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FA Cup wrap: Liverpool loses again; Almiron drives Newcastle win

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Previously impermeable Liverpool allowed three goals for the second-straight match in bowing out of the FA Cup in the fifth round.

Chelsea beat the Premier League leaders 2-0 at Stamford Bridge as one of two FA Cup matches on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Joining the Blues and Arsenal in the hat for the quarterfinal draw is Newcastle United. Sheffield United and Reading are in extra time at the Madejski Stadium, so check back for updates.

They don’t use a hat. They used to. Those were the days to be a haberdasher.

Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool

Liverpool has lost three in four in all competitions after an even match at Stamford Bridge.

Both sides turned to their depth after weekend disappointments, and Chelsea’s responded with a fine showing.

The opener came thanks to a series of Liverpool errors, Willian‘s hammered shot hitting Adrian square in the hands and finding its way over the line.

Kepa Arrizabalaga had a three-save sequence to keep it 1-0 at the break.

Barkley then seized on an unlucky Van Dijk flick and raced sixty yards past a sleepy Fabinho and cautious Joe Gomez to smash a rocket off the in-goal camera.

Pedro was denied 1v1 by Adrian before Olivier Giroud smashed off the bottom of the bar.

Liverpool brought on Roberto Firmino and James Milner in the 70th minute in a late bid to reverse the Reds’ fortunes. Mohamed Salah entered 10 minutes later, all to no avail.

Reading 1-1 Sheffield United (currently in extra time)

Hard-luck Blades striker David McGoldrick finally got his goal, the 32-year-old taking a Ben Osborn feed to make it 1-0. McGoldrick has an expected goal mark of more than seven in Premier League play, but had not found the net.

Reading leveled the score just before halftime through a George Puscas penalty. That was it for the goals in regulation.

West Brom 2-3 Newcastle United

Newcastle had several big chances early and were justly rewarded when Allan Saint-Maximin slipped Miguel Almiron into the box for a clinical finish past Baggies keeper Jonathan Bond.

Almiron made it a brace when Joelinton backheeled a pass toward the penalty spot for the Paraguayan’s sliding finish.

Valentino Lazaro got his first Newcastle goal within two minutes of restart thanks to a Bond error.

Longtime West Brom servant Matty Phillips pulled one back in the 74th minute off a Kenneth Zohore assist.

The Baggies took the slimmest of hopes from a pretty stoppage time connection from Kyle Edwards to Zohore, but a late penalty shout went unheard and the Championship-leading Baggies left the tournament.

 

Championship Focus: West Brom, Leeds improve promotion chances with wins

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By no means is the race for promotion within the Championship sealed and delivered, but West Brom and Leeds United continue to add to their lead on the rest of the pack.

Despite playing the final 13 minutes down a player after Romaine Sawyers saw a straight red card, the Baggies went on to earn a formidable 3-0 win over Bristol City.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Sheffield United loanee Callum Robinson opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, while Hal Robsun-Kanu sealed his brace with 11 minutes left in regular time. With the victory, Wes Brom extends their league unbeaten streak to five matches, and their total point to 66.

At Elland Road, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United registered their first back-to-back wins since October, following a minimal-margin victory over Reading. Leeds holds a five-point cushion on third-place Fulham.

Meanwhile, with goals quick fire goals from Paul Gallagher and Alan Browne over a four-minute stretch against an aching Hull City, Preston moved into play-off contention.

Saturday’s results

Brentford 2-2 Blackburn
Bristol City 0-3 West Brom
Swansea City 3-1 Huddersfield
Wigan Athletic 1-0 Millwall
Barnsley 1-0 Middlesbrough
Birmingham 3-3 Sheffield Wednesday
Nottingham Forest 0-0 QPR
Preston 2-1 Hull City
Charlton 3-1 Luton Town
Stoke City 2-0 Cardiff City
Leeds United 1-0 Reading

Championship Focus: Promotion favorites West Brom, Fulham drop points; Leeds earn vital win

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Despite major activity on Saturday, little change took place at the top of the Championship table, with only second-place Leeds United managing to earn three points out of all the top-seven sides.

Luke Ayling’s goal in the 16th minute was the lone goal in Leeds’ one-sided match against Bristol City.

Leaders West Brom, who are now only hold a four-point lead on Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, gave up a leveling stoppage-time goal to fifth-place Nottingham Forest at the Hawthorns.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Matty Cash’s injury-time strike, snaps the Baggies three-match winning streak and hands them their 12th draw of the season.

No other performance caught eyes as much as bottom-dwellers Barnsley’s 3-0 thumping of third-place Fulham. It’s Fulham’s first 3-0 loss since mid-November – a 3-0 defeat to Hull City.

Barnsley midfield orchestrator Cauley Woodrow bagged a brace, while Jacob Brown added his own six minutes into the second half as the last place side earned just their sixth win of the season.

Saturday’s results

West Brom 2-2 Nottingham Forest
Leeds United 1-0 Bristol City
Cardiff City 2-2 Wigan Athletic
Birmingham 1-1 Brentford
Derby County 1-1 Huddersfield
Sheffield Wednesday 0-3 Reading
Birmingham 1-1 Brentford
Derby County 1-1 Huddersfield
Sheffield Wednesday 0-3 Reading
Charlton 0-2 Blackburn
Fulham 0-3 Barnsley
Preston 0-1 Millwall
Middlesbrough 0-1 Luton Town
QPR 4-2 Stoke City

Championship focus: West Brom go 6 points clear; Fulham stumble at Millwall

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A roundup of the top-of-the-table action in the EFL Championship, where nine points separate places 1 through 7, and three points is the difference between third place and seventh…

[ MORE: The race for Premier League promotion is red-hot ]

Reading 1-2 West Bromwich Albion

West Brom capitalized on Leeds United’s slip-up to go six points clear at the top of the Championship table with a dozen games left to play. The Baggies fell behind on an early penalty, but fought back into the game before halftime and went ahead for good shortly thereafter.

George Puscas put Reading ahead after 11 minutes, but Matheus Pereira put home his own rebound to make it 1-1 in the 26th and Kyle Bartley completed the comeback with a looping header to the far post four minutes into the second half.

West Brom have spent the vast majority of the season occupying either first or second place in the table, and appear headed for a return to the PL after two seasons of regrouping in the second division.

[ MORE: Report: Chelsea closing in on Hakim Ziyech deal ]

Millwall 1-1 Fulham

No side had more to gain from Leeds’ draw with fourth-place Brentford than Fulham, who entered Wednesday a point back for the second automatic promotion place. A win would have seen the Cottagers into second place ahead of a critical stretch of their schedule (five of their next seven opponents currently reside in the top-10).

Alas, it was a disappointing, largely listless display from both sides at The Den as Millwall held the promotion hopefuls to a 1-1 draw.

Aleksandar Mitrovic fired Fulham ahead after just three minutes but Millwall were level through Jon Dadi Bodvarsson just four minutes later, and that was all the scoring there would be in east London. Rather than going two points clear of third, Fulham remain third and sit two points clear of fourth.

Elsewhere in the Championship

Stoke City 0-2 (6th) Preston North End
(7th) Bristol City 3-2 Derby County
Huddersfield Town 0-3 (10th) Cardiff City
Luton Town 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday

The race for Premier League promotion is red hot

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With the top flight title race fading fast as Liverpool pummels the Premier League into oblivion in record fashion, an appreciation can be had for what the Reds are accomplishing. That is for another time.

For now, we are going to take a moment to appreciate the race below them. There is a red-hot battle for Premier League promotion that is tighter than we’ve seen in a while.

Y’all, the Championship is LIT.

West Brom sits atop the league with 59 points from 31 matches, and the Baggies seem a solid bet to make their way back to the Premier League after a short one-season dip. Below them, a battle rages that could even threaten the top dogs should West Brom slip even a little.

[ MORE: Chelsea closes in on Ziyech deal ]

Leeds United sits second, occupying an automatic promotion position as they have for most season. That may change today. As Leeds stands on 56 points after its draw with Brentford yesterday, Fulham lurks just a point back, and with a match today against fellow Londoners Millwall, a win for the Whites would see them knock Leeds off the top two for the first time since early November.

Behind Fulham is Brentford with 54 points, level with fifth-placed Nottingham Forest and only ahead thanks to its league-best +27 goal differential. Yes, you read that right, the league leader in goal differential is in fourth.

Preston North End in sixth and Bristol City in seventh are each level on 50, meaning the gap from second to seventh is a measly six points. Things could get truly insane down the stretch.

Of the top seven teams, five of them have lost at least once in their last five matches, with only Fulham and Preston owning pristine form of late. West Brom had lost just once all Championship season until the holidays hit and suddenly they’ve dropped three of their last seven. Leeds is facing a full-on collapse, having won just twice since mid-December and losing four of its last six, with just four points gained in that span. Fulham is in good form with four wins in its last five, but they are living on the edge having skated by via a one-goal margin in each of their last seven victories and 10 of their last 11. Brentford would be formidable if the Bees could figure out their road form, with six of their nine losses coming away from Griffin Park. Nottingham Forest can’t get out of its own way, following up a signature 2-0 win over Leeds with a 1-0 gack attack at home to 21st placed Charlton Athletic last time out.

All this mayhem makes each match critically important – and therefore tense as hell. Fulham today could move into an automatic qualifying spot with a win, but if they fail to beat Millwall, it could open them to fall as far as fifth. If this pace keeps up, theoretically a team that had a shot to finish with an automatic qualifying spot could end up out of the playoffs altogether with a few poor results late in the season. Building room for error in the next month or two will be critical for teams that wish to have a chance down the stretch.

There are some critical matches coming up as well. West Brom plays Nottingham Forest on Saturday that has a make-or-break feel to it for both sides, especially the Baggies who then have Bristol City next. Leeds plays Bristol City on Saturday hoping to put a finger in the leaky dike. Fulham has a three-game stretch through March that sees them play Bristol City, Brentford, and Leeds looking to prove they belong. As you can see, the Robins have a ton of chances to yank themselves up the table.

For some of these teams like West Brom and Fulham, they are looking to return to the Premier League after short spells down below. For many of the teams fighting for promotion, however, fans are hoping to see their beloved clubs crack the top flight for the first time in quite a while. Leeds United, a storied club that qualified for the Champions League with a third-place finish in 2000, hasn’t been back since relegation in 2003. Another storied club, Forest has not been back to the Premier League since dumped in 1999. Three clubs have never been in the Premier League: Bristol City was relegated from the First Division back in 1979, Preston hasn’t seen top-flight action since 1961, and Brentford hasn’t been in the top flight since 1947 with just five total top flight seasons in club history.

There are still battles to be won in the English top flight, with teams like Chelsea, Tottenham, and Sheffield United battling for a Champions League place while others further down the table fight for their Premier League lives. Still, the race for promotion is proving to be a wild and crazy one just a few blocks down the road.