West Brom boosted their bid for automatic promotion as relegation-threatened Hull City and Middlesbrough both lost in Sunday's Championship action.

After table-topping Leeds United and in-form Brentford both won 24 hours earlier, the Baggies followed suit as they eventually overcame Hull 4-2 in an eventful encounter at the Hawthorns.

Twice West Brom took the lead only to concede, Mallik Wilks making it 2-2 early in the second half. However, Kamil Grosicki crucially edged the hosts back in front just over a minute later.

Grady Diangana wrapped up victory for Slaven Bilic's side, though they finished the game down to 10 men following the late dismissal of Ahmed Hegazi. Still, West Brom are once again a point behind Leeds, while they are five clear of third-place Brentford.

Hull remain outside the bottom three as fellow strugglers Middlesbrough were beaten at home, going down 1-0 to QPR.

Jordan Hugill grabbed the only goal of the contest just after the half-hour mark against a club where he spent the 2018-19 season on loan.

Meanwhile, Swansea City moved up to eighth – four points adrift of the final play-off berth occupied by rivals Cardiff City – courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.

Rhian Brewster, who is on loan from Liverpool, opened the scoring and Andre Ayew doubled the Swans' lead from the penalty spot. Atdhe Nuhiu did half the deficit, though his stoppage-time effort was no more than a consolation for the Owls.

Bristol City have parted company with head coach Lee Johnson on the back of Saturday's 1-0 home loss to Cardiff City.

The Championship club fell to a late Danny Ward goal at Ashton Gate to make it seven defeats in a nine-game winless run, leaving them nine points off the play-offs with five games remaining.

City were three points off the top two after beating Derby County 3-2 on February 12, but they have collected only two points from a possible 27 since then and are now down in 12th.

And City, who have lost all four games since returning to action last month, announced on their official website that Johnson - in charge since February 2016 - has been relieved of his duties immediately.

Chief executive Mark Ashton said: "We recognise the huge amount of work that Lee has put in over the last four-and-a-half years to move this club forward and we thank him for all his efforts.

"There have been some special moments over those years and Lee has played a significant part in them.

"However, success in football is ultimately judged by results and league position, and the board believes that a change of management is needed now for Bristol City."

Assistant head coach Dean Holden will take over on a caretaker basis for City's home match against Hull City on Wednesday.

Leeds United moved another step closer to automatic promotion from the Championship with a 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. 

Marcelo Bielsa's side have been inconsistent since last month's restart but saw off Blackburn to remain six points clear of third-placed Brentford. 

West Brom, who sit in second, are not in action until Sunday and in-form Brentford took full advantage by closing the gap to two points with a convincing 3-0 win against Wigan Athletic. 

Stoke City were also big winners in Saturday's second-tier fixtures, thrashing fellow strugglers Barnsley 4-0 to climb out of the relegation zone and into 18th place. 

Cardiff City, Reading and Fulham picked up valuable victories of their own, while two other matches - including the east Midlands derby - finished level. 


TOP-FLIGHT RETURN IN SIGHT FOR LEEDS

Leeds had collected four points from nine since resuming their campaign, but there is surely no stopping them from ending their 16-year wait for top-flight promotion. 

Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips put Leeds two goals ahead and while Adam Armstrong scored a free-kick early in the second period, Mateusz Klich made sure of the points. 

West Brom play their game in hand against Hull City on Sunday and now have a four-point gap to make up on Leeds, though holding down second place could become their main priority. 

Brentford have now won five in a row after Said Benrahma helped himself to a hat-trick against Wigan, who had Joe Garner sent off late on. 

PROMOTION BATTLE HEATING UP

Derby County and Nottingham Forest played out a 1-1 draw in the early kick-off - Chris Martin scoring in the 97th minute to cancel out Joe Lolley's goal. 

Cardiff saw a number of promising chances go begging against Bristol City before Lee Tomlin played in fellow substitute Danny Ward to snatch a 1-0 win. 

As well as earning bragging rights for Cardiff, Ward's clinical strike five minutes from the end also opens up a three-point buffer on seventh-in-the-table Derby. 

Fulham also needed a late goal to overcome Birmingham City at Craven Cottage, Josh Onomah popping up deep into added time to prolong the visitors' bad run of form. 

STOKE STEER CLEAR OF DANGER

Stoke entered their match with Barnsley sitting just above their opponents in the relegation zone. By the final whistle, they had risen clear of the drop zone. 

Tyrese Campbell struck twice while a goal apiece for Sam Vokes and Tom Ince resulted in a crushing win at the bet365 Stadium. 

Luton Town were unable to give their own survival hopes a much-needed boost as they went down 5-0 at home to Reading, a result that leaves them five points from safety. 

Yakou Meite was the hero for Reading, netting four of their goals - including an 18-minute hat-trick before half-time - while George Puscas was also on target for the visitors. 

Meanwhile, Huddersfield Town played out a goalless stalemate with a Preston North End side now winless in six matches.

James Milner admits leaving Liverpool could have been an option in Jurgen Klopp's first full season at the club after he was asked to play out of position. 

The 34-year-old left Manchester City in 2015 to play more regularly in centre midfield yet spent a lot of the 2016-17 campaign plying his trade at left-back. 

Milner's experience has aided Liverpool in the past few seasons and he signed a new deal in December that runs through to 2022. 

But the former England international could have pushed for a move away three years ago and says it took time to adapt to Klopp's demands on the training pitch. 

On moving to left-back, he told Sky Sports: "It was what the manager needed at the time. There's always going to be positions you prefer but you do what's needed for the team.

"I suppose at that point I could have turned around and said, 'No I don't want to do that, I want to leave'.

"He came to ask me to do it in pre-season and my mindset was, 'Okay, how can I be the best I can be in that position?' and I started to learn the role.  

"A few of the boys were a bit surprised when we set up at pre-season training the next day and I was at left-back, but that was part of the fun." 

Asked about Klopp's intense training sessions, Milner added: "We had to adapt to that - there were a lot of injuries early on. 

"People were saying, 'You can't do that!' You could, you just had to get used to it. Straight away you saw the tempo and the intensity in that first game at Spurs. 

"It was ridiculous really, it wasn't like we played at a slow tempo under Brendan [Rodgers]. That journey started then with the manager's methods and how he wanted us to play. 

"You saw it come in bit by bit. One week the quality would be there and the next week we would be miles off it. 

"That was a process again; the consistency started to come in and, eventually, learning how to win ugly and become a more rounded team."

Milner has been restricted to just eight league starts this term, however, and has recently been linked with a move back to boyhood club Leeds United.

The Yorkshire club are on course to earn promotion to the top flight after a 16-year absence and Milner has not ruled out returning at some stage in the future.

"You never know in football what's around the corner, but I just want to contribute and win as many trophies as I can for Liverpool and add to the great history here," he said.

"I'm biased, but I think the Premier League will be a better place for Leeds in it, and it will be weird to play against them next season."

Jake Cooper scored a second-half winner as Millwall defeated Charlton Athletic 1-0 in a turgid Championship affair at the Valley on Friday. 

Centre-back Cooper fired home the rebound in the 81st minute after home goalkeeper Dillon Phillips parried Connor Mahoney's effort. 

It proved the difference between the teams in a game of few chances. Macauley Bonne was denied by Millwall goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski, while Phillips had brilliantly saved from Jed Wallace's close-range strike shortly before the break.

Millwall climb to eighth courtesy of their first win since the league restarted after the coronavirus suspension, while Charlton are 18th but only three points above the relegation zone. 

Pep Clotet expects Birmingham City to receive big money for Jude Bellingham but denied a deal with Borussia Dortmund has been agreed.

It was reported on Friday that Dortmund have beaten off competition from the likes of Manchester United to sign the 17-year-old midfielder on a five-year deal.

The Championship side are said to be set to be paid at least £20million for the England youth international.

Blues head coach Clotet stressed that an agreement has not been reached, but suggested it was only a matter of time before the club cash in on the teenager.

"I have not looked into the situation at all as I am only allowed to comment on things that are not speculation," said Clotet, who will leave his role at the end of the season.

"It is up to the club and the player to decide, basically for the club to decide what to do with their assets. I am just hoping that the value according to what he has achieved and his future potential, is rich

"That's what I hope because he is one of the youngest players who has played so many games in the Championship for his age, on the quality of his play, in very different positions.

"He has massive future value. Of course I am expecting that possibly he will be the most valuable player I have ever developed - and I have developed a lot.

"I am expecting it to be a really good bond financially for the club but of course that is a side of the business that is not my side.

"There is no update, I know there has been a lot of speculation lately – but there is nothing.

"We are focused, Jude is our player, he is very determined to play with us tomorrow [at Fulham] and as far as I am aware and what I see it just shows how good professionally he is.

"He just blocks everything around that and is focusing a lot on his performances and playing tomorrow.  At the moment there is nothing concrete."

Lionel Messi's future is often a topic of discussion.

Messi has an early break clause in his Barcelona contract.

As Barca look to re-sign Messi, the 33-year-old superstar is reportedly ready to walk away next year.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS BARCA EXIT

Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona when his contract expires at the end of 2020-21, according to Cadena SER.

Barca captain Messi – previously linked to Inter and Manchester City – has reportedly been in talks over a new two-year deal at Camp Nou.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner and Barca's all-time leading scorer is reportedly tired of being blamed for issues at the club, with the LaLiga champions set to be dethroned by Real Madrid.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Camp Nou and club legend Xavi has agreed to become Barcelona head coach next season. Mundo Deportivo journalist Francesc Aguilar says the Al-Sadd boss has agreed a €6million salary to replace under-fire coach Quique Setien.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Manchester United and neighbours City have asked Barca about the availability of out-of-favour forward Antoine Griezmann. A big-money signing from Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, Griezmann has struggled and found himself on the bench in recent weeks. However, the report claims Barca are not considering a transfer.

Liverpool are poised to sign Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, says Sport. Thiago is out of contract at the end of 2020-21 and the Spaniard is not willing to re-sign. Now, Liverpool are believed to be in advanced negotiations as Bayern seek £31m (€35m) for Thiago.

- Everton full-back Lucas Digne has emerged as a target for City and Chelsea if they fail to land Leicester City star Ben Chilwell, according to ESPN.

Borussia Dortmund have completed the signing of Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham, reports Bild. United were also chasing the 17-year-old sensation.

- After signing Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, Sky journalist Fabrizio Romano claims Inter have opened talks with Chelsea for Italian full-back Emerson Palmieri.

Juventus are hoping to settle Paulo Dybala's new contract between July and August, says Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea are ready to step up their pursuit of Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz after Saturday's DFB-Pokal final against Bayern. Havertz has been linked to Bayern, Madrid, United, Liverpool and Barca.

- Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could be shipped out on loan to Sevilla, claims The Sun. The world's most expensive keeper has been criticised for his performances this season.

Mallik Wilks snatched a precious stoppage-time winner as Hull City beat fellow strugglers Middlesbrough 2-1 to climb out of Championship relegation zone.

The Tigers started Thursday's crunch clash at the KC Stadium on a 13-match winless streak in the league and they fell behind after only four minutes, when Britt Assombalonga was on target from the penalty spot.

Boro beat beleaguered Stoke City in Neil Warnock's first game in charge on Saturday, but they were pegged back by Herbie Kane's fine free-kick just eight minutes in.

Neither side looked capable of winning it until Wilks, who signed a permanent deal on the morning of the game, pounced from close range in the closing stages.

Hull's first league win since New Year's Day moves them up to 19th, two points clear of a Stoke side that drop into the bottom three, while Boro are just one point above the relegation zone with six games to play.

Matheus Pereira scored twice as West Brom boosted their title hopes at Sheffield Wednesday, while Wayne Rooney's winner saw Derby County close on the play-off spots.

Championship leaders Leeds United were held to a 1-1 draw by Luton Town on Tuesday and the Baggies closed the gap to just one point with a 3-0 victory at Hillsborough.

Charlie Austin's first-half penalty was added to by a brace from Pereira after the break as Slaven Bilic's side restored their five-point cushion in the final automatic promotion place.

The play-off places are what Derby and Preston are chasing and it was the Rams who came out on top at Deepdale thanks to Rooney.

England's all-time leading scorer found the net with a first-half free-kick to leave Derby one point behind sixth-placed Cardiff City.

Nottingham Forest, who Derby face next, strengthened their grip on one of the play-off berths, Tiago Silva scoring the only goal in 1 -0 victory over Bristol City.

At the other end of the table, Huddersfield Town climbed out of the relegation places with a 3-0 success at Birmingham City.

Karlan Grant, Fraizer Campbell and Elias Kachunga scored the goals for the Terriers, who were replaced in the bottom three by Hull City.

Championship club Wigan Athletic have gone into administration, with the impact of coronavirus cited as a "significant" factor.

The English Football League confirmed a 12-point deduction will be imposed, though it will only apply this season if the Latics finish outside the bottom three.

Wigan, who lifted the FA Cup in 2013 in the same season they were relegated from the Premier League, are 14th and have won six of their last seven games.

Gerald Krasner, Paul Stanley and Dean Watson of Begbies Traynor have been appointed as joint administrators.

"Obviously the suspension of the Championship season due to COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the recent fortunes of the club," Krasner said in a statement.

Long-time owner Dave Whelan sold the club in 2018 and it changed hands again in May this year, with Next Leader Fund taking control.

Leeds United missed the chance to go six points clear at the top of the Championship while Brentford boosted their promotion hopes further.

Marcelo Bielsa's men could have strengthened their grip on top spot with a home win over the league's bottom club Luton Town but were held to a 1-1 draw.

Substitute Harry Cornick gave Luton a surprise 50th-minute lead, only for Stuart Dallas to respond 13 minutes later.

West Brom can cut Leeds' advantage to one point with victory in their midweek trip to Sheffield Wednesday but will be looking over their shoulder at surging Brentford.

The Bees made it three wins from three since the resumption of the season - and four in four - goals from Bryan Mbeumo, Josh Dasilva and Joel Valencia securing a 3-0 defeat of Reading that moves them within two points of the Baggies in the second automatic promotion spot.

Fulham are two points further back after Cyrus Christie's 75th-minute effort earned a 2-1 triumph over west London rivals QPR.

Kai Naismith scored twice as Wigan Athletic moved eight points clear of the relegation zone following a 3-0 win over struggling Stoke City.

Barnsley are only a point adrift of safety after beating Blackburn Rovers 2-0 while elsewhere Cardiff City drew 0-0 with Charlton Athletic and Millwall's clash with Swansea City ended 1-1.

Derby County defender Andre Wisdom is in hospital after being the victim of "an unprovoked assault and robbery".

Media reports emerged on Monday claiming the former Liverpool player was stabbed while visiting family in the Toxteth area after the Rams' 2-1 Championship home win against Reading on Saturday.

Derby subsequently confirmed Wisdom had been subjected to an attack and was in a stable condition in hospital.

"Derby County Football Club can confirm that Andre Wisdom has been the victim of an unprovoked assault and robbery," an official statement read.

"He sustained injuries which resulted in him being admitted to hospital, where he is in a stable condition. 

"Merseyside Police are investigating and the club will focus its efforts on supporting Andre and his family. Therefore, we will not be making any further comment at this time."

Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has been handed a three-game ban by the Football Association (FA) for elbowing Leeds United defender Ben White.

The FA has retrospectively punished Mitrovic for an incident that happened just two minutes into Leeds' 3-0 Championship win over Fulham at Elland Road on Saturday.

Referee Tony Harrington did not see the incident at the time but Mitrovic admitted the act constituted violent conduct and he has therefore been banned.

Fulham, fifth in the table, are 10 points behind leaders Leeds and seven adrift of second-placed West Brom with seven games to go.

Mitrovic is the Championship's joint top scorer having netted 23 of his team's 52 goals in 2019-20.

The 25-year-old will miss matches against QPR, Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest.

Nottingham Forest strengthened their grip on a Championship play-off place with a 3-1 win over relegation-threatened Huddersfield Town on Sunday.

A double from Lewis Grabban either side of half-time effectively secured a victory that moved Forest up to fourth, seven points clear of seventh-placed Preston and North End.

Ryan Yates added a third five minutes from time, and Huddersfield were reduced to 10 men when Juninho Bacuna was sent off four minutes later.

After Joe Worrall fouled Fraizer Campbell in the box, Karlan Grant scored a 97th-minute consolation from the penalty spot for Danny Cowley's side.

Huddersfield are level with Hull City on 42 points but are in the bottom three on goal difference.

Bristol City's play-off hopes were dealt a blow with a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, who took command through Connor Wickham and Massimo Luongo before Nahki Wells pulled one back.

The Robins are five points adrift of a play-off place.

Leeds United took a huge step towards promotion to the Premier League with a 3-0 victory over Fulham at Elland Road.

After West Brom lost at Brentford on Friday, Leeds' impressive win saw them bounce back from last week's defeat to Cardiff City and move top of the Championship.

There were also wins for Charlton Athletic, Cardiff, Luton Town, Derby County, Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

Birmingham City and Hull City shared a dramatic 3-3 draw, while there were no goals in the match between Barnsley and Millwall.

 

LEEDS CLOSING IN ON TOP FLIGHT

The 2-0 away defeat to Cardiff in the first match after lockdown was a concern, but even the most pessimistic Leeds fans must concede things are looking good now.

With seven games to go, Leeds are three points clear of West Brom and have opened up an eight-point cushion over third-placed Brentford.

The win over Fulham also dealt a hammer blow to their opponents' chances of automatic promotion - they are now 10 points off the top in fourth.

Patrick Bamford slotted in a cool left-footed finish from Helder Costa's cross after 10 minutes.

Leeds made sure of the points after the break when Ezgjan Alioski was set up by Jack Harrison, who went on to score the third after racing onto a Pablo Hernandez throughball.

Neeskens Kebano was sent off for Fulham in stoppage time, while key striker Aleksandar Mitrovic may face retrospective action after an apparent elbow on Ben White went unpunished in the early stages.

KEY WIN FOR CARDIFF

Cardiff continued their momentum with a potentially pivotal win over Preston North End, one of their main rivals for a play-off place.

The Welsh side moved above Preston into sixth place courtesy of a 3-1 away triumph given to them by late goals from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Robert Glatzel.

All four goals were scored in the last 21 minutes, with Joe Ralls' header putting Cardiff ahead before Daniel Johnson equalised.

Derby are only three points off the top six after Tom Lawrence's fine strike and a Wayne Rooney penalty earned a 2-1 home win over Reading, whose goal was scored by Andy Rinomhota.

Lawrence and Reading's Matt Miazga both received red cards for a clash just after the final whistle.

WINNING START FOR WARNOCK

Middlesbrough won 2-0 at Stoke City to give Neil Warnock an ideal start after his appointment as manager.

Ashley Fletcher and Marcus Tavernier scored in each half, while Stoke's Nick Powell was sent off a minute from time.

Huddersfield Town, who face fifth-placed Nottingham Forest on Sunday, dropped into the bottom three without playing.

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