Leeds United ended a three-match winless run in the Championship as Luke Ayling's early strike earned Marcelo Bielsa's side a 1-0 victory over Bristol City.

That moved Leeds back to just four points behind leaders West Brom, who were held 2-2 at home by Nottingham Forest after Matty Cash's late leveller for the visitors at the Hawthorns.

Third-placed Fulham were thumped 3-0 at home by bottom-of-the-table Barnsley, while Brentford nudged above Forest and into fourth place thanks to a 1-1 draw at Birmingham.

Preston, who sit sixth, suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to Millwall, further muddying the play-off picture in the English second tier.

Leeds emerge from a storm

With their promotion hopes hurt by recent defeats to Forest and Wigan, a midweek draw with Brentford offered Leeds some encouragement. They have made slumping after strong starts a familiar trait, yet Saturday's narrow success put their promotion push back on track.

Ayling, a former Bristol City player, drove home from eight yards in the 16th minute, his left-footed strike coming after the ball pinged around the penalty area.

In blustery conditions, Helder Costa should have scored a second for Leeds when he went around Daniel Bentley but allowed the City goalkeeper to get back to make a desperate save.

The conditions were far from helpful, with litter from the stands blowing across the pitch, but Leeds held strong to reignite their promotion push.

Baggies blow

West Brom and Forest played out an entertaining four-goal game in the early kick-off, but the Baggies' three-match winning run is over and that will give the likes of Leeds encouragement.

Callum Robinson fired West Brom ahead after 37 minutes, before Kyle Bartley's own goal levelled up the game by half-time. A second own goal, this time from Tobias Figueiredo, restored West Brom's lead and looked set to bring the hosts maximum points.

Yet a twist in the narrative arrived in the first minute of stoppage time, with Cash driving forward and cracking in a sublime leveller, a ferocious finish that arrowed across Sam Johnstone and into the far left corner.

 

Chasing pack step off the pace

Scott Parker saw his Fulham side flop against Barnsley, with Cauley Woodrow's double - the first a penalty - and Jacob Brown's fine strike giving the Tykes a stunning Craven Cottage win and a glimmer of hope in their attempt to beat the drop.

The goals came early at St Andrew's where Birmingham took a 13th-minute lead against Brentford through Lukas Jutkiewicz, with Ethan Pinnock grabbing an equaliser four minutes later.

Stoke led QPR 2-0 after 31 minutes at Loftus Road but crumbled to a 4-2 defeat, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ilias Chair grabbing late goals for the London side. Ryan Tunnicliffe's strike gave Luton a 1-0 win at Middlesbrough, and Shaun Hutchinson headed Millwall to their victory at Preston.

Ten-man Owls humbled

Cardiff CIty drew 2-2 at home against Wigan, while Yakou Meite, George Puscas and Sam Baldock, with a stoppage-time penalty, netted as Reading romped home 3-0 at Sheffield Wednesday, who had Osaze Urhoghide sent off early in the second half.

John Buckley and Tosin Adarabioyo cracked in first-half goals at The Valley as Blackburn were 2-0 winners against Charlton, nudging Rovers closer to the play-off picture.

A 25-yard strike from Tom Lawrence gave Derby County the lead at home against Huddersfield, but it finished 1-1 at Pride Park after a surging run and smart finish from Harry Toffolo.

First Barcelona and now Real Madrid. Lautaro Martinez is a wanted man.

With 16 goals across all competitions for Inter this season, Martinez is attracting plenty of interest following previous links to Manchester United.

Madrid and Barca are set to go head-to-head on and off the pitch.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID JOIN BARCA IN MARTINEZ RACE

Real Madrid want to pay the release clause of Inter star and Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez, according to Tyc Sports.

Martinez has long been linked with LaLiga champions Barca, who are eyeing a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

However, Martinez is now firmly on Madrid's radar with a release clause of €115million and Luka Jovic struggling to score regularly behind veteran striker Karim Benzema at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN says Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are chasing Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who is on loan at Premier League side Sheffield United. The 22-year-old – who is contracted to United until 2022 – has impressed at Bramall Lane and is reportedly unwilling to return to Manchester unless he is number one ahead of David de Gea.

Manchester City have joined Madrid, Barca, Arsenal and Tottenham in the race to sign RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, reports the Manchester Evening News. Pep Guardiola's City are desperate for defensive reinforcements following Vincent Kompany's exit and injury woes.

- According to the Daily Express, Serie A champions Juventus are eying a shock move for Chelsea's Willian, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

- Remaining in Turin and the Daily Mail claims Juve have entered the chase for Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham. The 17-year-old is also wanted by United and Chelsea.

Tottenham are plotting a double swoop for Norwich City pair Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons, the Express says. It comes as the Daily Mail reports Spurs will sell Eric Dier if he does not sign a new contract.

- Marca says Barca have contacted Levante about Roger Marti but the club have pointed to the striker's release clause. Barca are looking to bring in an emergency forward following Ousmane Dembele's long-term injury. Real Betis' Loren Moron and Lucas Perez of Deportivo Alaves are also reported options.

Jadon Sancho is a player in demand.

The former Manchester City youth player is a man in demand due to exploits with Borussia Dortmund.

The Premier League's elite are circling…

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL WANT SANCHO AMID UNITED LINKS

Liverpool want to sign Borussia Dortmund star and Manchester United target Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Mail.

United are reportedly confident of luring the 19-year-old England international to Old Trafford, ahead of Premier League rivals Chelsea.

However, a fresh report claims Premier League leaders Liverpool have joined the race for the teenager as Jurgen Klopp hopes to take advantage of the relationship with former club Dortmund. Sky Germany also says Sancho will leave Dortmund at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are preparing to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, reports El Confidencial. Neymar, who left Barca for a world-record €222m fee in 2017, has been heavily linked with a return to Camp Nou. After missing out on an off-season move, Neymar could be on his way back to the LaLiga giants – who are reportedly willing to sell one or two players to finance the blockbuster transfer.

- According to The Sun, Chelsea are battling United for the signature of 16-year-old Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham, who could cost up to £50million. The teenager has also attracted interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

- United recruit Odion Ighalo has been barred from the club's training ground due to ongoing coronavirus precautions, says The Mirror. Ighalo arrived from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day, moving to United on loan until the end of the season. The Nigeria international, however, has not been allowed to train at Carrington.

Barca have ruled out signing Real Sociedad striker Willian Jose, reports Marca. With Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez sidelined, Barca are set to receive permission to sign an emergency forward within Spain. Real Betis' Loren Moron now reportedly tops the list of targets.

- Sandro Tonali has been valued at €55m and €60m by Brescia amid interest from Serie A champions Juventus and Inter, according to Calciomercato.

- Liverpool, United and Bayern Munich are eyeing Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka, reports the Daily Mail.

- AS claims Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu is at the centre of a transfer tug-of-war between Madrid, United and Atletico Madrid.

Kiko Casilla made another alarming blunder in the Leeds United goal on Tuesday, but Marcelo Bielsa's men nevertheless managed to avoid a fifth Championship defeat in six matches as they drew 1-1 at Brentford.

Out-of-form Leeds were always expecting a tough tussle with fellow promotion hopefuls Brentford, but in the end the home side failed to live up to expectations having won each of their previous two games.

Nottingham Forest would have moved level on 56 points with Leeds had they beaten Charlton Athletic, but the struggling Addicks came away from the City Ground with a shock 1-0 win to boost their survival hopes.

Swansea City will feel they missed an opportunity to close in on the play-off places, as they were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to QPR.

CASILLA CULPABLE BUT LEEDS SHOW SPIRIT

Although they remain second in the Championship, Leeds' form of late has been utterly wretched, with a 3-2 win over Millwall their solitary victory in any competition this year.

Casilla has been a regular problem, with the experienced Spanish goalkeeper making several high-profile errors and he was at it again at Griffin Park in the first half, allowing a routine back-pass to slide under his foot and the in-form Said Benrahma pounced to open the scoring.

But generally, Leeds performed well and equalised late in the first half, Liam Cooper netting from close range following a corner.

A second half of few chances resulted in the two sides cancelling each other out, with Brentford unable to really get their much-vaunted attack into the match.

CHARLTON SPRING A SURPRISE

Heading into Tuesday's fixtures, Forest knew a victory could potentially put them up to second – as it was, they dropped down a place into fifth.

Charlton claimed only their second league win since Boxing Day, and the decisive goal was worthy of winning any match.

Naby Sarr made a wonderful challenge on the halfway line, ran on to the loose ball and then delivered a delightful cross towards the back post – Lyle Taylor turning it in on the volley.

Forest piled the pressure on at times in the second half, but they failed to find a way through, seemingly paying the price for significant rotation from the team that beat Leeds 2-0 on Saturday.

BLACKBURN CRUISE WITH LATE FLURRY

Rovers appeared to be heading for a third successive Championship match without a win, but three goals in the final 17 minutes ultimately secured them a straightforward 3-0 victory against Hull City.

Darragh Lenihan finally broke the deadlock, prodding home from close range after George Long failed to hold on to a corner, and Adam Armstrong made it 2-0 six minutes later with a ferocious strike.

Dominic Samuel wrapped up the three points soon after, moving Blackburn to within three points of the play-off spots.

Birmingham City were also victorious, beating Barnsley 1-0 in Yorkshire thanks to Scott Hogan's fine effort, while Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough played out an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Birmingham City recovered from falling behind inside the opening minute to continue their excellent record away at Bristol City, recording a 3-1 win on Friday.

The hosts were gifted the lead after 40 seconds when Jamie Paterson seized upon a weak Marc Roberts backpass to round goalkeeper Lee Camp and slot in from a tight angle.

Yet Birmingham responded to the early setback impressively, scoring twice before half-time to assume control.

Scott Hogan converted from close range - his second goal since arriving on loan - before Andreas Weimann scored in his own net, the former Aston Villa player inadvertently converting Jude Bellingham's cross.

After Famara Diedhiou missed a glorious chance to draw the Robins level, volleying wide on the stretch, Lukas Jutkiewicz struck late to seal the three points for Pep Clotet's side.

The striker's left-footed finish in additional time clinched Birmingham a seventh success in their past nine league trips to Ashton Gate, ending Bristol City's four-game winning streak in the Championship.

West Brom returned to the top of the Championship with a 2-0 victory over Luton Town after Leeds slumped to another stunning home defeat against struggling Wigan Athletic.

Leeds started their clash with third-bottom Wigan holding a two-point lead at the summit, but a Pablo Hernandez own goal was enough for Wigan to pull off a repeat of their victory at Elland Road last season.

A Donervon Daniels own goal and Semi Ajayi's header moved Albion a point clear of Leeds, while Fulham are just three points adrift of Marcelo Bielsa's men following their 3-2 defeat of Huddersfield Town.

Just six points separate the top six following wins for Brentford and Bristol City, with Nottingham Forest slipping to fourth after they went down 2-1 at Birmingham City.

Charlton Athletic's 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Barnsley moved them four points clear of the relegation zone. 

Preston North End were held to a 1-1 home draw Swansea City, while it was also all square in the encounters between Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall and Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers.

DEJA VU AT ELLAND ROAD FOR TOOTHLESS LEEDS

Leeds mounted a storming fightback to beat Millwall in midweek and a home encounter with Wigan appeared to be a great opportunity to build on what was their first win in four league matches.

Yet Wigan inflicted a costly 2-1 defeat late in the Yorkshire club's bid for automatic promotion last year and Paul Cook's side headed back to Lancashire with three precious points again this time around.

Joe Williams' corner deflected off Hernandez and into the net just before the hour-mark and wasteful Leeds were unable to respond, slumping to a third loss in four.

BAGGIES RESPOND, FIVE-STAR BEES THUMP HULL

West Brom were beaten at Cardiff on Tuesday after losing their previous Championship encounter with Stoke City, but there was no slip-up against bottom side Luton at The Hawthorns.

Brentford had failed to score in their previous three matches in all competitions, but Said Benrahma scored a hat-trick as they thrashed Hull City 5-1 at the KC Stadium to move four points behind Leeds.

All five goals came in the first half of Fulham's 3-2 victory over Huddersfield, while Bristol City have won four in a row in the league without conceding following a 1-0 success at QPR.

CHARLTON CLAIM PRECIOUS RARE WIN

Only a second Championship win in 18 games moved Charlton above Stoke, hammered by Derby County on Friday, and Huddersfield.

Lyle Taylor and Andre Green were on target for the Addicks, leaving Barnsley seven points behind a Stoke side sitting just above the bottom three.

Manchester United have lined up another exciting midfield transfer target amid their ongoing pursuit of Bruno Fernandes.

As the wrangling over figures with Sporting CP continues, the Red Devils have reportedly submitted a sizeable offer to Birmingham City for teenage talent Jude Bellingham.

But making the first move might only spark a European bidding war.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SUBMIT BELLINGHAM BID

Birmingham youngster Bellingham's clear potential has convinced United to launch an offer worth more than £30million, reports the Sun and Sky Sports.

The 16-year-old midfielder has burst onto the scene this season and the Old Trafford outfit are understood to be keen to test him in the Premier League.

However, they could face stiff competition from Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and other heavyweight clubs across the continent.

The Mirror, meanwhile, claims United have made a "breakthrough" in negotiations for Portugal international Fernandes, having reached a "compromise" transfer fee in the region of £55m.

 

ROUND-UP

- David Beckham's Inter Miami have contacted Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero to assess his interest in a switch to MLS, adds the Sun.

- Tottenham have enquired about Real Madrid winger and former Spurs star Gareth Bale, according to Spanish television programme El Chiringuito.

- Barcelona, still searching for a new striker, have ruled out RB Leipzig's Timo Werner and Lille's Victor Osimhen, suggests Mundo Deportivo, with Valencia's Rodrigo Moreno a more likely target.

- Serie A side Roma are set to discuss personal terms with Matteo Politano after agreeing a €25million fee with Inter, according to Sky Sport Italia.

- Inter, meanwhile, are said to be in discussions with United youngster Tahith Chong, who is also on Chinese outfit Jiangsu Suning's radar as his contract runs close to expiring, says Sky Sport Italia.

- Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali is interesting Premier League champions City and Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain, reports SportMediaset.

Tom Barkhuizen scored a first-half double as Preston North End beat Barnsley 3-0 to go sixth in the Championship and tempers flared when Birmingham City had a late winner disallowed at Middlesbrough on Tuesday.

Preston replaced Swansea City in the final play-off spot after dominating the first half at Oakwell, forward Barkhuizen grabbing a brace either side of Daniel Johnson's strike.

Defeat for the third-bottom Tykes leaves them four points behind Stoke City, who sit directly above the relegation zone.

Ashley Fletcher salvaged a 1-1 draw for Boro after Lukas Jutkiewicz headed Birmingham in front against his former club in the first half.

Lee Camp saved a Paddy McNair penalty before Jutkiewicz nodded in, but Fletcher was on target nine minutes from time for Jonathan Woodgate's side.

There was drama in the closing stages when Jutkiewicz had the ball in the back of the net but the goal was chalked off by referee Andy Woolmer, with Boro winger Marcus Tavernier down injured.

That sparked a touchline melee, resulting in Blues head of performance Sean Rush and Boro assistant Leo Percovich being sent off. A point apiece leaves Boro and Blues 17th and 18th respectively.

 

Leeds United remain top of the Championship after a 1-1 draw with West Brom at The Hawthorns on Wednesday.

Semi Ajayi put the Baggies ahead in only the second minute but was unfortunate in deflecting Patrick Bamford's header into his own net to bring Leeds level.

The result means Marcelo Bielsa's side stay above West Brom on goal difference after 26 matches.

The earlier fixtures were largely a feast of goals as 2020 started in enthralling fashion, with Stoke City winning 5-2 at Huddersfield Town and QPR thrashing Cardiff City 6-1.

Brentford were big winners away to Bristol City, Nottingham Forest edged out Blackburn Rovers in a five-goal thriller and Wigan Athletic held on to win 3-2 at Birmingham City.

Fulham's promotion bid suffered another setback with a 2-1 loss to Reading, Middlesbrough made it back-to-back away victories and Hull City snatched three points at Sheffield Wednesday.

In the first game of the new decade, Millwall came from behind to beat Luton Town 3-1 and climb into the top six.

BAGGIES MISS CHANCE TO GO TOP

Ajayi poked home after a penalty-box scramble to give West Brom an early lead against Leeds and Slaven Bilic's side were good value for their advantage in the first half.

Kiko Casilla did superbly to keep out Matheus Pereira's free-kick and then saved with his legs from Matt Phillips, who had been through on goal.

Leeds introduced Bamford at the break and it proved a crucial move, as the striker's header from Jack Harrison's cross deflected off Ajayi's shoulder and into the net.

Neither side could find a winner in the end-to-end closing minutes, meaning each are on 52 points, nine clear of the chasing pack.

 

SIX-GOAL SHOWDOWNS

Stoke dominated the first half at John Smith's Stadium but Sam Vokes' opener was forgotten when Steve Mounie and a Danny Batth own goal put the hosts ahead.

However, Stoke struck a further four times through Nick Powell, Lee Gregory and a Tyrese Campbell double in a game otherwise marred when a stadium announcement was required to warn against further alleged discriminatory chants aimed at James McClean.

QPR's victory was a more straightforward affair, as a Nahki Wells hat-trick inspired them to a 6-1 thrashing of Cardiff, who got a late consolation through Will Vaulks.

Cardiff stay 12th, though, given Bristol City were dispatched 4-0 at home by Brentford, Ollie Watkins making the points safe with a late double to send his side third.

MILLWALL INTO PLAY-OFF SPOTS

Sheffield Wednesday's loss at home to Hull meant Millwall's earlier 3-1 win over Luton, in which they trailed until the 69th minute, was enough to see them into the top six.

Nottingham Forest are up to fourth thanks to Lewis Grabban's two goals securing a 3-2 defeat of Blackburn Rovers, with Fulham slipping to fifth after John Swift and Charlie Adam consigned them to a fourth defeat in seven league games.

Preston's top-six chase was dealt a blow, though, as Rudy Gestede and a Ben Davies own goal gave Middlesbrough a fourth win in a row.

At the other end of the table, Wigan gave their survival bid a boost after they held onto a 3-2 win at Birmingham, Cedric Kipre's 73rd-minute goal proving the difference.

Leeds United overcame Birmingham City in a nine-goal thriller to move top of the Championship table as previous leaders West Brom suffered a shock home defeat to Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds benefited from an injury time own goal at St Andrew's, Wes Harding turning Luke Ayling's low cross into the net to settle a post-Christmas cracker.

The visitors had previously let slip a lead on three occasions during a see-saw contest, though by finding a late winner they leapfrog West Brom, who lost for just the second time in the league this season.

Fulham are up to third after a 1-0 triumph over Stoke City, with Brentford slipping back a spot in the standings after going down to Aiden O'Brien's eighth-minute goal at in-form Millwall.

Nottingham Forest moved up to fifth by beating bottom club Wigan Athletic, overtaking Sheffield Wednesday after the Owls went down 2-1 at home to Cardiff City. Preston North End also slipped up, beaten 2-0 at home by Reading. 

Elsewhere, Bristol City eased past Luton Town, Steve Mounie was the hero for Huddersfield Town in a 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers and Hull City won by the same scoreline at QPR. Swansea City's meeting with Barnsley, meanwhile, ended in stalemate, the only goalless draw on a busy day in England's second tier.

 

LEEDS LEAVE IT LATE

There was no sign of the drama to come when Leeds moved into a 2-0 first-half lead, Helder Costa and Jack Harrison getting the goals.

However, Birmingham would continuously peg their high-flying opponents back. Lukas Jutkiewicz was on target twice for the hosts in the second half, including netting a stoppage-time equaliser that seemed certain to see the game finish at 4-4.

Yet full-back Ayling – who had put his team 3-2 up with a sensational long-range strike – made one final, telling contribution to proceedings, his run and cross from the right resulting in Harding's own goal.

 

FLETCHER FLATTENS BAGGIES

Middlesbrough recorded their first away win under Jonathan Woodgate as they upset the odds against promotion-chasing West Brom.

Centre-back Daniel Ayala put the visitors in front in the 17th minute and they defended stoutly until doubling their advantage in stunning fashion deep into stoppage time.

Ashley Fletcher opted to take aim from distance when a throw-in reached him midway inside the West Brom half, the forward smashing the ball over the head of Baggies goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to wrap up all three points and end Woodgate's wait for success on the road.

 

TOUGH FINISH TO 2019 FOR STRUGGLERS

It was a good day for Derby County – and they did not even play. The lowly Rams face Charlton Athletic on Monday but only one team – Barnsley, who kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at Swansea – managed to close the gap on them at the foot of the table.

Wigan could have climbed off the bottom had they avoided defeat at Nottingham Forest, who took the lead through Tobias Figueiredo on the hour.

However, Forest needed a fine penalty save from Brice Samba – who guessed correctly to turn away Josh Windass' spot kick – to preserve their narrow advantage through to the final whistle, meaning Wigan will welcome in 2020 at the foot of the standings.

West Brom and Leeds remain separated by three points in the Championship's automatic promotion places after each being held to draws on Boxing Day.

Leeds needed an 89th-minute equaliser from Stuart Dallas to earn a 1-1 draw at home to fellow promotion hopefuls Preston North End, while West Brom conceded in the 90th minute to share the same scoreline with Barnsley.

Brentford, 3-1 victors over Swansea City, were the only winners in the top six as Fulham came from behind three times in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Luton Town and Sheffield Wednesday conceded twice in stoppage time to lose 3-2 at Stoke City.

There was also late drama at Wigan Athletic, with Derby County's Martyn Waghorn snatching a 1-1 draw against the division's bottom side.

 

THREE DRAWS OUT OF FOUR FOR BAGGIES

Filip Krovinovic capitalised on a poor clearance from Barnsley goalkeeper Samuel Sahin-Radlinger to give West Brom a fifth-minute lead at Oakwell but Aapo Halme converted Conor Chaplin's cross from close range to earn a point.

West Brom extended their unbeaten run to 14 matches – the longest sequence since 1901-02.

Any designs Leeds had on trimming the gap at the top were compromised by Alan Browne giving Preston the lead midway through the first half at Elland Road.

Mounting second-half pressure finally told but after winning seven consecutive games from the start of November, Marcelo Bielsa's men are now winless in three.

Brentford are eight points further back in third, with Ollie Watkins helping himself to a brace in their fifth successive victory at Griffin Park.

DRAMA AT THE BOTTOM

Along with Barnsley, all of the bottom four claimed positive results – most notably Stoke.

James McClean gave Michael O'Neill's Stoke an early lead but Morgan Fox and Tom Lees converted second-half corners to suggest further misery for the Potters.

Tyrese Campbell had other ideas, however, netting an acrobatic volley before Sam Vokes scrambled home in the 97th minute to lift Stoke off the foot of the table.

Waghorn scored Derby's first goal in seven Championship away games to cancel out Joe Garner's opener and leave Wigan bottom.

Fulham are fifth and one of three teams on 39 points after a remarkable contest at Kenilworth Road, where Bobby Decordova-Reid's second of the game in the fourth minute of injury time ensured a share of the spoils.

BONNE ENDS CHARLTON'S VICTORY WAIT

Macauley Bonne hit a brace and set up Alfie Doughty's winner as Charlton Athletic overcame Bristol City 3-2 – their first victory in 12 games.

Middlesbrough and Reading were two other teams moving clear of trouble thanks to respective 1-0 wins at home to Huddersfield Town and Queens Park Rangers.

Blackburn Rovers were unable to close on Preston in the final play-off spot as they shared a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City, while Cardiff City and Millwall did likewise to remain on 34 points apiece.

Lewis Grabban scored both goals in Nottingham Forest's 2-0 victory at Hull City.

Mikel Arteta officially started work at Arsenal on Sunday and appears set to get busy in the transfer market.

The Gunners reportedly have two targets in their sights, including a Serie A star.

Arsenal could do with an injection of excitement after slipping to 11th in the Premier League following their lacklustre goalless draw at Everton.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS EYE MERTENS AND VOLLAND

Among the players Arsenal admire is Napoli mainstay Dries Mertens, according to CalcioMercato.

Mertens, on target five times in the Champions League this term, will be available on a free at the end of the season.

Borussia Dortmund are also said to be interested in the 32-year-old, potentially forcing Arsenal to look elsewhere for reinforcements.

That could result in them launching a bid for Kevin Volland. Sky Sports News says the Gunners have sent scouts to watch the Bayer Leverkusen forward and will put his name to new boss Arteta for consideration.

 

ROUND-UP

- Paolo Maldini's position as Milan technical director is "in the balance" following the embarrassing 5-0 loss to Atalanta, claims CalcioMercato. The Rossoneri are languishing in 11th.

- Manchester United and multiple Bundesliga clubs are tracking teenage Birmingham City midfielder Jude Bellingham, reports The Telegraph.

- German newspaper Bild believes goalkeeper Alexander Nubel will join Bayern Munich at the end of the season after announcing his decision to leave Schalke on a free. According to Sport1, his arrival at Allianz Arena could lead to Sven Ulreich's exit.

- Ligue 1 side Monaco have identified Marcelo Gallardo, Laurent Blanc and Marcelino as potential replacements for the under-pressure Leonardo Jardim, according to L'Equipe.

- Juventus outcast Mario Mandzukic is set to seal a switch from the Serie A champions to Qatari side Al-Duhail, reports Sky Sport Italia.

Josh Onomah scored the winner as Fulham boosted their hopes of making a push for automatic promotion in the second half of the Championship season with a 2-1 victory over second-placed Leeds United at Craven Cottage.

On a day when leaders West Brom were held to a 1-1 draw by Brentford, Fulham ended a three-match losing streak and moved back up to third, nine points behind Leeds, courtesy of their triumph.

Scott Parker's men could be overtaken by Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday if the Owls beat Bristol City, but victory over high-flying Leeds nevertheless represents a significant boost.

At the other end of the table, Barnsley climbed off the bottom with a first away win of the season, thanks to a 94th-minute winner from Patrick Schmidt at Millwall, while Derby County's disappointing campaign continued as they had Scott Malone sent off after four minutes and conceded two penalties in a 3-0 defeat at Reading.

 

TOP TWO DROP POINTS BUT STILL CLEAR AT CHRISTMAS

West Brom and Leeds may have both dropped points on Saturday, but they remain firmly on course to finish as the top two.

The table-topping Baggies are three points clear of Leeds and 12 ahead of Fulham after Darnell Furlong took just three minutes to cancel out Henrik Dalsgaard's opener for Brentford at The Hawthorns.

Aleksandar Mitrovic was predictably prominent in Fulham's victory. The Championship's top scorer converted an early penalty before Patrick Bamford pulled Leeds level. Onomah's decisive goal then came on the rebound after an attempted overhead kick from Mitrovic had been blocked. 

Preston North End sit fourth after drawing 0-0 at Cardiff City in the day's early kick-off.

 

BARNSLEY REVIVAL CONTINUES

After beating QPR 5-3 last weekend, Barnsley made it back-to-back wins thanks to Schmidt's injury-time header at Millwall. 

The Yorkshire club have leapfrogged Stoke City and Wigan Athletic at the foot of the table, although the latter could jump from 24th to 21st by beating Blackburn Rovers on Monday.

 

NO MALONE AT CHRISTMAS! RAMS SCUPPERED BY SCOTT'S EARLY RED

Derby have not won away since the opening week of the season and their hopes of ending that dismal run were swiftly dented at Reading when Malone was dismissed for bringing down Yakou Meite as the last man inside four minutes.

Charlie Adam converted the penalty, Lucas Joao added a second for Reading after the break and Meite converted a late penalty of his own on a miserable day for the Rams, who sit seven points above the bottom three in 17th.

Elsewhere, Swansea City snuck into the top six with a 1-0 win at Luton Town, Hull City thumped Birmingham City 3-0 and Huddersfield Town beat slumping Nottingham Forest 2-1 in a contest that saw managers Danny Cowley and Sabri Lamouchi involved in a furious confrontation. Naby Sarr's 95th-minute goal rescued a 2-2 draw for Charlton Athletic at QPR.

West Brom sit at the top of the Championship after Charlie Austin's double helped them to a 3-2 win over Birmingham City in Saturday’s early game.

Leeds United looked set to reclaim first place later in the day but threw away a three-goal lead at home to Cardiff City to draw 3-3.

Preston North End are now 10 points behind Marcelo Bielsa's side after a 2-1 win over Luton Town, while Brentford leapfrogged Fulham into fourth with a slender 1-0 win.

At the other end of the table, rock-bottom Barnsley registered a remarkable 5-3 win over QPR but Middlesbrough slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Swansea City.

 

AUSTIN INSPIRES BAGGIES COMEBACK

Charlie Austin took his tally for the season to eight with a brace to help West Brom record a vital win at Birmingham City.

Slaven Bilic's side looked set for a first defeat in 12 league games after Lukas Jutkiewicz and Harlee Dean had scored either side of Grady Diangana's goal.

Austin drew his side level three minutes after being introduced, though, when he flicked up Jake Livermore's pass and rifled a half-volley past Connal Trueman.

The 30-year-old sealed all three points nine minutes from time, powering home Darnell Furlong's cross with his head.

LEEDS CAPITULATE AGAINST BLUEBIRDS

Leeds conceded three goals inside the final 30 minutes to miss the opportunity to quickly reclaim top spot from the Baggies.

Helder Costa gave the hosts a wonderful start at Elland Road, scoring after six minutes, before Patrick Bamford struck twice to open up a commanding lead.

However, Lee Tomlin gave the Bluebirds hope with a goal on the hour mark to spark an unexpected comeback.

Sean Morrison added another with eight minutes remaining, before receiving his marching orders four minutes later for a late tackle.

Their numerical disadvantage did not daunt the visitors, however, as Robert Glatzel struck with two minutes remaining.

STOCKLEY FIRES PRESTON INTO THIRD

Jayden Stockley scored with six minutes remaining to help Preston beat Luton and climb to third in the table.

Paul Gallagher opened the scoring early on, slotting home after his penalty had been saved, before James Collins levelled from the spot.

Brentford, meanwhile, are a point behind Preston in fourth after Bryan Mbeumo scored the only goal of the game against Fulham.

Sheffield Wednesday are level on points with the Bees, the Owls cruising to a resounding 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground thanks to a first-half hat-trick from Jordan Rhodes.

CHAPLIN TREBLE LIFTS CLOUDS OVER BARNSLEY

Barnsley moved to within four points of safety as Conor Chaplin's hat-trick helped them to a stunning win over QPR at Oakwell.

Cauley Woodrow and Bambo Diaby were also on target in what was only the Tykes' third league win of the campaign.

Fellow strugglers Stoke City and Wigan Athletic were held to 0-0 and 1-1 draws by Reading and Huddersfield Town respectively.

Andre Ayew scored twice in Swansea's comfortable win over Middlesbrough, while Bradley Johnson and Adam Armstrong helped Blackburn Rovers to a 2-0 triumph at Bristol City.

West Brom missed the chance to return to the top of the Championship as their six-match winning run was halted in a 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic.

Slaven Bilic's side had to recover from a goal down to snatch a point that lifts them level with Leeds United, who beat Hull City on Tuesday to climb into top spot.

Brentford got their play-off charge back on track with a 2-1 win over Cardiff City, inflicting a first defeat of Neil Harris' reign on the Welsh side.

Elsewhere, QPR moved into the top half of the division with a 2-0 away win at Birmingham City, while the other three games that took place on Wednesday finished 1-1.


WEST BROM DROP POINTS

West Brom had won four successive away league matches without conceding, but they came unstuck against a determined Wigan side at the DW Stadium.

Bilic's decision to rest some key players backfired as Sam Morsy's free-kick came back off the post, hit Sam Johnstone and crossed the line for an own goal.

Michael Jacobs hit the bar in a real let-off for the visitors four minutes before Charlie Austin fired an indirect free-kick through a sea of bodies once teed up by Jake Livermore.

West Brom could not find a winner, however, meaning just goal difference keeps them behind pacesetters Leeds, while Wigan are within three points of safety.


HARRIS SUFFERS FIRST DEFEAT

After dragging Cardiff into play-off contention by collecting 10 points from the first 12 on offer, Harris saw his side leapfrogged by Brentford with a narrow loss at Griffin Park.

City had won the most recent three of those matches but fell behind to Bryan Mbeumo's strike 25 minutes in.

Mbeumo then claimed an assist for his side's second goal, with Ollie Watkins converting a free header to leave Cardiff with a big mountain to climb.

Marlon Pack's long-range strike with 26 minutes to play gave Harris' men some hope, but Brentford saw out victory to move into seventh place, a point off the play-offs.


OSAYI-SAMUEL STUNNER HELPS SINK BIRMINGHAM

Bright Osayi-Samuel scored an impressive solo goal to help QPR on their way to a 2-0 win at Birmingham, who entered the match level on points with their opponents.

The 21-year-old midfielder picked up the ball in his own half and galloped all the way into the opposition box, where he kept his cool to rifle the ball into the roof of the net.

That incredible strike added to Grant Hall's opener in first-half stoppage time as QPR made it back-to-back wins against a Birmingham side who now have one win in seven.


DRAWS GALORE AS MARTIN RESCUES POINT

Sheffield Wednesday would have climbed back into the top six with victory against Derby County, but they were held to a 1-1 draw at Pride Park.

Steven Fletcher's sweeping finish gave Wednesday a 23rd-minute lead, only for Chris Martin to level from the penalty spot late on after Moses Odubajo - sent off in the 90th minute - fouled Jack Marriott.

Out-of-form Swansea City also played out a 1-1 draw in their home meeting with Blackburn Rovers, stretching their winless run to six matches.

Ex-Swan Danny Graham gave Rovers an early lead, which Andre Ayew cancelled out six minutes later in a game that saw Tom Carroll and Bradley Dack shown second-half reds.

Meanwhile, Barnsley remain rooted to the foot of the table following a 1-1 draw with Reading at Oakwell.

Lucas Joao struck in the second half to rescue a point for fellow strugglers Reading, who fell behind to a Cauley Woodrow goal just before the hour mark.

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