Norwich on brink of Premier League return as Leeds lose
Third-placed Leeds United failed to take advantage of Championship leaders Norwich’s slip, losing 2-0 away to Brentford in the late kick-off.
Only the top two at the end of the season are guaranteed elevation to English football’s lucrative top flight. The third promotion place goes to the winners of a series of play-off matches between the teams finishing third to sixth.
Monday’s results left Norwich six points clear of Leeds with only a maximum of six available from the final two games of the regular campaign.
Norwich, who need just one more point to be sure of promotion, are also 10 goals better off on goal difference.
Leeds fell three points behind second-placed Sheffield United, who won earlier in the day.
Leeds could yet overhaul their Yorkshire rivals, but they could also be eliminated before they welcome Aston Villa to Elland Road next Sunday.
Norwich and Sheffield United — who also have a better goal difference than Marcelo Bielsa’s men — both in action on Saturday.
At Stoke, Norwich settled into their groove early on with Cuban-born striker Onel Hernandez firing them into the lead in the 24th minute.
However, veteran Welsh international defender Ashley Williams levelled two minutes into the second-half with a header at the back post.
The visitors went back in front — shortly after Stoke had missed a great chance to take the lead — as the Championship’s leading scorer Teemu Pukki scored his 28th league goal of the season with a deft header.
But the Canaries lead lasted just two minutes as Thomas Edwards restored parity with a superb strike.
– Leeds’ penalty pain –
At Griffin Park, a major decision went against Leeds in the 17th minute when, with the match still scoreless, referee Keith Stroud denied them what seemed a clear penalty after Brentford defender Julian Jeanvier up-ended Patrick Bamford inside the box.
West London side Brentford rubbed salt into Leeds’ wounds with a goal a minute before half-time from French striker Neal Maupay, who was played in by Sergi Canos.
Canos doubled Brentford’s lead just after the hour when he lifted the ball over goalkeeper Kiko Casilla after a quick break.
Earlier, Sheffield United — who have lost just one of their last 16 league games — enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win away to Hull.
Ireland international David McGoldrick scored twice early on with Enda Stevens adding a third shortly before half-time.
Aston Villa cemented their place in the play-offs with a club record 10th successive league victory, Jonathan Kodjia’s goal securing a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Millwall.
Meanwhile Derby manager Frank Lampard can entertain hopes of contesting the play-offs in his first season in charge after Harry Wilson scored twice in stoppage time to secure a 2-0 win over QPR that put the Rams sixth on goal difference.
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