Promotion Watch

Middlesbrough 0-2 Norwich City: Comfortable Canaries back in Premier League

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A pair of players which suffered through Norwich City’s relegation a year ago helped the Canaries back into the Premier League with two early goals.

Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond netted twice in three minutes to build a 2-0 lead that would last through the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium on Monday morning.

It’s called the richest game in the world, with an estimated $180 million on the line. It didn’t provide a wealth of scoring chances, though.

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After the clubs exchanged cross bar strikes from City’s Bradley Johnson and Boro’s Jelle Vosson, Norwich got on the board.

Jerome victimized Daniel Ayala and then dribbled toward ‘Boro keeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos at a tight angle before firing between the legs to make it 1-0 Canaries in the 12th minute.

source: Getty Images
Norwich City keeper John Ruddy

And it was 2-0 within minutes, as the 15th saw Nathan Redmond bury a low, right-footed shot into the side netting.

Middlesbrough, of course, opened the second half with a desperate attacking idea that lasted the duration. That provided the opportunity for dangerous Norwich counters, but the Canaries took a while to find those chances as ‘Boro worked to narrow the deficit.

In the end, though, there was a class difference between the Canaries and ‘Boro. Norwich rarely seemed troubled by their promotion foes, and Alex Neil’s side are going up.

 

LINEUPS

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Whitehead, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, Leadbitter, Adomah, Vossen (Kike, 68′), Tomlin, Bamford.

Norwich City: Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Olsson, Redmond (O’Neil, 87′), Howson, Tettey, Johnson, Hoolahan (Dorrans, 75′), Jerome (Grabban, 75′).

Goals: Jerome (12′), Redmond (15′)

Championship playoff final set: Boro, Norwich with Premier League promotion on the line

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The 2015 Championship promotion playoffs final is set for May 25, when Middlesbrough and Norwich City are set to do battle at Wembley Stadium with a place in the 2015-16 Premier League on the line. Here’s a quick recap of how Boro and Norwich advanced to this year’s playoff final.

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Middlesbrough 3-0 (5-1 agg.) Brentford

Norwich finished the regular season in fourth place, four points off the automatic promotion places. In the first leg of their playoffs semifinal against Brentford, Boro snatched a 2-1 victory in the away leg, which set them up nicely for the second leg to be played at the Riverside Stadium.

Friday afternoon saw Aitor Karanka’s side book their place in the final through three goals and a total sense of domination over Brentford. Lee Tomlin, Kike and Albert Adomah scored the goals on Friday, as the most goals-starved playoff team during the regular season advanced comfortably while allowing just a single goal over 180 minutes.

Norwich City 3-1 (4-2 agg.) Ipswich Town

Norwich, who were relegated from the Premier League last year, finished the regular season in third place, three points behind the automatic promotion places. In the first leg of their semifinal tie with Ipswich, the sides drew 1-1, setting up a winner-takes-all second leg at Carrow Road.

Ipswich’s Christophe Berra was sent off five minutes into Saturday’s second leg, leaving the Blues a man short for the remainder of the game. Wes Hoolahan converted the ensuing penalty kick, but Ipswich answered back through Tommy Smith right on the hour mark. Nathan Redmond (64th minute) and Cameron Jerome (76th) put the tie to bed with late goals.

The Monday, May 25 final between Boro and Norwich will be played at 10 am ET.

Championship playoff preview: Boro 2-1 Brentford, Norwich 1-1 Ipswich ahead of leg 2

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Over the course of the next two days, two Championship teams will book their places in what is widely referred to as “the most lucrative game in world soccer”: the Championship promotion playoff final.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s Promotion Watch coverage ]

With more than $200 million up for grabs via the Premier League’s various revenue streams, most notably its television rights deals, the Championship’s promotion playoffs offer a form of drama and tension that’s hard to come by anywhere else in the world.

Here’s how things stand ahead of Friday and Saturday’s semifinal second legs:

Middlesbrough 2-1 Brentford — Friday, 2:45 pm ET

Jelle Vossen and Fernando Amorebieta netted for Boro in the first leg, giving their side a slim lead ahead of the second leg at home. Andre Gray equalized the first leg, but the level scoreline was short-lived.

With no away-goals rule in the promotion playoffs, Boro and Brentford would find themselves heading to extra time, and perhaps penalties, with any one-goal Brentford victory.

Regular season meetings: Boro 4-0 Brentford; Brentford 0-1 Boro; Brentford 1-4 Boro (League Cup)

[MORE: 10-GOAL THRILLER sees Swindon into League 1 playoff final ]

Norwich City 1-1 Ipswich Town — Saturday, 7:15 am ET

Jonny Howson opened scoring in the first leg, before Paul Anderson equalized on the stroke of halftime. Saturday’s second leg will serve as the 99th East Anglian derby, and have more on the line than any of the 98 to come before it.

The scenarios are simple: win the game on Saturday, whether in regular time, extra time or penalties, and you’re into the playoff final, to be played at Wembley Stadium on May 25.

Regular season meetings: Ipswich 0-1 Norwich; Norwich 2-0 Ipswich

Halfway to Wembley: Championship’s promotion playoffs after one leg

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Watford and Bournemouth have already clinched their places in next season’s Premier League, while Burnley will head back to the Championship and QPR could join them in just a few hours.

On May 25, the final place in the Premier League will be decided at Wembley, when two of the teams ranked third through sixth in the Championship will contest the playoff final.

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Who’s on track to get to Wembley? One semifinal pairing is even and the other has a leader after one leg.

Brentford 1-2 Middlesbrough

As much drama as you’d like between the sides from London and the Northeast. Jelle Vossen headed a corner kick home in the 26th minute to give Middlesbrough a 1-0 lead, but Andre Gray’s takeaway goal made it 1-1 early in the second half. The clubs looked set to walk into the second legs even when Fernando Amorebieta’s first touch through traffic bounded into the Brentford goal. Friday brings the second leg

source: Getty Images

Ipswich Town 1-1 Norwich City

In what was the 98th East Anglian Derby, the two goals in Saturday’s first leg came within five minutes of each other. Jonny Howson’s 41st minute goal only provided a brief lead for the Canaries, as Paul Anderson netted in the 45th to send the match to halftime, and then back to Carrow Road for next Saturday’s second leg, even at 1.

Championship playoff preview: Norwich, Boro, Brentford, Ipswich vying for promotion

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We already know that Bournemouth and Watford will be promoted to the Premier League ahead of the 2015-16 season, going up as champions and runners-up of the Championship, respectively.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s Promotion Watch coverage ]

What we don’t know is, which one of the four teams in the Championship’s promotion playoffs will be joining them. On Friday and Saturday, we move one step closer to finding which one of Norwich City, Middlesbrough, Brentford or Ipswich Town will join the Cherries and the Hornets in the top flight of English football.

Brentford (5th) vs. Middlesbrough (4th) — Friday, 2:45 pm ET

Middlesbrough, who were last in the Premier League in 2009, enter Friday’s first leg after ending the regular season on a sour note (a 4-3 loss and 0-0 draw to end the season) and missing out not only on automatic promotion, but the top seed among the four playoff teams.

“We need to improve, because the last performances weren’t good,” Boro manager Karanka said. “I can’t forget the amazing season we’ve had and we need to be more together than ever. We’re a very good squad and we have our future in our hands.

Regular season meetings: Boro 4-0 Brentford; Brentford 0-1 Boro; Brentford 1-4 Boro (League Cup)

Ipswich (6th) vs. Norwich (3rd) — Saturday, 7:15 am ET

Norwich are bidding to gain promotion right back up to the Premier League one season after going down. Cameron Jerome (18 goals) and Bradley Johnson (15) led the Canaries in scoring during the regular season, with Lewis Grabban and Gary Hooper (12 each) adding to the Championship’s third-highest (88) scoring total.

Ipswich’s final-day defeat to Blackburn Rovers nearly cost the Blues their place in the playoffs, but managed to qualify through a superior goal differential to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Daryl Murphy (27 goals) is the only Ipswich player to reach double-digit scoring in the Championship.

Regular season meetings: Ipswich 0-1 Norwich; Norwich 2-0 Ipswich