Sport Soccer

Saturday 20 January 2018

Watford clinch top-flight return

Watford clinched their return to the Premier League yesterday afternoon as they enjoyed a 2-0 victory over Brighton to win promotion. The league-leading Hornets can only be caught by Bournemouth, who play tomorrow.

Watford ground out a workmanlike success at the Amex Stadium and Slavisa Jokanovic's side took the lead in the 29th minute when Troy Deeney rifled in his 21st goal of the season from close range.

Joe Bennett wasted an opportunity to grab the Seagulls a point late on, before Matej Vydra sealed the points with a cool finish in the last minute of stoppage-time.

McCarthy hails his deadly duo

Mick McCarthy paid tribute to strike duo Daryl Murphy and Freddie Sears after the front men earned Ipswich an edgy 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest to move them to the cusp of the Championship play-offs.

Sears' 83rd-minute winner was the decisive moment, his strike taking a wicked deflection off Forest full-back Michael Mancienne. The nervous finish was set up, inadvertently, by Town's Christophe Berra, after he deflected Ben Osborn's cross into his own net after Daryl Murphy had opened the scoring with his 25th of the season.

"Murph has had a great season and Freddie has made a big impact, we are delighted with him," said McCarthy.

Norwich slip up at Rotherham

Norwich's hopes of automatic promotion were dealt a blow as Rotherham scored a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw which has implications at both ends of the table. The Canaries, looked to be heading back into the top two after Gary Hooper's moment of brilliance had put them ahead.

But Jordan Bowery's 86th-minute header earned the Millers a vital point which keeps them out of the bottom three after Millwall's late capitulation in their 3-3 draw against Derby.

Jackett praises 'feisty' Wolves

Kenny Jackett could not contain his delight after seeing his Wolves side keep alive their play-off hopes with a 1-0 victory at Wigan. Benik Afobe's first-half goal from Bakary Sako's free-kick was the difference, with Wigan now requiring a miracle to escape the drop to League One. "I thought it was a very hard-fought, competitive, feisty game, as you would expect with Wigan having everything to play for," Jackett said. "They threw everything at us."

Leeds triumph in derby drama

Leeds United ran out 2-1 winners against Sheffield Wednesday in a hotly contested Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough. The visitors had to come from behind to win after Chris Maguire's first-half penalty.

However, second-half goals from Charlie Taylor and Steve Morison ensured Leeds' first win in six. Boss Neil Redfearn said: "This result has been coming."

Barca cruise past Espanyol

Neymar scored the opener to continue his rich vein of form as Barcelona won the La Liga derby against Espanyol 2-0 despite the dismissal of Jordi Alba early in the second half yesterday.

The Brazilian slotted home after Luis Suarez dummied an Alba cross 17 minutes. With Barca picking holes in their rival's defence, Lionel Messi doubled the lead after 25 minutes, before Alba was given two yellow cards in quick succession for protesting with the referee.

Curran hat-trick sinks Seasiders

Enda Curran proved to be Galway's lucky charm as the Tribesmen trounced Bray 5-0 at the Carlisle Grounds to claim their first SSE Airtricity League Premier Division away win of the season.

Curran bagged a first-half double (2nd minute and 41st minute) at the Carlisle Grounds last night before completing his hat-trick in the 54th minute. Ryan Connolly (65) and Pádraic Cunningham (75) put the gloss on the success.

The result lifts United three places to eighth in the table as they leapfrog Bray, Drogheda and Sligo.

Rovers held by lowly Limerick

Shamrock Rovers remained unbeaten but lost ground to leaders Dundalk after being held to a 1-1 draw by bottom-of-the table Limerick FC in Jackman Park.

The hosts took the lead on 13 minutes thanks to captain Shane Duggan, but from then on it was all Shamrock Rovers, with Ryan Brennan and Brandon Miele hitting the bar and Brennan seeing an effort chalked off for offside.

The visitors got their due on 86 minutes when Miele took advantage of a miss hit Danny North effort and slotted home beyond goalkeeper Conor O'Donnell.

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