Middlesbrough are back in the Premier League after shoot-out worth £170 million
Thousands of fans storm the pitch at Riverside Stadium after 1-1 draw with Brighton ensures top-flight football for next season; Burnley seal Championship title
Middlesbrough are back in the Premier League after a 1-1 draw with 10-man Brighton & Hove Albion in their multi-million pound promotion decider on Saturday while Burnley sealed the Championship title with a 3-0 victory at Charlton Athletic.
Middlesbrough needed just one point and Brighton had to win in the last game of the season to secure automatic promotion to the top flight in a game estimated to be worth £170 million (HK$1.9 million) to the side that prevailed.
Boro’s Riverside Stadium became a sea of celebratory red after they earned their crucial point despite Christhian Stuani’s 19th-minute goal being answered by Dale Stephens’ second-half header for the Seagulls.
Yet Stephens went from hero to villain within three minutes, being then shown a straight red card for a late studs-up challenge which left Gaston Ramirez having to be taken off on a stretcher with what looked a serious leg injury.
The draw left both sides on 89 points but Aitor Karanka’s Boro will be back in the Premier League for the first time in seven years thanks to a superior goal difference by a mere two goals.
Brighton will now have to take their chances in the play-offs with Hull City, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday.
Meanwhile, already-promoted Burnley bounce straight back into the Premier League following last season’s relegation as champions.
They took the crown with 93 points, four clear of their pursuers, thanks to a handsome win at Charlton secured through goals from Sam Vokes, George Boyd and Andre Gray.
Middlesbrough’s Spanish manager Karanka was left feeling emotional as the Riverside pitch was engulfed by fans afterwards.
“When I arrived here, some people said I was crazy when I said my aim was to take this club back to the Premier League. Two and a half years later, we are in the Premier League,” said the man who had been Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid.
Middlesbrough’s joy was a far cry from their despair last season when they were beaten in the Championship play-off final by Norwich City at Wembley.
This season they had been sailing towards the Premier League but their form slumped and Karanka ended up in a major bust-up with his players that briefly appeared to threaten his future at the club.
Burnley, who secured their promotion on Monday with a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, hammered the already-relegated Charlton, whose manager Jose Riga resigned five months into his 18-month contract soon after the end of the game.