Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Championship review: Watford slip hands title to Bournemouth as beaten Ipswich squeeze into play-offs

Bournemouth players celebrate with the Championship trophy
Bournemouth players celebrate with the Championship trophy Newsdesk

A dramatic final day in the Championship saw Bournemouth crowned champions and Brentford earn a play-off place.

The title looked destined for Watford who, prior to kick-off, held a one-point lead at the top of the table, as they went into stoppage time 1-0 up against Sheffield Wednesday.

But, just as the Owls had pooped Bournemouth's promotion party last month with a late equalising goal, they did so again - but on a much grander scale. Atdhe Nuhiu's shot looped agonisingly over Heurelho Gomes to cancel out Matej Vydra's opening goal for Watford and it finished 1-1.

Bournemouth were already two goals ahead at Charlton by the time Vydra scored, with Matt Ritchie and Harry Arter getting the Cherries off to a flying start in London. As news of Nuhiu's equaliser began to filter through, Ritchie scored his second goal and Eddie Howe's men ended the season in style, as champions, with a 3-0 victory.

The race to fill the remaining two play-off places was just as enthralling. Brentford, seventh at the start of the afternoon, eventually finished fifth in the table courtesy of a 3-0 win against relegated Wigan. Alex Pritchard, Ramallo Jota and Andre Gray were on target, and James Tarkowski could even afford to see his last-minute penalty saved.

The Bees, who face Middlesbrough in the play-offs, replaced Derby in the top six after the Rams capitulated at home to Reading. Steve McClaren's men, beaten at Wembley last season, made an awful start as Kwesi Appiah put the Royals ahead after two minutes.

Darren Bent saw his penalty brilliantly saved by Adam Federici just before half-time as Derby were denied a way back into the game. Michael Hector's goal and a late Garath McCleary penalty condemned the Rams to a 3-0 defeat.

Mick McCarthy's Ipswich were also beaten but, unlike Derby, managed to hold on to their play-off spot and face an East Anglia showdown with Norwich.

Daryl Murphy put Mick McCarthy's team ahead in the second minute but Blackburn turned the match on its head with goals from Jordan Rhodes, Craig Conway and Rudy Gestede. Murphy replied for Ipswich from the penalty spot and a 3-2 loss was enough for the Tractor Boys. Wolves won 4-2 at home to relegated Millwall but they missed out on the play-offs on goal difference.

Nouha Dicko's double put the hosts in control and Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Bakary Sako were also on the scoresheet; Aiden O'Brien and Jamie Philpot pulled goals back for Millwall.

Norwich defeated Fulham 4-2, and Cardiff beat Nottingham Forest 2-1, while Birmingham clinched a 1-0 victory at Bolton.

Elsewhere, it was goalless between Middlesbrough and Brighton and Leeds and Rotherham. It was also 0-0 at Bloomfield Road between Blackpool and Huddersfield, when the match was abandoned due a pitch invasion..

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