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Where Premier League promotion hopefuls stand with one match to go

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The second automatic Premier League promotion spot won’t be decided until the final day of the Championship, nor will the last spot in the promotion playoffs nor two relegation slots.

And the match-ups tilt heavily toward those with top-flight aspirations facing clubs fearing the drop.

Call it the haves versus the have-and-hope-to-keeps.

[ MORE: Slimani charged, Salah not ]

So, yeah, it’s going to be tense across most of the near-dozen 7:30 a.m. ET encounters

Start here:

AUTOMATICALLY YOURS: Either Cardiff City or Fulham will gain instant promotion to the Premier League, with the Bluebirds controlling their own destiny.

Cardiff vs. Reading
Birmingham City vs. Fulham

There’s an added blow to finishing third, and that’s the slowed momentum or realizing it’s going to take a lot more work. Of the last 15 playoff winners, only five were the third place team in the regular season.

Playoff fates of No. 3 teams
2017 — Reading lost final in penalties to No. 5 Huddersfield Town)
2016 — Brighton lost in the semifinals (No. 4 Hull promoted)
2015 — Norwich City won the playoffs
2014 — Derby County lost final to No. 4 QPR
2013 — Watford lost final to No. 5 Crystal Palace
2012 — West Ham United won the playoffs
2011 — Swansea City won the playoffs
2010 — Nottingham Forest lost in semis (No. 6 Blackpool promoted)
2009 — Sheffield United lost final to No. 5 Burnley
2008 — Hull City won the playoffs
2007 — Derby County won the playoffs
2006 — Brentford lost in semifinals (No. 5 Barnsley promoted)
2005 — Ipswich Town lost in semis (No. 6 West Ham promoted)
2004 — Sunderland lost in semis (No. 6 Crystal Palace promoted)
2003 — Sheffield United lost final to No. 5 Wolves

— PLAYOFF SPOTS: The third-place team will join Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, and the sixth-place team in the playoffs, slated for May 11-26.

Derby County has 72 points, two more than Preston North End and three more than Millwall.

The Rams also have a nine-goal advantage on both in goal differential, so a home draw against 21st place Barnsley would be enough (although the visitors are playing for their Championship lives).

Preston also hosts a relegation-threatened club in Burton Albion, while Millwall entertains a very good, but fate-determined Aston Villa.

— RELEGATION ZONE: Three teams will go down to League One, and Sunderland is the only one assured of the drop.

Here’s how it all looks in the race to avoid 22nd and 23rd.

19. Reading — 43 pts, minus-22
20. Birmingham City — 43 pts, minus-32
21. Barnsley — 41 pts, minus-21
22. Burton Albion — 41 pts, minus-42
23. Bolton Wanderers — 40 pts, minus-36

Aside from Bolton, those teams have all been mentioned as opponents of clubs with plenty at stake. The Wanderers are home to Nottingham Forest.

Reading is away to Cardiff, Birmingham home to Fulham, Barnsley at Derby, and Burton away to Preston.

No club can honestly feel safe with just a point.

Checking the Championship with two weeks to go

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There are two match days left before the Football League Championship playoffs, and there’s still no clarity outside of who will finish first.

The champion Wolverhampton Wanderers have a 12-point lead on second place, but there are three teams still alive for the second automatic promotion spot and technically seven who can make it into the playoffs.

[ MORE: LFC 2-1 Roma | Klopp reacts ]

May 6 is the final day, and all kickoffs will take place at 12:30 p.m. ET

Instant promotion battle

Cardiff City, Fulham, and Aston Villa are the three sides aiming to finish second, with Cardiff currently holding the advantage. Their 86 points are one more than Fulham, and four clear of Aston Villa.

2. Cardiff (86 pts, +28): at Hull City, vs. Reading
3. Fulham (85 pts, +34): vs. Sunderland, at Birmingham City
4. Aston Villa (82 pts, +31): vs. Derby County, at Millwall

Projection: Cardiff has a decent run-in, but Fulham’s path will carry it past them should the Bluebirds stumble at all. Aston Villa faces two sides aiming for the playoffs, and is probably plotting out its strategy for the playoffs themselves.

Playoff spots

Aside from the two above sides who fail to grab second, there are seven other sides within varying degrees of probability for a playoff spot. Middlesbrough and Derby County hold fifth and sixth now, but Millwall and Brentford are within a win of the Top Six and Preston North End, Bristol City, or Sheffield United could get in with a win and help.

5. Middlesbrough (72 pts, +20): vs. Millwall, at Ipswich Town
6. Derby County (71 pts,+19): at Aston Villa, vs. Barnsley
7. Millwall (69 pts, +12): at Middlesbrough, vs. Aston Villa
8. Brentford (68 pts, +12): at Barnsley, vs. Hull City
9. Preston (67 pts, +9): at Sheffield United, vs. Burton Albion
10. Bristol City (66 pts, +10): at Nottingham Forest, vs. Sheffield Utd
11. Sheffield United (66 pts, +7): vs. Preston, at Bristol City

Projection: Brentford is the only club without at least one date against a promotion hopeful, but everyone under 8th will be rooting for Derby to lose out (and probably Boro to draw Millwall?). Preston and Sheffield are likely staging a knockout match on Saturday. Expect Tony Pulis and Boro to avoid dropping from the Top Six, an Derby should manage its fate well even with Villa on the fixture list. Yet don’t be surprised if Brentford climbs into sixth even though the Bees have only claimed a point of six from their remaining opponents.

Stabbed 8 times, Millwall supporter saves lives in London attacks

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When confronted by knife-wielding terrorists in a London pub, Roy Larner called upon the name of his favorite soccer club.

“(Expletive) you, I’m Millwall.”

The Lions supporter, now being dubbed “The Lion of London Bridge”, wound up in intensive care after taking numerous wounds from knife-wielding attackers. His valor allowed many to escape the Black and Blue Steakhouse on Saturday night.

[ MORE: Man City close in on Bertrand, Walker ]

The 47-year-old was taken to intensive care after using his bare fists to battle the attackers, and there’s a petition at Change.Org to award Larner the George Cross for bravery. That’s the second highest honor in the United Kingdom honors system.

His take on what happened is fairly legendary. From The Independent:

“I stood in front of them trying to fight them off. Everyone else ran to the back. I was on my own against all three of them, that’s why I got hurt so much. It was just me, trying to grab them with my bare hands and hold on. I was swinging.

“I got stabbed and sliced eight times. They got me in my head, chest and both hands. There was blood everywhere.”

So matter-of-fact, and you have to love that his pride has him trying to explain why he “got hurt so much.” Roy, you were fighting three guys with knives. We don’t have experience with that particular terror, but we like to think we wouldn’t have to explain our injuries.

Tottenham cruises into FA Cup semis despite losing Kane early

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It was a tough task no matter where the match would take place, but Millwall stood no chance on Sunday at White Hart Lane.

[ MORE: Harry Kane limps off in first half for Spurs ]

Tottenham advanced to the FA Cup semifinals after picking up 6-0 win over Millwall, who currently plays in EFL League 1.

Sunday’s victory for Spurs means the Premier League side will join Arsenal, Manchester City and either Chelsea or Manchester United in this season’s FA Cup final four.

Heung-Min Son provided Spurs with a hat-trick after netting goals on both sides of halftime. Son did beautifully to cut in on his left foot and powered a curling effort into the far corner for his first of the day.

Then, the attacker was released from a Kieran Trippier long ball before knocking home his second finish. While Son’s final strike was surely a heartbreaker for keeper Tom King, the attacker’s powerful volley snuck its way between King’s legs for the day’s final goal.

Tottenham took the lead in the 30th minute when substitute Christian Eriksen netted for the hosts.

Millwall failed to clear their own box before Dele Alli chested down a skyward ball and Eriksen proceeded to smash his volley toward the far post and beyond the keeper.

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Five minutes later, Spurs nearly saw their advantage double when Victor Wanyama smashed a header off the crossbar following a corner kick.

Dele Alli added a fourth late on in the match when Eriksen picked out the England international at the far post for a tap-in finish in the 72nd minute.

Spurs put the match to bed seven minutes later when Son picked out Vincent Janssen inside the Millwall box, who then tucked home the game’s fifth goal.

The hosts dominated the possession and chances, as expected, but Pochettino’s group received an unexpected and unwanted twist after 10 minutes when Harry Kane was forced out of the match with an injury.

Kane went to ground moments earlier after unleashing a powerful shot inside the area that was turned out for a corner kick.

[ MORE: Guardiola believes upcoming fixtures will define Man City season ]

Spurs had a penalty shout in the 24th minute as Dele Alli appeared to be dragged over in the box by Millwall’s Tony Craig, however, referee Martin Atkinson opted to play on.

Harry Kane limps out of FA Cup quarterfinal with apparent injury

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Tottenham and England supporters alike will be holding their breath.

[ MORE: Guardiola believes upcoming fixtures will define Man City’s season ]

Just 10 minutes into Sunday’s FA Cup quarterfinal, Spurs striker Harry Kane exited the squad’s match against third-tier Millwall after going to ground moments earlier near the Millwall goal.

Kane was sent in on goal from a tight angle on the right side of the box, before unleashing a shot that forced Millwall goalkeeper Tom King to turn the effort out for a corner kick.

Upon replay, Kane appeared to twist his ankle as his shot was contested by a Millwall defender and immediately went to ground.

The extent of the 23-year-old’s injury is unknown at this stage, but England manager Gareth Southgate will surely be keeping a close eye ahead of the Three Lions’ upcoming friendly against Germany and subsequent UEFA World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

Southgate has yet to name his 23-man roster for the two matches, which will take place on March 22 and March 26, respectively.