norwich: Toffees trounce Canaries in Tim Howard’s finale

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James McCarthy, Kevin Mirallas, and Leighton Baines did their part to send Tim Howard off in style, and Norwich had little to offer the American’s goal as Everton finished a trying season on a high at Goodison Park.

With former manager Roberto Martinez dismissed just days ago, Joe Royle and David Unsworth teamed up to take charge of the Toffees, and they put the home side into the offseason with some positives to look forward to.

Howard was forced into his first save on 9 minutes when a cross from Ivo Pinto from the right was intended for Cameron Jerome, but Howard was able to clear the danger over the end line. Everton went close down the other end as Gareth Barry pilfered the Norwich midfield and found Romelu Lukaku, but his low shot was saved acrobatically by John Ruddy.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Everton went in front just before the 20 minute mark thanks to a fantastic counter-attack. Howard fed James McCarthy from the box, and the 25-year-old burst forward through the middle. He found Tom Davies on the right, who completely bungled Graham Dorrans. McCarthy picked up the loose ball and rifled home a sparkling shot to give Everton the opening goal.

Both teams lost a player early to injury, with Norwich needing to sub Martin Olsson off after just 10 minutes, while Everton’s Matthew Pennington was replaced just before the half-hour mark. Just after the Toffees sub, they had a chance for a second as Lukaku sprung countrymate Kevin Mirallas free down the left, but his tight shot beat Rudy and also beat the post.

[ MORE: Final Premier League standings ]

Norwich had a chance to equalize in the 41st minute as Cameron Jerome laid off perfectly for Matt Jarvis, but his shot went miles over the bar. They would rue the miss. Moments later, a ball for Gareth Barry over the top for Lukaku forced Robbie Brady to pull him back, and as Lukaku went to ground, the referee pointed to the spot. Leighton Baines slammed home the penalty, and Everton went 2-0 up.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Straight after the break, the Toffees got a third. James McCarthy on the right sprung substitute Jonjoe Kenny down the edge of the box, and he crossed to the other side for a wide open Kevin Mirallas, who finished strongly to put the Toffees clean through.

The three points means Everton jumps above Swansea on goal differential, as the two teams finish the season with 47 points. Norwich end the year in 19th, heading to the Championship having just collected 34 points on the campaign.

Norwich 0-1 Manchester United: Mata keeps top four hopes alive

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  • Mata scores games only goal
  • United one point off top four
  • Norwich lost four straight
  • Martial, Damian injured

Manchester United beat Norwich City 1-0 at Carrow Road on Saturday to boost their top four hopes and send the Canaries spiraling towards relegation.

Juan Mata scored the only goal of the game 18 minutes from time to give Louis Van Gaal‘s men a vital three points from a scrappy encounter.

With the win United sits one point behind fourth-placed Manchester City, with both teams having two games to play. Norwich remain in the relegation zone and are now two points from safety with two games to go.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Anthony Martial was injured in the warm up and in the first half the Red Devils also lost Matteo Darmian through injury with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson replacing him.

A cagey first half saw David De Gea without a shot to save, while Cameron Jerome cleared from Wayne Rooney at the other end. Chris Smalling then headed Mata’s corner from six yards overwhen he should have scored as United had the better chances.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

In the second half the game opened up with the away team pushing forward and United, somewhat inevitably, took the lead in the 72nd minute.

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Sebastien Bassong misjudged a header and Rooney raced clear. United’s captain kept his cool and teed up Mata who slotted home coolly. 1-0 to the Red Devils.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Late on United could have increased their lead as Memphis flashed a free kick just wide of the post but they held on to grab a vital win in their fight to finish in the top four.