Newcastle United bounced back into the Premier League at the first atempt as champions as they snatched the Championship title away from Brighton on a dramatic final day.
A huge boisterous crowd of 52,276 at St James’ Park witnessed goals from Ayoze Perez, Chancel Mbemba and Dwight Gayle as the Magpies secured a deserved 3-0 victory over Barnsley for Rafa Benitez team in front of owner Mike Ashley. Manager Benitez has insisted for weeks that promotion was the only objective, but as he prepares for the talks with Ashley which will determine whether or not he remains on Tyneside, he will do so with a bonus piece of silverware sitting in the trophy cabinet.
Barnsley keeper Adam Davies did well to turn Atsu’s fierce shot over the bar after the winger had tricked his way past Elder with the visitors under intense pressure, and he excelled himself a minute before the break to deny the same man as he fired hard and low towards the far post.
However Perez hd notched the first with a nice flick on to open the scoring after 23 minutes.
Substitute Massadio Haidara blazed over from 12 yards just before the break and Perez tested Davies seconds after it as Newcastle dominated but struggled to kill off the game.
That changed when Davies dived to save Perez’s stinging 59th-minute effort, only for Mbemba to follow up from close range and make it 2-0.
Davies was called up once again 10 minutes later to tip over Mitrovic’s header and Shelvey struck the foot of the post two minutes later, but opposite number Rob Eliot had to make late saves from substitutes Marley Watkins and Elliot Lee to preserve his clean sheet.
Substitute Gayle added a third at the death and news of Villa’s equaliser sent the home fans into raptures.
Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw against Brighton was due to the Villa Park club’s goal from Jack Grealish in the last minute of a nervous encounter between the two clubs. Brighton should have wrapped up the game with a couple of chances and took the lead with a Glenn Murray penalty for which Nathan Baker was went off after clipping Sam Baldock in the box.
That was after 63 minutes but the 10 man Villa came back well to snatch a point.
With Newcastle Champions and Brighton runner up the four play off places up for grabs were all assured going into Sunday’s final games of the Championship. ready stayed in 3rd after thumping stuggling Burton 4-2. Reading had led 3-0 and were cruising it before two goals in 3 minutes for Burton put them right back in the game only for Grabben to clinch a 4th for the away side with six minutes to play.
Sheffield Wednesday nabbed 4th place despite losing 2-1 at home to an inform rampant Fulham who finish the season in 6th and play Reading in the play off semi Final.
Huddersfield finished in 5th after losing to Cardiff in a heavy 3-0 defeat and looked out of sorts in a poor run in to the season where they ended with a minus 2 goal difference. Fulham below them ended with a plus 28 goalscoring record Huddersfield will entertain Sheffield Wednesday in the other play off match.
Down at the bottom of the Championship it was mayhem as 3 big teams were battling for survival, Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers and it was certainly a day for drama as all three teams won which meant relegation for Blackburn Rovers after winning the Premier League in 1995.
To rub salt into the wounds Blackburn were relegated to League One on goal difference, despite beating Brentford at Griffin Park by a superb 3-1 margin. Rovers began in the final relegation place, level on points with Forest with an inferior goal difference.
Charlie Mulgrew’s free-kick and Danny Guthrie’s strike put Rovers ahead, before Lasse Vibe flicked one back. Craig Conway’s spot-kick made it 3-1, as Bees’ Harlee Dean saw red but Forest and Birmingham City wins sent Rovers down.
Britt Assombalonga grabbed a brace as Nottingham Forest avoided relegation on goal difference with an emphatic win over Ipswich 3-0 victory at a sell out City Ground.
Assombalonga’s penalty settled early nerves and Chris Cohen’s deflected strike made it 2-0 after the break.
With relegation rivals Blackburn and Birmingham both winning, Forest’s safety was still not certain. 1-0 or 2-1 would have seen Forest and Blackburn equal so they had to be careful and not concede or put the result beyond doubt and they did the latter when Assombalonga then sealed victory with a fine solo strike to ensure Blackburn drop out and Forest stay in the Championship.
Harry’s luck was on the shine again as old Redknapp did another saviour act as Che Adams scored the only goal of the game at Ashton Gate as Birmingham ensured survival in the Championship. With both Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers winning their games, Blues also had to win to stay up.
But Redknapp’s side kept cool to earn their second straight victory. Blues’ goal came on 16 minutes from striker Adams, only playing as last week’s sending off was overturned following the game against Huddersfield Town.
Relegated Wigan finished the season with a 1-1 home draw against Leeds United and bottom placed team Rotherham who have had a horrible season by anyone’s standards ended on a brightish note by not losing. Their final match of the campaign also ended 1-1 although Tom Ince rescued Derby with a late penalty.
Finally Wolves beat Prestom 1-0 whilst Norwich hammered QPR 4-0 in a game of little relevance but a nice way to end the season nonetheless.
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