Norwich City moved eight points clear at the top of the Championship with a ruthless 4-0 defeat of managerless QPR in Saturday's early game.

With second-placed Leeds United and third-placed Sheffield United not in action until later in the day, Norwich took another step towards promotion, at least temporarily striding 10 points ahead of the Blades.

QPR were playing for the first time since Steve McClaren's sacking in the week and they showed little fight at Carrow Road, with a new manager yet to be confirmed.

It took Norwich just six minutes to break the deadlock as Emiliano Buendia was left unmarked in the area to sweep home, and the second soon followed when Marco Stiepermann's low drive crept past Joe Lumley.

Further chances came and went for the dominant hosts before Luke Freeman gifted the ball to Buendia shortly before half-time and he fed Teemu Pukki to coolly add number three.

Norwich took their foot off the gas following the interval and their afternoon was marred by a red card for the excellent Buendia following a senseless lunge on Josh Scowen, but QPR never threatened a response and Pukki slammed in his second late on.

Bristol City moved back up to fifth in the Championship with a 1-0 victory over fellow play-off contenders Middlesbrough on Tuesday.

Adam Webster's first-half header proved the difference at the Riverside, where Boro were booed off after a fifth straight defeat that left them eighth – two points adrift of Aston Villa in sixth.

George Saville blazed over a glorious opportunity before Jonny Howson failed to get the better of Max O'Leary when one on one in the 20th minute.

Howson saw another attempt deflected onto the post and Ashley Fletcher's follow-up was cleared off the line, with Webster's goal coming against the run of play in the 31st minute.

Britt Assombalonga also struck the woodwork after the restart but Boro were unable to find a route back into the game.

Swansea City ended a run of three straight defeats with a resounding 3-0 victory at home to Brentford, who are now winless in four.

Nathan Dyer was on target after just 31 seconds – his first league goal for the Swans since August 2014 – and he doubled his tally after Daniel James rattled the crossbar.

Bersant Celina struck the woodwork before half-time but James got the hosts' third on the follow-up after Connor Roberts' effort came back off the upright in the 78th minute.

Graham Potter's team moved up to 14th, level with Brentford on 50 points.

Bolton Wanderers' next two home Championship matches are in doubt after the club was ordered to keep fans out of the stadium on safety grounds.

The regional Safety Advisory Group has placed a prohibition notice on the club, meaning supporters cannot enter the University of Bolton Stadium until it can be proved they can "deliver the matchday operation to the standard required".

It means the games against Ipswich on April 6 and Middlesbrough on April 9 are under threat.

The EFL said in a statement on Tuesday: "Whilst disappointed, the EFL understands the rationale for the position taken by the SAG at this time. 

"However, we still hope the fixtures will take place as planned. We will work with the club and offer them any practical assistance that is available to us in an attempt to find a successful and timely resolution to the issue."

Bolton told the SAG they are unable to commit to meeting safety requirements prior to a High Court hearing on Wednesday, which is related to unpaid debts.

On Monday, players reportedly refused to train after staff were not paid salaries on time for the second month in a row.

Chairman Ken Anderson confirmed on Tuesday that he has accepted an offer for the club "of less than what I paid, so I am not holding out for a big profit as is continuously and incorrectly bandied around in the media and on social media".

He also apologised to non-playing staff for the delay over wages, adding: "Fortunately, they did not choose to go on strike and their loyalty to the club cannot be questioned, unlike the players' decision, which unfortunately has a negative rather than a positive logic behind it.

"I am not quite sure what the players think striking will achieve."

Bolton are five points from safety in the Championship, with seven matches remaining.

Steve McClaren has been sacked by QPR after a run of just one win in 15 Championship games.

The former England boss replaced Ian Holloway in May 2018 but has been dismissed with the club in 17th, eight points above the relegation zone.

QPR's last win came on February 26 against Leeds United and Saturday's home defeat to second-bottom Bolton Wanderers proved to be the final straw for the board, who have placed McClaren's assistant John Eustace in charge while they recruit a permanent replacement.

"Making a decision such as this is never easy, particularly when you are talking about someone as professional and dedicated as Steve," chief executive Lee Hoos said in a statement.

"It is well documented that we are in a period of transition as we work hard to make the club financially stable. As we look to the future, and taking recent results into account, we feel now is the right time to re-evaluate where we are."

Onel Hernandez scored the only goal of the game as Norwich City won 1-0 at Middlesbrough to move five points clear at the top of the Championship.

With Sheffield United beaten earlier in the day, the table-topping Canaries took full advantage to stretch the gap to now-second-placed Leeds United thanks to Hernandez's fine strike.

Norwich enjoyed the best chances of the first half and Darren Randolph twice frustrated Teemu Pukki with smart stops from the in-form forward.

Boro almost broke the deadlock shortly after the interval when Daniel Ayala crashed a header from Ryan Shotton's long throw against the foot of the post, but the breakthrough came at the other end after 54 minutes.

Hernandez cut inside from the left and drilled a low effort inside Randolph's near post to set Norwich up for a late defensive showing.

And despite a couple of scrambles in Tim Krul's box in the closing stages, Boro could not find an equaliser and remain in eighth place, having dropped out of the play-off places after results elsewhere on Saturday.

Leeds United moved up to second place in the Championship table by capitalising on Sheffield United's slip-up at home to Bristol City. 

With leaders Norwich City in action away to Middlesbrough later on Saturday, there was a chance for the Yorkshire rivals to stake their promotion claims. 

While an Andreas Weimann treble earned Bristol City a surprise victory, Pablo Hernandez struck a brace to help Leeds see off Millwall at Elland Road. 

Derby County thrashed Rotherham United 6-1 to climb into the play-off places while there was a big win at the other end of the table for Bolton Wanderers.

 

HERNANDEZ THE HERO

Leeds supporters were put through a heart-stopping match as Marcelo Bielsa's side twice came from behind to beat Millwall 3-2 and leapfrog Sheffield United in the process.

The hosts looked as panicky as the crowd when Ben Thompson headed Millwall in front after 10 minutes and their nerves were not helped when Patrick Bamford had a penalty saved by David Martin in the 19th minute.

Leeds came to life just after the half-hour mark when Hernandez finished a sweeping passing move with a neat finish, but Liam Cooper brought down Ben Marshall 10 minutes into the second half and the Lions winger converted the ensuing penalty himself.

Substitute Barry Douglas crossed for Luke Ayling to pop up with a superb headed goal and Bielsa's commitment to attacking football paid off as his side poured forward in search of a winner that arrived, Tyler Roberts cutting the ball back for Hernandez to hammer home.


BLADES BLUNTED

Chris Wilder's men had won eight in a row at home in the league, not even conceding in front of their own fans in 2019, so few would have expected Bristol City to take the points at Bramall Lane. 

Billy Sharp's 23rd Championship goal of the season put Sheffield United in front in the sixth minute and Scott Hogan also scored for the hosts, though Weimann twice equalised to bring his side level. 

And the former Aston Villa forward completed his treble in the 83rd minute to end a five-game winless run in the league for Lee Johnson's men, who move up to eighth place with their play-off hopes revived. 

Aston Villa's 2-1 triumph at home to Blackburn Rovers, their fifth Championship win in a row, leaves Dean Smith's team fifth. Derby are just behind after Martyn Waghorn's hat-trick helped thrash Rotherham, although Middlesbrough can move back into the top six by avoiding defeat against Norwich. 

Nottingham Forest's 2-1 win against Swansea City, a comeback victory at the City Ground secured thanks to late Daryl Murphy and Molla Wague goals, also keeps Martin O'Neill's men in the hunt for a play-off place but Sheffield Wednesday's top-six charge was dented by a 0-0 draw at Stoke City.


HOPE FOR BOLTON

Off the field issues continue to make the headlines for Bolton Wanderers, but Phil Parkinson's side moved within five points of safety with a 2-1 victory at Queens Park Rangers. 

Goals from Will Buckley and Callum Connolly set up their second win in four Championship games, although a late reply from Nahki Wells made for a nervy finish at Loftus Road.

QPR are now winless in five Championship games and pressure is growing on former England manager Steve McClaren, while Reading are four points clear of the drop zone after a 2-1 triumph over Preston North End. 

Wigan Athletic also edged up to 40 points by virtue of a goalless draw at home to Brentford, but Ipswich Town's fate is close to being sealed with a 2-0 home loss to Hull City leaving the Tractor Boys 13 points adrift with only seven games to play.

West Brom boosted their hopes of securing automatic promotion from the Championship as they came from behind to beat Birmingham City 3-2 in a frantic derby.

Having fallen behind for the second time when Lukas Jutkiewicz headed in just before the hour, West Brom rallied through Jay Rodriguez's penalty before Jake Livermore hammered home to secure a significant win.

Birmingham, docked nine points last week for breaching financial rules on profitability and sustainability, had the better of the first half – Gary Gardner heading in early on, while Jutkiewicz squandered a great chance to double their lead.

Dwight Gayle should have made Birmingham pay for that profligacy on the stroke of half-time, only to head over from point-blank range, but he made amends after the restart, nodding in from Chris Brunt's excellent free-kick.

But like Gayle, Jutkiewicz made no mistake when afforded a second chance, directing Connor Mahoney's pinpoint delivery past Sam Johnstone.

Birmingham's lead was short-lived, though – Mahoney adjudged to have brought down Conor Townsend in the area, with Rodriguez sending Lee Camp the wrong way.

And the turnaround was complete in the 74th minute, Camp unable to keep out Livermore's powerful strike as West Brom moved to within four points of second-placed Sheffield United, while Birmingham, five points above 22nd-placed Rotherham United, are in danger of being dragged into a relegation scrap.

Sheffield United's Chris Wilder beat Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa to being named Championship Manager of the Year in the 2019 EFL Awards, while only two players from the Elland Road club made it into the Team of the Season.

Bielsa joined Leeds to much fanfare at the start of the season and has overseen a remarkable upturn in the club's on-field fortunes, turning a team that finished 13th last term into one challenging for promotion.

Daniel Farke, in charge of pacesetters Norwich City, has done a similarly impressive job in his second season at the helm after they ended last season a place below Leeds.

But it is Wilder who has been recognised for his achievements, with the Blades – who earned promotion from League One last term – just behind Norwich heading into the final stages of the campaign.

Bielsa's snub could potentially be explained by the so-called 'spygate' scandal, when it became apparent the Argentinian coach had sent people to surreptitiously watch training sessions of every other club in the division, earning Leeds a £200,000 fine.

Some may feel Leeds were underrepresented in the Team of the Season, with only Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips in the side.

Norwich have more players in the XI than any other team, with Jamal Lewis, Max Aarons and Teemu Pukki selected.

Finland international Pukki, who has scored 24 league goals in his first season in England, is also among the three Championship Player of the Season candidates, alongside Billy Sharp and Che Adams of the Blades and Birmingham City respectively.

 

Championship Team of the Season:

Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough); Jamal Lewis (Norwich City), Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Reece James (Wigan Athletic), Max Aarons (Norwich City); Oliver Norwood (Sheffield United), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Jarrod Bowen (Hull City); Che Adams (Birmingham City), Billy Sharp (Sheffield United), Teemu Pukki (Norwich City).

Birmingham City claim to have made changes to ensure spending rules are not broken again, but the Championship club are yet to confirm if they will appeal against a nine-point deduction.

The English Football League (EFL) announced on Friday that Birmingham have been docked points following an investigation into the club's finances.

Birmingham were found to have breached rules on profitability and sustainability, with the deduction immediately coming into effect.

Garry Monk's side therefore drop from 13th in the Championship table to 18th, five points clear of the relegation zone, with eight games of the season to go.

Birmingham have 14 days to decide whether or not to lodge an appeal against the punishment, with the club releasing a statement in response to the EFL's announcement.

"The club has put measures in place to ensure future spending is within acceptable limits and since August we have adhered to an EFL business plan, which imposed transfer restrictions upon us," Birmingham said.

"When the club's owners took over, Birmingham City Football Club was in a dire position and investment was critical across many aspects of the business, including the first team, women's team, academy and the infrastructure.

"Then, as now, decisions by the owners and the board of directors were taken with the club's best interests at heart and a determination to halt a cycle of decline and stagnation, with the intention of pushing on to fulfil ours and our fans' ambitions.

"This season we have taken significant strides forward on and off the pitch and the owners' commitment and intention to drive continued improvement of the club's fortunes will not diminish.

"Birmingham City Football Club notes that it has 14 days in which to appeal the decision of the independent Disciplinary Commission and with that in mind we will be making no further comment."

Birmingham City have been deducted nine points rules for breaching rules on profitability and sustainability, the English Football League (EFL) has announced.

The punishment means Birmingham, who have lost their last four league games, drop from 13th in the Championship table to 18th, five points clear of the relegation zone.

Former manager Harry Redknapp spent heavily before steering the club away from relegation to League One in the 2016-17 season, but has denied responsibility for the points deduction.

"It's surely down to the people who run the club, like the chief executive and the chairman, or whoever, to know if we've got any money to spend," Redknapp told The Daily Telegraph ahead of the EFL announcement.

"I didn't know anything about Financial Fair Play. I was never warned by anyone at the football club that there was going to be a problem with that."

The EFL said Birmingham recorded losses in excess of the £39million upper loss threshold for the three-year period 2015-16 to 2017-18. Birmingham have 14 days to appeal the decision.

"The Profitability and Sustainability Rules, aligned with those in the Premier League, became effective in 2015-16," said an EFL spokesperson.

"Season 2017-18 was the end of the first full reporting period with Birmingham City the only club found to have breached those requirements, when it incurred adjusted losses of £48.787million, £9.787million in excess of the permitted losses.

"The Disciplinary Commission had the opportunity to consider all relevant factors in reaching its determination, including the club's mitigation."

Birmingham City have been deducted nine points rules for breaching rules on profitability and sustainability, the English Football League (EFL) has announced.

The punishment means Birmingham, who have lost their last four league games, drop from 13th in the Championship table to 18th, five points clear of the relegation zone.

Former manager Harry Redknapp spent heavily before steering the club away from relegation to League One in the 2016-17 season, but has denied responsibility for the points deduction.

"It's surely down to the people who run the club, like the chief executive and the chairman, or whoever, to know if we've got any money to spend," Redknapp told The Daily Telegraph ahead of the EFL announcement.

"I didn't know anything about Financial Fair Play. I was never warned by anyone at the football club that there was going to be a problem with that."

Tammy Abraham is determined to get the chance to play for Chelsea next season after some strong performances for Aston Villa.

The 21-year-old striker has scored 21 goals in 32 Championship appearances in 2018-19, helping to lead the club's charge for the play-off places.

Chelsea are facing the prospect of being unable to register new players until January 2020, having been issued a one-year transfer ban by FIFA for breaching regulations over the signing of young players, although the club are appealing against the punishment.

Abraham could become involved more regularly at Stamford Bridge if they cannot sign any new forwards, and he intends to make the most of any opportunity he is given.

"That's the aim going into next season," he told Sky Sports News. "As a young kid, I've always believed I will play for Chelsea. I always believe that.

"I think I have the ability to. I just have to, when I get the opportunity, grab it with two hands."

Abraham has this week seen England Under-21 team-mate Callum Hudson-Odoi called up to the senior national squad, and he is delighted for the winger.

"He was always coming into my house. We didn't really play together because he was a bit too young, but he was my brother's age," said Abraham. "They're good mates.

"Watching him grow up to where he is now, he's done very well. He's more than deserved this call-up. I'm very happy for him.

"Ever since a young age, he's been unbelievable. Now he's actually doing it in men's football for the world to see. It's heart-warming. I just hope he continues that and carries on building."

Aston Villa and Birmingham City have each been fined £5,000 by the Football Association (FA) for their skirmish in the Second City derby at St Andrew's.

Players from both sides clashed following Birmingham midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld's challenge on Jack Grealish in the early stages of the Championship encounter.

The FA confirmed the punishment in a statement on Monday.

It read: "Both clubs accepted a charge and the standard penalty for failing to ensure that their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during the fifth minute."

Kieftenbeld was shown a yellow card for the tackle before a spectator ran onto the pitch and punched Villa captain Grealish.

Paul Mitchell, 27, pleaded guilty to assault and was jailed for 14 weeks.

Birmingham have until Friday to respond to an FA charge stemming from the attack on Grealish, who scored the only goal in the visitors' 1-0 victory.

Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson will be sidelined for three weeks after suffering a knee injury, the Championship club have confirmed.

Jansson was in clear discomfort during the closing stages of Leeds' 1-0 defeat to promotion rivals Sheffield United on Saturday but completed the 90 minutes – remarkably concluding the match as an emergency goalkeeper after Kiko Casilla was sent off.

The 28-year-old centre-back has withdrawn from Sweden's squad for their opening Euro 2020 qualifiers against Romania and Scandinavian neighbours Norway.

"Pontus Jansson will not join up with the Swedish national team during the international break," read a statement from Leeds.

"The centre-back suffered an injury to his knee in Saturday's game with Sheffield United, which will see him sidelined for three weeks.

"Jansson will begin his rehab at Thorp Arch with the Leeds United medical team this week."

Leeds are third in the Championship with eight games remaining, a point behind Sheffield United in the second automatic promotion spot.

Jansson will miss Millwall's visit to Elland Road on March 30, with the subsequent back-to-back away games against Birmingham City and Preston North End his targets for a return.

Pep Guardiola was "sorry" to see Manchester City beat Swansea City in the FA Cup quarter-finals by benefiting from the lack of VAR at the Liberty Stadium.

City found themselves 2-0 down after 29 minutes, as Swansea's excellent first-half performance put them on course for a famous upset.

But Bernardo Silva's fine outside-of-the-boot effort pulled one back 21 minutes from the end, before Raheem Sterling contentiously won a penalty despite Cameron Carter-Vickers appearing to get the ball – Sergio Aguero's effort going in off goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt.

Aguero then completed the turnaround at the end with a header despite appearing to stray offside and, had VAR been in use, their second and third goals arguably would have been disallowed.

The technology is in use in the FA Cup and was available at the Liberty Stadium last season, but the Football Association is reported to have opted against equipping the ground with VAR since their relegation to the Championship and Guardiola was rueful.

Speaking in his post-match news conference, Guardiola said: "All around Europe there is VAR, here there is not. I don't like to win in that way. I am sorry."

The win saw City keep their hopes of winning a famous quadruple alive, though Guardiola is not getting carried away thinking about such achievements.

"Ask me again in April, the end of April, ask me this question and I will answer," Guardiola told BT Sport when asked if they can complete the quadruple.

"I want to congratulate the team and everybody. We are satisfied to be in contention. I know I'll be a failure if I don't win all the titles, I'm sorry," the City boss quipped.

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