Norwich City reclaimed top spot in the Championship as they and Sheffield United romped to 4-0 victories on Saturday.

Teemu Pukki struck twice to help the Canaries move back ahead of Leeds United - who are not in action until next weekend - with a routine win away to Bolton Wanderers, while Gary Madine was at the double in the Blades' comfortable home triumph over Reading.

Fellow promotion hopefuls West Brom were also impressive in prevailing 2-0 at rivals Aston Villa, who are now winless in four matches.

Three draws elsewhere included a dramatic last-gasp derby equaliser for Sheffield Wednesday on the road against Rotherham United.

 

PUKKI POCKETS TWO MORE FOR CLINICAL CANARIES

Stunned 3-1 at Preston North End on Wednesday, Norwich bounced back by crushing relegation-threatened Bolton at the Macron Stadium.

Star striker Pukki bookended the scoring, tucking away the opener in the eighth minute and returning soon after half-time to complete his double. The Finn has now scored in six straight appearances and his league tally for the season of 23 is the most of any player in England's top four tiers.

Marco Stiepermann, who failed to convert a penalty at Deepdale on Wednesday, and Emiliano Buendia were on target in between to help the visitors move two points clear at the top despite Kenny McLean missing a penalty.

Bolton remain three points shy of safety and six ahead of bottom side Ipswich Town, who had Will Keane to thank for a 92nd-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Stoke City at Portman Road.

 

FAST-STARTING BLADES HEADLINE SHEFFIELD SUCCESS

Kieron Freeman scored after 39 seconds to set the tone for Sheffield United's dominant display against a Reading side that arrived at Bramall Lane unbeaten in four.

On the back foot after conceding the division's fourth-fastest goal this term, Jose Gomes' men were blown away in the first half as striker Madine grabbed a brace to open up a three-goal advantage at the break.

John Fleck completed the rout four minutes after the interval with the Blades leapfrogging Yorkshire rivals Leeds into second on goal difference.

There was joy for Sheffield's other Championship side at New York Stadium thanks to Dominic Iorfa's goal in the 10th minute of added time in a 2-2 draw with Rotherham.

The match was paused in the second half after a clash of heads left Jordan Thorniley requiring attention, and Steve Bruce's side also lost Fernando Forestieri to a second yellow card as a result of his attempt to high-five a fan during the exuberant celebrations that followed Iorfa's equaliser.

 

STRUGGLING VILLA SUNK AT HOME BY BAGGIES

Two goals in four first-half minutes helped West Brom see off an out-of-sorts Villa and stay firmly in the frame for an automatic promotion spot.

Hal Robson-Kanu headed home Mason Holgate's cross in the 41st minute and the visitors' advantage was quickly doubled when Jay Rodriguez fired in off the post.

While the Baggies are within four points of second, 10th-place Villa continue to falter in their bid to claim a play-off place.

West Brom striker Dwight Gayle has been banned for two games after accepting a Football Association (FA) charge of diving.

Gayle went to ground in the penalty area after a challenge from Alexander Milosevic in the closing stages of Tuesday's home game against Nottingham Forest.

Referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot and Gayle's strike partner Jay Rodriguez stepped up to convert the penalty and earn West Brom a 2-2 draw.

The Baggies will be without Gayle for their next two Championship games, away to Aston Villa and QPR, after he accepted the FA's punishment.

"Dwight Gayle will serve a two-match suspension with immediate effect after accepting a charge for 'Successful Deception of a Match Official'," the FA said in a statement.

"It followed the awarding of a penalty in the 89th minute of West Brom's game against Nottingham Forest in the Championship on February 12."

West Brom are fourth in the table despite Darren Moore's side having only won two of their past seven league games.

"The club supports Dwight's view that he was attempting to avoid anticipated challenges in the 89th-minute incident which led to a penalty award for Albion," said a West Brom statement.

"Although disappointed with the outcome, Albion have regrettably concluded any appeal would be fruitless."

Gayle, who is on loan at the Baggies from Premier League side Newcastle United, has scored 16 league goals this term.

Leeds United returned to the top of the Championship after a 2-1 victory over Swansea City, Marcelo Bielsa's side leapfrogging Norwich City – who lost at Preston North End.

Leeds had started Wednesday two points behind Norwich but goals from Pontus Jansson and Jack Harrison were enough to move them back to the summit.

Oliver McBurnie did pull one back for Swansea with a late penalty but it was too little too late as Leeds sealed an 18th win of the campaign midweek.

Leeds have a one-point advantage over Norwich thanks to stunning display from Preston – managed by former Canaries boss Alex Neil – at Deepdale.

CANARIES KNOCKED OFF THEIR PERCH

Preston quickly opened up a 2-0 lead over Norwich as Ben Davies and Paul Gallagher beat Tim Krul. 

Marco Stiepermann missed a penalty before the break and when Sean Maguire scored Preston's third, Norwich were beaten.

Teemu Pukki grabbed a consolation in stoppage time but it was never going to be enough to stop them dropping down to second position following the 3-1 defeat.

Sheffield United are hot on their heels after a 1-0 win over 10-man Middlesbrough, Richard Stearman's first goal of the season enough to move the Blades within two points of the automatic promotion places.

 

LAMPARD LEFT FRUSTRATED

With Middlesbrough losing, Derby County had the chance to move into the top-six but they could only take a point at bottom club Ipswich Town after a 1-1 draw.

Tom Lawrence gave Derby an early lead at Portman Road but Jon Nolan rescued a point minutes after coming off the bench for Paul Lambert's strugglers.

"The team performance wasn't good enough," said a frustrated Frank Lampard. "If there was a natural complacency from going 1-0 up, then we got taught a lesson."

 

SMITH LOSES ON BRENTFORD RETURN

Dean Smith's first trip back to Brentford ended in a 1-0 defeat as his Aston Villa side conceded in the 91st minute at Griffin Park, Neal Maupay netting his 18th goal of the campaign.

"We are getting further away [from the promotion picture] at the moment because we're not picking up points," said a dejected Smith. "We have to take stock of it now and make sure we go and get a result against West Brom."

Elsewhere, Reading lifted themselves out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers, while Stoke City are four games without a win after a goalless draw against Wigan Athletic.

West Brom missed the chance to move up to third as Bolton Wanderers claimed a crucial win at the opposite end of the table in Tuesday's Championship action.

The Baggies had the chance to leapfrog Sheffield United in the standings but had to settle for a point after a 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest.

Bristol City moved into the play-off places courtesy of a 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers, meaning they now sit a point behind West Brom.

At the bottom, Rotherham United fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Hull City and Millwall held Sheffield Wednesday to a scoreless stalemate, keeping them in 20th and 21st place respectively.

However, Bolton boosted their survival hopes with an impressive 1-0 triumph at Birmingham City, albeit they remain second from bottom.


RODRIGUEZ HITS THE SPOT

Jay Rodriguez converted a late penalty - awarded for a foul on Dwight Gayle despite Forest's protestations - as West Brom rescued a draw at The Hawthorns.

Forest led twice in a game between two teams with promotion aspirations, their opener coming courtesy of a deflection off Stefan Johansen as he turned Ryan Yates' strike into his own net.

Yates needed no help with the visitors' second goal following a Jacob Murphy equaliser, but Rodriguez held his nerve from the spot in the 89th minute to peg back Forest.

Bristol City scored even later from the spot at home to QPR, Famara Diedhiou firing home in the third minute of added time to extend his side's winning streak in all competitions to nine games.


WANDERERS RETURN WITH THREE POINTS

Bolton ended their long wait for a first league win in 2019 as Callum Connolly's 71st-minute header settled their game against Birmingham at St Andrew's.

Phil Parkinson's side had not triumphed on the road since August 18 but they successfully blunted the Blues, denying Che Adams from equalling Trevor Francis' club record of netting in seven successive league outings.

The result sees Bolton move level with Reading on 26 points, two behind a Millwall side who played out a stalemate with Sheffield Wednesday, who are still yet to concede a goal under new boss Steve Bruce.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association (FA) after being sent off during his side's derby defeat at Norwich City.

Former Norwich boss Lambert was led away by a police officer after he was dismissed following a scuffle on the touchline after a tackle by Jon Nolan on Max Aarons.

Both teams have also been charged with failing to control their players during Sunday's game, which ended in a 3-0 victory for Daniel Farke's promotion-chasing Canaries.

"Norwich City and Ipswich Town have been charged following their EFL Championship fixture on Sunday," read an FA statement.

"It is alleged that they failed to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during both the 45th and 90th minutes, as well as their officials in the 45th minute.

"In addition, Paul Lambert has also been charged with misconduct in relation to his behaviour in the 45th minute. Both clubs and Mr Lambert have until 18:00 on 15 February 2019 to respond to the charge."

Ipswich are bottom of the Championship table with 15 games to go, while league leaders Norwich are two points clear of Leeds United.

Stoke City chairman Peter Coates has hailed the "immensely modest" Gordon Banks, following the former England goalkeeper's death on Tuesday.

Banks' family announced, via Stoke's official website, that the 81-year-old World Cup winner had passed away peacefully overnight.

Yorkshire-born Banks made 194 appearances for the Potters from 1967-1973 before being forced to retire from professional football after losing his sight in one eye following a car crash.

Stoke chairman Peter Coates told Radio Five Live: "It's a very sad day for us because we liked him so much, he was so much a part of the club.

"He was a president of the club, he came to all of our games, he made his home in Stoke and spent all of his later years here. He was very much part of the fabric.

"He spoke to everybody, knew everybody. He had no side to him - for one of England's greatest ever goalkeepers, you don't get too many like that. He was immensely modest for all of his great talent."

Coates added to the club's website: "Gordon was an iconic figure not only in English football but across the globe and it's deeply sad that we have lost him.

"It's not just people of my generation who know how good a goalkeeper he was – people of all ages talked about Gordon reverentially. He was outstanding and it was an absolute privilege to watch him playing for Stoke City.

"He was also a keen advocate for our city and he will be sadly missed by local people from all walks of life, not just football fans.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to Gordon's wife Ursula, his three children Robert, Wendy and Julia and the rest of the Banks family at this time."

Banks' finest moment came in 1966 when his performances helped England claim their only World Cup crown while he is also remembered for a stunning save to deny Pele at Brazil 1970.

"His legacy will be, first and foremost, that he was the goalkeeper who played for England when they had their finest hour at the 1966 World Cup," said Coates.

"I remember him telling me that when he walked out at the stadium he had goosepimples. He'd never experienced anything like it, he said. The noise was absolutely deafening, he said it made him shake. But he went out and did the job, of course."

Frank Lampard has played down speculation linking him with a return to Chelsea, insisting he is only focused on Derby County despite being viewed as a candidate to replace Maurizio Sarri.

The Blues were thumped 6-0 at Manchester City on Sunday, with a third successive Premier League loss on the road seeing them slip down to sixth in the table.

For Sarri, it was the heaviest defeat of his coaching career and raised questions over his future. Even the Italian seemed unsure in his post-match press conference, admitting his job is always at risk.

Unsurprisingly, bookmakers have Lampard listed as an option to take over should Sarri depart Stamford Bridge, yet Chelsea's all-time leading scorer hopes the current boss can turn around the team's fortunes.

"With my Chelsea hat on, you have a feeling for it and it's not nice," the former England international told the media on Monday.

"It doesn't happen to Chelsea much, so when it does, it's a shock. But let's not forget they were up against a great Manchester City team - and I also had some good times there as a player.

"Bookmakers are not always right for starters, so I wouldn't get excited about that. Chelsea are certainly a club I respect and have a manager I respect. My job is here [at Derby] and I'm working very hard.

"All my thoughts are on Ipswich Town away on Wednesday - I hope to see Chelsea put some form together and turn their results around."

Derby sit seventh in the table ahead of Wednesday's trip to bottom club Ipswich, while the Rams face Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday.

Leinster and Ireland back-row Sean O'Brien will join Championship leaders London Irish after the Rugby World Cup.

O'Brien has spent over a decade with the European champions, but the British and Irish Lion will link up with the Premiership hopefuls in December.

The flanker, who turns 32 on Thursday, was selected for the Lions tours of Australia and New Zealand and has won 54 caps for Six Nations champions Ireland.

O'Brien, a European Rugby Champions Cup winner on four occasions and two-time Pro14 title champion, is relishing the prospect of playing for Exiles director of rugby Declan Kidney, who handed him a first Ireland cap in 2009.

"After speaking with Declan it was obvious the ambition London Irish have as a club," he said. "I'm keen to roll up the sleeves and use my experience to help re-establish London Irish as a top club in England.

"It's a club that's been around for a long time and there's an obvious connection to Ireland with some greats of Irish rugby having previously worn the jersey. For now my concentration remains solely with Leinster and Ireland but it's an exciting challenge that awaits."

London Irish are nine points clear at the top of the second tier after being relegated last year and Kidney says the signing of O'Brien shows they mean business.

He stated: "Recruitment is an ongoing process, and we are always on the lookout for players of Sean's ability.

"Sean has proven himself time and time again to be a quality player who sets very high standards for himself and those around him, he leads by example and has a winning mentality.

"We are delighted that Sean wants to come and be a part of our journey as we move back into West London at the new Brentford Community Stadium in August 2020 after he has finished his commitments to Leinster and Ireland at the end of this year."

 

Teemu Pukki scored a brace to take his Championship goal tally to 20 for the season as Norwich City returned to the top of the table following a heated 3-0 win over local rivals Ipswich Town at Carrow Road on Sunday.

The Finnish forward furthered his reputation as one of English football's signings of 2018-19 with a display of clinical finishing in the second half of a game in which Onel Hernandez gave Norwich an early lead.

Tempers flared throughout a fractious derby that saw Ipswich boss and former Canaries manager Paul Lambert sent to the stands, but the gulf in quality between the two sides was always evident.

While Ipswich remain rooted to the foot of the table, Norwich capitalised on draws for Leeds United and Sheffield United earlier in the weekend and moved two points clear at the summit and five ahead of the Blades in third.

Hernandez opened the scoring inside two minutes, connecting with Mario Vrancic's header across the face of goal and slotting the ball home while Ipswich's defenders floundered.

Lambert had to be restrained by a police officer when he was sent off along with Norwich head of performance Chris Domogalla after a tackle by Jon Nolan on Maximillian Aarons led to an altercation on the touchline moments before the interval.

The second half was 20 minutes old when a defensive error by Matthew Pennington allowed Emiliano Buendia to break through the middle and feed Pukki, who sent a low shot into the far corner of the net.

Pukki thought he had made it three when he headed home from Marco Stiepermann's flick at a corner, only to see the effort ruled out for offside.

But the third goal arrived when Buendia once again carved Ipswich open and played Pukki into the box, where he slid the ball under the body of Town goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski.

Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear confirmed that the club's teenage winger Jack Clarke is heading home from hospital to rest after suffering an illness during Saturday's 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.

Clarke was treated by paramedics in the Leeds dugout during the last 10 minutes of the game at the Riverside Stadium before being taken to the James Cook University Hospital for tests.

Kinnear said that the 18-year-old, who played the first half of the game before being substituted, spent the night at the hospital and will undergo tests but gave a positive assessment of his condition.

"Jack has had messages from football fans from every club you can imagine and we all really appreciate it," Kinnear told the club's official website.

"Jack spent the night under the supervision of the medical staff from the club and he will return home today.

"He will undergo some more tests this week and everything is looking well, but he won't train for the rest of the week.

"In the meantime we would like to thank everyone who has sent well wishes and once again thank Middlesbrough Football Club for all they did for Jack."

Clarke looks set to miss Leeds' Championship clash with Swansea City on Wednesday at Elland Road, where they will seek a first win in three matches to boost their hopes of promotion.

Clarke has made 16 league appearances for Leeds this season, scoring two goals and attracting interest from Premier League clubs during the January transfer window.

He posted a message on Twitter, saying: "Would like to thank everyone for the support and love they have shown, massively appreciated."

Dwight Gayle scored the only goal as West Brom won 1-0 at Stoke City to move into fourth place in the Championship.

Darren Moore's side had only won one of their past five league games but scrapped to a battling victory at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday.

A set-piece routine in the 25th minute put West Brom in front, Gayle heading in at the back post after Ahmed Hegazi turned debutant Stefan Johansen's free-kick back across goal.

Peter Etebo hit an ambitious 30-yard free-kick over and saw a volley deflect wide either side of half-time as Stoke, who recorded a single effort on target, sought a comeback.

Tom Ince went close to scoring a superb goal in the 65th minute, but after a dazzling solo run he drilled just wide, and he then wasted a late free-kick by firing over.

West Brom held on to secure a sixth win in their past seven away league games to boost their promotion hopes, while Stoke sit 17th after a fifth defeat in six games in all competitions.

Leeds United youngster Jack Clarke has been taken to hospital after falling ill during his side's 1-1 Championship draw with Middlesbrough.

The 18-year-old, who started the match but was substituted at half-time, was attended to by paramedics in the dugout during the final 10 minutes of normal time.

The club released a statement, which read: "Jack Clarke began to feel unwell during the second half of our Sky Bet Championship fixture with Middlesbrough and received medical attention.
   
"The player is responsive and attending hospital with the club's head of medicine and performance.
   
"On behalf of everyone at Leeds United, we would like to thank the medical staff from both clubs for their response to the incident."

Kalvin Phillips equalised in the 11th minute of injury time to secure a point for the visitors at the Riverside Stadium.

The result puts Marcelo Bielsa's side back on top of the Championship, one point ahead of Norwich City, who face Ipswich Town on Sunday.

Sheffield United missed out on the chance to go top of the Championship as a remarkable late collapse allowed Aston Villa to snatch a 3-3 draw.

Billy Sharp looked likely to be the hero as he brought up 100 goals for United before completing his hat-trick by nodding in Kieran Dowell's deflected 62nd-minute cross.

The score remained 3-0 until eight minutes from time when visiting goalkeeper Dean Henderson erred under Conor Hourihane's corner and Tyrone Mings headed in his first Villa goal.

Henderson was at fault once again four minutes later when he parried into the path of Tammy Abraham and was beaten at his far post.

An error-strewn spell from Chris Wilder's side was concluded in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Jack O'Connell lost his footing when attempting to clear and John McGinn showed contrasting composure, picking out Andre Green at the far post to head home.

It means United are two points behind top two Norwich City and Leeds United despite Sharp pulling clear of Abraham at the summit of the Championship scoring charts.

The 33-year-old converted from close range in the 11th minute after Gary Madine headed Oliver Norwood's left-wing corner back across goal.

There was controversy surrounding Sharp's second when, amid suspicions of offside, he bundled home despite Lovre Kalinic appearing to get two hands to the ball.

But it was the Villa goalkeeper's opposite number Henderson who was left crestfallen along with his team-mates at the last.

The English Football League (EFL) is to continue an investigation into Leeds United spying on fellow Championship sides.

After a member of his staff was caught at Derby County's training ground last month, Marcelo Bielsa admitted he has spied on all Leeds' opponents this season.

Bielsa was widely condemned for his approach and 11 clubs contacted the EFL over the incident.

"At its meeting on Friday afternoon, the EFL Board (*excluding representatives of the Championship) considered the matter of the incident in the vicinity of Derby County’s training ground on Thursday January 10," an EFL statement read.

"Following a comprehensive review of all available evidence, it was determined that there remain a number of areas that require further exploration and clarification and these investigations will take place at the earliest opportunity.

"An update on this matter will be provided following receipt and analysis of those subsequent enquiries and until this point no further comment will be made."

Bristol City owner Steve Lansdown previously called for Leeds to be docked points.

"They ought to seriously consider it but I don't think that will happen as I don't think the EFL will be strong enough to do something like that," he told the BBC.

"A fine would go some way towards showing it's not acceptable. Whatever happens we mustn't condone it."

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