Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa reacted angrily when asked by a journalist if he would 'spy' on Derby County again ahead of the Championship play-off semi-final.

Bielsa paid a £200,000 fine given to Leeds after the English Football League sanctioned the club for breaching rules relating to treating opposition teams with the "utmost good faith".

Managers including Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino criticised Bielsa after he admitted sending a staff member to watch all his opponents in training, the story emerging ahead of a game against Derby in January.

The clubs are set to meet again in the play-offs this month after Frank Lampard's Rams won 3-1 at home to West Brom on Sunday to claim sixth spot ahead of Middlesbrough, with Leeds finishing third despite their loss at relegated Ipswich Town.

After his side went down 3-2 against the 10-man Tractor Boys, a result he described as an "accident", Bielsa was asked if there could be a repeat of the 'Spygate' row and he was unimpressed with the line of questioning.

"You know that it's a crime to spy. Do you know that? Do you know it was a crime?" Bielsa said at his post-match news conference.

"When you have a level of ignorance and you work as a journalist, and when you have a right to ask questions and when you lie in your answers and you don't assume the irony and you keep telling what you ignore - if spying is a crime or not - you deserve a response without any conclusion.

"You make your question knowing that observing the opponent is now sanctioned, you know it perfectly and you ask. You deny the fact that you know the answer and you know I received a sanction.

"Is it a joke? If it was I don't understand it. But it's not because I don't have a sense of humour.

"You're not funny."

Lampard's first season as a manager has seen him successfully lead Derby to a top-six finish but he feels the Rams face a major challenge to reach the Premier League.

"The achievement is great to be in that bracket, with Leeds and Aston Villa, but we're massive underdogs. Let's just enjoy that tag and see what we can do," he told Sky Sports.

"I know who they [Leeds] are, I've been asked it a million times. All the history is history. These are two massive games against a team that looked like they were going to run away with it this year.

"We're going to give it everything. I think there will be motivation for everyone at the club. What we as staff and players have to do is take that away and think, 'What can we do over these two matches to win them and [get] a potential game at Wembley?'

"Take away all the spying talk, we didn't play well in either of those games and Leeds beat us well and beat us true. They were good lessons to learn.

"When I talk about us being underdogs I truly believe it. I think they're a fantastic team. We've been more inconsistent than them without a doubt, so there you go."

Norwich City lifted the Championship trophy after a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa saw them fend off the challenge of Sheffield United on a final day that also saw Derby County secure a place in the play-offs.

Derby's 3-1 win over West Brom, who ended the season in fourth, ensured Frank Lampard's men finished sixth ahead of Middlesbrough, who did all they could by beating Rotherham United 2-1.

Leeds United's place in the play-offs was already assured but a 3-2 defeat against the 10 men of already-relegated Ipswich Town left Marcelo Bielsa's men winless in four, while Bristol City, who could have secured a top-six finish if Derby and Middlesbrough slipped up, drew 1-1 at Hull City.

Second-placed Sheffield United, who drew 2-2 at Stoke City, will have the luxury of sitting back and watching while Leeds, West Brom, Villa and Derby contest the Championship play-offs.

 

LATE VRANCIC STRIKE ADDS GLOSS TO CANARIES' GLORY

Mario Vrancic scored Norwich's winner four minutes from time to send their travelling fans wild on a day when Daniel Farke's men were bidding to claim the Championship title.

In the end Sheffield United's draw at Stoke rendered the Canariers' result irrelevant, but it will not have felt that way to Farke and his players who capped a fine season with a win over one of the division's form teams.

Villa were unbeaten in 12 going into the game but they fell behind when Teemu Pukki tapped home Onel Hernandez's cross after seven minutes.

Jonathan Kodjia levelled matters seven minutes later, sweeping Conor Hourihane's low free-kick into the net, and Dean Smith's side looked the better side for spells before Vrancic rifled a shot into the bottom corner of Jed Steer's net from the edge of the box to put the sheen on a day of celebrations across Norfolk.

DERBY SECURE SIXTH AFTER DRAMA AT PRIDE PARK

Derby County clinched a place in the Championship play-offs at Middlesbrough's expense after they beat West Brom 3-1 at Pride Park.

Lampard's men took the lead when Martyn Waghorn rose to meet Jayden Bogle's first-time cross, timing his run well to shake off his marker and nod the ball down into the bottom corner of the net.

Waghorn limped off injured after 40 minutes and Stefan Johansen's equaliser for West Brom meant that Middlesbrough – who were 2-0 up at Rotherham at the time – were set to take the Rams' place in the top six.

But after Tom Lawrence's close-range shot was saved by Sam Johnstone's outstretched leg, Mason Bennett pounced on the rebound and poked it into the net to restore Derby's lead.

Lawrence then jinked his way into the area only to be felled by Kyle Bartley, and Harry Wilson buried the penalty kick in the bottom-left corner of the net before Baggies substitute Hal Robson-Kanu was sent-off for kicking out at Bradley Johnson.

LEEDS SLUMP TO THIRD DEFEAT IN FOUR

A calamitous mix-up between Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla and defender Luke Ayling gifted a winning goal to Collin Quaner, who slid the ball home to earn already-relegated Ipswich a win over Bielsa's out-of-sorts side.

Flynn Downes put Town ahead when the visitors failed to clear their lines at a free-kick, but Mateusz Klich popped up with an equaliser just before the interval, slamming the ball inside the near post from 12 yards.

Andre Dozzell restored Ipswich's lead as Leeds were caught napping at the back two minutes into the second half, before Stuart Dallas equalised from close range when Kemar Roofe's shot rebounded off the crossbar.

Luke Chambers felled Roofe three minutes later and was sent off before the Leeds striker ballooned the ensuing penalty over the bar, and in the final minute the visiting fans were left in disbelief as their side slumped to a third defeat in four matches heading into the play-offs.

THREE POINTS NOT ENOUGH FOR BORO

John Obi Mikel scored his first league goal in English football for almost six years as Middlesbrough beat Rotherham, but a fifth win in six Championship matches was not enough to lift Tony Pulis' men into the play-off places.

Elsewhere, Brentford ended the season on a high as they beat Preston North End 3-0 at Griffin Park, and there were also wins for Nottingham Forest, Queens Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic, while Birmingham City drew 0-0 at Reading and Blackburn Rovers were held to a 2-2 draw by Swansea City.

Sheffield United all but sealed promotion to the Premier League with a 2-0 win over relegated Ipswich Town on Saturday.

The result means the Blades have a six-point advantage over third-placed Leeds United, who host Aston Villa at Elland Road in their game in hand on Sunday.

Scott Hogan turned home Jack O'Connell's cross in the 24th minute to put the Blades on course for victory at Bramall Lane, though they had to be patient in their pursuit of a second goal.

Oliver Norwood's free-kick was kept out by the post, while David McGoldrick and John Egan spurned headed opportunities after the interval.

However, United's dominance saw Ipswich's resistance eventually broken in the 71st minute, O'Connell nodding in John Fleck's corner from close range.

Leeds need to win both their remaining Championship fixtures and United to slip up on the final day at Stoke City to finish above their Yorkshire rivals, though Chris Wilder's side also have the added cushion of a superior goal difference.

Bolton Wanderers players are refusing to play their last two Championship matches of the season due to unpaid wages – a decision that has won the backing of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).

Squad and coaching staff members have still not been paid for March and first-team players reportedly refused to train for 48 hours this month in protest after club workers also went unpaid.

In a statement released on Friday, the players said they will not take to the field for fixtures against Brentford and Nottingham Forest until the matter is resolved.

"This situation is creating mounting mental, emotional and financial burdens for people through no fault of their own," the statement read. "The mental pressure has affected some people to the extent that they feel they are unable to perform their jobs sufficiently.

"These are unprecedented circumstances and are affecting every aspect of our lives, placing great strain on ourselves and our families.

"During this time, we have remained patient in hope of some explanation but information from the club has been extremely limited and very confusing. What we have been told changes constantly.

"With deep regret, we have decided not to fulfil our remaining fixtures unless we are paid. We understand that this will disappoint our fans and for this we sincerely apologise.

"We realise this may be seen as drastic action but we feel we have no other options left. This decision has not been taken lightly and is not a reaction to this one particular incident.

"We have suffered numerous issues this season, and recent seasons, brought on by the mismanagement of this club. We have been operating in a near untenable environment for some time and it is the accumulation of these issues that have resulted in our decision."

The PFA has lent its support to the Bolton players, saying: "The players have shown great patience and loyalty towards the club all season, but today, they have reached a point where action is necessary.

"The PFA has been working with the club since the beginning of the season and we have done all we can to resolve this issue including giving Bolton Wanderers a substantial loan to cover players' salaries in December. 

"We will continue to support and represent the players and work towards a longer-term solution in the best interests of the players and Bolton Wanderers Football Club."

Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini last week agreed a last-minute takeover of the club to prevent them going into administration.

Under-fire Bolton chairman Ken Anderson said he was "very pleased" to hand over ownership of the club, with the deal hoped to lead to the settlement of a High Court case related to an unpaid tax bill.

Bolton's relegation to League One was confirmed last week by their 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, with the club having been in the Premier League as recently as 2012. 

Leeds United's push for promotion from the Championship took another twist as they went down 2-1 at home to 10-man Wigan Athletic.

Sheffield United's victory over Nottingham Forest earlier in the day had moved the Blades second and piled the pressure back on Leeds, and Marcelo Bielsa's side were unable to respond as they slumped to a shock defeat.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough leapfrogged Bristol City – who could only draw with Reading – into the play-off places, while West Brom boosted their slim hopes of automatic promotion thanks to a late comeback win against Hull City.

At the other end of the table, Bolton Wanderers were relegated after losing to Aston Villa while Rotherham United remain in the bottom three despite a battling display in a 4-3 loss away at Swansea City.

There were wins for Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers, with the points shared between Birmingham City and Derby County, while Brentford drew at Millwall in a London derby.

 

PROMOTION RACE TAKES ANOTHER TURN

With Sheffield United having beaten Forest, the pressure was on Leeds to deliver at Elland Road, and a rampant start looked set to pave the way for Bielsa's side to move back into second place.

Wigan went down to 10 men in the 14th minute – Cedric Kipre receiving his marching orders for a deliberate handball – and though Pablo Hernandez missed the resulting penalty, Leeds had the lead soon after thanks to Patrick Bamford's third goal in as many games.

But Wigan would not roll over, and having restored parity on the stroke of half-time, Gavin Massey doubled his tally in the 62nd minute when he headed Leon Clarke's cross in.

Leeds rushed to respond, but could not find an equaliser, and were fortunate that Reece James' free-kick did not dip under the bar.

The victory lifted Wigan five points clear of the relegation places, while Leeds sit third, behind Sheffield United on goal difference, with just three games left to play.

BAGGIES ON THE BOUNCE

Two successive away defeats had cast doubt over West Brom's promotion hopes, but the Baggies are firmly back in the driving seat for the play-offs after they followed up Saturday's 4-1 hammering of Preston with a dramatic win over Hull.

Todd Kane's double cancelled out Kieran Gibbs' opener at The Hawthorns, but Dwight Gayle was on hand to be West Brom's hero.

Having ensured that Hull's lead lasted just three minutes when he headed home from close range, Gayle nodded in his sixth goal in three games to claim the points with five minutes remaining.

West Brom sit fourth, and may still harbour hopes of pushing Leeds and Sheffield United in the automatic promotion race, though a play-off spot seems more likely.

BORO CAPITALISE ON BRISTOL CITY SLIP

Bristol City kicked off the day's proceedings against Reading, but had to rely on a Josh Brownhill equaliser to secure a share of the spoils at Ashton Gate.

That opened up the chance for Middlesbrough to move back into the play-off places, and Tony Pulis' side took their opportunity thanks to Britt Assombalonga's early goal against Stoke City.

The Potters have been in dismal form under Nathan Jones, and since he took over on January 12, Stoke have scored the fewest goals, attempted the fewest shots and attempted the fewest shots on target in the league.

BOLTON BACK IN LEAGUE ONE

It was always unlikely that Bolton would escape the drop, and a fourth successive defeat finally confirmed their relegation to League One.

Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini has agreed a deal to buy Wanderers, but they will play next season in the third tier after goals from Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham saw Aston Villa ease to a comfortable victory.

Two of the relegated teams have now been confirmed - with Ipswich Town already down, though the race to avoid the drop remains on for Rotherham, despite Paul Warne's side ending up on the losing side of a seven-goal thriller at Swansea. 

Millwall sit on 43 points following their draw with Brentford, while Birmingham edged closer to safety by drawing 2-2 with Derby at home.

Sheffield United failed to put maximum pressure on Leeds United in the Championship promotion race with a dramatic 1-1 home draw against Millwall, while Ipswich Town were relegated to League One.

With Leeds in action later in the day against Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road, the Blades had a chance to go two points ahead of Marcelo Bielsa's men and Gary Madine's goal seemed to have earned them victory.

Ben Marshall missed a late penalty for Millwall after John Egan was sent off, but Jake Cooper struck deep in added time for the relegation-threatened visitors.

Aston Villa's home win against Bristol City tightened the race for the top six, with West Brom, Middlesbrough and Derby County all collecting three points too, but Ipswich's time in the second tier is over.

 

BLADES LACK CUTTING EDGE

Sheffield United have lost form at a bad time of the season, with Chris Wilder's side having won only one of their past four Championship matches to hand the advantage to Leeds.

Madine's third league goal since joining on loan from Cardiff City in the January transfer window looked to have put his side clear of Leeds, at least temporarily.

But nerves struck in the closing stages and, after Egan was dismissed for handball having blocked a header from Tom Elliott, Marshall missed the resulting penalty.

Millwall punished the 10 men, however, with Cooper's diving header in the fifth minute of added time pushing the Lions two points clear of the relegation zone.


READING BOOSTED, IPSWICH DROP

Yakou Meite hit a priceless double for Reading in a 2-1 home win over Brentford that moved the Royals four points clear of the bottom three.

Meite struck twice in the first 15 minutes and, although Neal Maupay replied for the Bees with his 22nd Championship goal of the season, Jose Gomes' side held on.

Survival hopes are over for Ipswich, though, with Paul Lambert's side relegated despite Gwion Edwards' equaliser earning a 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham City, who are now six points above the danger zone.

Rotherham United came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stoke City, Michael Smith and Matt Crooks scoring in the second half to move the Millers within a point of safety.

QPR recorded their first win under caretaker boss John Eustace by thrashing mid-table Swansea City 4-0 at Loftus Road, Tomer Hemed with a double that sees Rangers pull eight points clear of Rotherham.

Bolton Wanderers, meanwhile, are likely to follow Ipswich through the trap door. Their 4-0 loss at Derby was their fifth defeat in six Championship matches and they are nine points adrift of 21st-placed Wigan Athletic, with the visit of leaders Norwich City to come on Sunday.


VILLA ON THE CHARGE

Bolton's next game is at home to Villa, with Dean Smith's men making it eight wins in a row courtesy of a 2-1 victory over top-six rivals Bristol City.

Goals from Tammy Abraham and Conor Hourihane set up Villa's win, although Famara Diedhiou hit back for Bristol City, who had been unbeaten in their last five games.

Middlesbrough continue to improve after a six-game losing streak seemed to have ended their play-off hopes, with a 1-0 win over Hull City secured thanks to Britt Assombalonga's first-half goal.

But slim top-six hopes are fading fast for Nottingham Forest and Preston North End. Forest lost 2-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers, their third straight defeat, while it is four reverses in a row for Preston after they went down 4-1 at West Brom.

Dwight Gayle fired in a hat-trick for James Shan's Baggies, who are close to guaranteeing a play-off place and are only six points behind Sheffield United.

Norwich City missed the chance to move eight points clear at the top of the Championship after drawing 2-2 at home with Reading on Wednesday.

Daniel Farke's side are still red-hot favourites to win promotion to the Premier League, though, given that they have a seven-point lead over third-place Sheffield United, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Birmingham City.

Aston Villa cemented their place in the play-off positions with a 2-1 win away at Rotherham United, while Hull City maintained their late bid for a top-six finish with a 2-1 victory over Wigan Athletic.

Ipswich Town edged ever closer to relegation following a 2-0 defeat at Brentford, while Millwall and Queens Park Rangers played out a goalless draw.

RINOMHOTA DENIES CANARIES AT THE DEATH

Andy Rinomhota scored in the seventh minute of stoppage time to put a dent in Norwich's march towards the Championship title.

The Royals took a 30th-minute lead when Yakou Meite fired home, but a stirring late fightback looked to have sealed all three points for Farke's men.

Ben Godfrey pulled the hosts level before Christoph Zimmermann put them ahead two minutes later. Reading had the final say, however, with Rinomhota firing home late on to clinch the visitors a dramatic point.

BLADES' TOP-TWO BID SUFFERS A BLOW

Leeds United's 2-0 win over Preston North End on Tuesday cranked up the pressure on Chris Wilder's side ahead of their visit to Birmingham - and they were unable to match their promotion rivals by picking up three points on the road.

Enda Stevens scored after 38 minutes but Sheffield United’s lead lasted just four minutes, Michael Morrison prodding home from close range to ensure a share of the spoils.

The Blades are now a point behind their Yorkshire rivals in the race for second spot, while Birmingham sit six points above the drop zone.

VILLA IN SEVENTH HEAVEN

Aston Villa's superb recent form continued as they beat struggling Rotherham in a game that featured three penalties.

Tammy Abraham missed from the spot before Will Vaulks gave the hosts the lead from 12 yards after Tyrone Mings was penalised for handball – an offence that saw him shown a straight red card.

Jonathan Kodjia made no mistake from the spot shortly after the interval, setting up Jack Grealish to seal all three points in the 51st minute as he finished off a flowing move.

A seventh win in a row gives Villa a five-point lead over seventh-place Middlesbrough, while Rotherham remain two points away from safety in 22nd.

Sheffield United moved back ahead of Leeds United as the battle for the second automatic promotion spot in the Championship intensified on Saturday. 

The Blades, who had fallen behind their Yorkshire rivals last weekend, battled to a 1-0 win at Preston North End, while Leeds fell to a shock loss at Birmingham City.

Leaders Norwich City prevailed in the early kick-off, thrashing QPR, while Aston Villa's fine form continued with a dramatic win at Sheffield Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Bristol City, Derby County, Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest all dropped points in pursuit of a play-off spot.

In the fight for survival, Bolton Wanderers' misery continued with a loss to Ipswich Town, but there were big wins for Rotherham United and Millwall.

BLADES STAY SHARP TO RECLAIM SECOND

It has been a thrilling battle between the Blades and Leeds and this weekend belonged to Chris Wilder's men.

David McGoldrick's first-half goal settled matters at Deepdale, where Preston's top-six hopes took a hit.

But it was Marcelo Bielsa's men who suffered arguably the biggest shock of the day, beaten 1-0 by a Blues side who had lost five on the bounce.

Che Adams' goal proved decisive and came just after Patrick Bamford had struck the post for Leeds.

Those results came after Norwich had thrashed QPR 4-0 at Carrow Road, with Teemu Pukki on target twice as the Canaries moved seven points clear heading into the final six games.

BRUCE TASTES BITTER DEFEAT 

Wednesday boss Steve Bruce faced his former employers at Hillsborough and saw his side ship two late goals in a 3-1 loss.

It was 1-1 heading into injury time, with Albert Adomah and Tammy Abraham netting to boost Villa's promotion hopes.

Dean Smith's charges are now fifth after a sixth league win on the bounce.

As for Wednesday, their dreams of a late surge into the top six look to have been ended.

PLAY-OFF HOPEFULS STUTTER

It was not only the Owls who fluffed their lines on Saturday, with Derby held to a thrilling 3-3 draw at Brentford.

Frank Lampard's side, who led three times, remain two points behind sixth-placed Bristol City, who also had to settle for a point following Nathan Byrne's last-gasp leveller for Wigan Athletic.

Tony Pulis' Boro lost 3-1 at Swansea City, and Forest were beaten 2-1 by lowly Rotherham.

 

TENSION BUILDS IN SURVIVAL BATTLE

That win for the Millers, who occupy the final relegation spot, put them within a point of Reading.

The Royals lost 3-1 at Hull City, while Millwall moved a point clear of the danger zone thanks to a 2-0 home win over high-flying West Brom.

Ahmed Hegazi in particular had a day to forget for the Baggies, scoring an own goal and seeing red.

Bolton, whose very future hangs in the balance, could find no solace on the pitch as Collin Quaner's double saw rock-bottom Ipswich to a 2-1 win.

Elsewhere, Stoke City prevailed 1-0 at Blackburn Rovers.

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.

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.

Pablo Hernandez scored a brace as Leeds United eased to a 3-0 win away to Reading to move top of the Championship.

With Norwich City in action at home to Hull City on Wednesday, Marcelo Bielsa's men knew they had the chance to take top spot.

And they wasted no time at the Madejski Stadium, Mateusz Klich getting them up and running with the opener in the 14th minute.

Luke Ayling created that goal and the right-back was soon at it again, setting up Hernandez for the first of his brace.

And when Hernandez added his second of the game just before half-time, Leeds were heading into top spot with nine games to go.

BLADES MAINTAIN THE PRESSURE

Sheffield United moved within a point of Norwich thanks to their 2-0 win at home to Brentford despite Gary Madine's first-half red card.

Captain Oliver Norwood converted a penalty to put the Blades in front before Madine was dismissed, David McGoldrick striking late to seal the points.

Bristol City moved into sixth spot, replacing Derby County, despite Lee Johnson's men failing to beat bottom side Ipswich Town at home, Lloyd Kelly scoring an own goal to hand the Tractor Boys a point.

Ipswich are 11 points adrift of safety with Paul Lambert's side now having drawn five of their past six Championship fixtures by the same 1-1 scoreline.

 

OWLS FLYING HIGH UNDER BRUCE

Sheffield Wednesday's unbeaten run under new manager Steve Bruce continued with a 2-0 win away to crisis club Bolton Wanderers.

Steven Fletcher and Rolando Aarons struck either side of half-time to send the Owls up to ninth in the table, just three points outside the play-off places.

Wigan Athletic remain two points above the relegation zone after a crushing 3-0 defeat away to Blackburn Rovers, Danny Graham netting a brace at Ewood Park.

Norwich City returned to the top of the Championship after battling to a 3-1 away victory over Millwall, while Derby County's play-off hopes were dented in a heavy defeat to Aston Villa.

After Leeds United's impressive win over promotion rivals West Brom on Friday, the Canaries did what they had to do on Saturday to move two points above Marcelo Bielsa's men at the summit.

Two of the other teams in the top six did not fare so well, as Middlesbrough were held to a goalless draw at Wigan Athletic and Bristol City also had to settle for a point in a 1-1 away draw with Preston North End.

Villa led by four goals at the break in their 4-0 home romp against Derby, with Brentford, Hull City, Reading, Rotherham United, Stoke City and Swansea City the other teams to taste victory.
 

NORWICH DO THE JOB TO LEAD ONCE AGAIN

Norwich's statement was not as emphatic as that of Leeds, but with 11 games remaining Daniel Farke's men are in the box seat for a place in the Premier League.

They did not have it all their own way against Millwall, with Marco Stiepermann's opener pegged back by Shuan Williams' header just before half-time.

However, Norwich captain Christoph Zimmermann netted with an aerial effort of his own after the break and an impressive Teemu Pukki finish – the Championship top scorer's 24th league goal of the season – sealed a fifth win in six.

In the race for automatic promotion, all eyes are now on third-placed Sheffield United, who are away to rivals Sheffield Wednesday on Monday.

DERBY HAMMERED… BUT IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE

It was a miserable day for Derby as they were thrashed by Villa, but the damage could have been even worse on a day that started badly with Conor Hourihane netting in the ninth minute.

It looked like they were on course for an even more humiliating scoreline than 4-0 after a dreadful eight minutes before half-time saw them concede three times through Tammy Abraham, a second from Hourihane and a stunning volley from Jack Grealish on his return from injury.

But fortunately for the Rams that was the end of the scoring, and in terms of the league table, Bristol City and Middlesbrough's failure to win kept them within striking distance of the top six, but Frank Lampard will undoubtedly be concerned by a third straight loss without scoring.

FALSE ALARM FOR HULL

In an odd moment, Hull fans were twice told to leave the KCOM Stadium in a false alarm announced by the automatic public-address system. It did not distract the hosts, though, as they beat Birmingham City 2-0 courtesy of Jarrod Bowen's double.

That was the same score as Swansea City defeated nine-man Bolton Wanderers, two goals in the last 10 minutes breaking the shorthanded visitors' hearts.

Stoke were also 2-0 winners, beating Nottingham Forest, while Brentford defeated QPR 3-0 and Semi Ajayi's double saw Rotherham win 3-2 against Blackburn Rovers.

Bottom-of-the-table Ipswich Town suffered a 2-1 home loss to relegation rivals Reading, Mo Barrow scoring a last-minute winner.

Norwich City and Leeds United each scored second-half winners as the Championship promotion race kicked up a gear on Saturday.

Leaders Norwich twice trailed at home to Bristol City but triumphed 3-2 thanks to Kenny McLean's brace, while Ezgjan Alioski's fortunate goal handed Leeds a 2-1 defeat of Bolton Wanderers at Elland Road.

A 2-0 home win against freefalling QPR saw Middlesbrough solidify their fifth place behind West Brom and Sheffield United, who meet at The Hawthorns later in the day, while Preston North End boosted their play-off hopes with a 3-1 success at FA Cup quarter-finalists Millwall.

Bottom side Ipswich Town were denied a crucial victory at Wigan Athletic by Joe Garner's injury-time goal while Reading and Rotherham United are locked together on 30 points after playing out a 1-1 draw.

 

LEADERS WORK HARD FOR WINS

Norwich and Leeds did not have it easy with both of the Championship's top two having been in grave danger of dropping decisive points in the battle to reach the Premier League.

Bristol City were in front twice at Carrow Road thanks to goals from Jamie Paterson and Callum O'Dowda but McLean's second of the game, a superb 25-yard drive, saw the leaders prevail.

Patrick Bamford's penalty put Leeds in front against Bolton but, after Mark Beevers hit back from close range for the relegation-threatened Wanderers, Alioski kept Marcelo Bielsa's men two points off top spot.

There was more than a stroke of luck about the winner, however, as Alioski's intended cross curled and dipped over the head of visiting goalkeeper Remi Matthews.

 

ADAMS' HOT STREAK CONTINUES AFTER MULGREW MAGIC

With sixth-placed Bristol City beaten there was a chance for the chasing pack to make up ground on the play-off spots, but Birmingham City could only draw 2-2 at home to Blackburn Rovers.

In-form striker Che Adams scored twice - taking his 2019 Championship tally to 10 - by hitting both the opening and final goals of a gripping contest at St. Andrew's.

Rovers captain Charlie Mulgrew scored direct from a corner for the third time this season but, after Danny Graham had seemingly won it for Tony Mowbray's men, Adams tucked home from a tight angle for a share of the spoils.

Stoke City and Aston Villa also drew on the day tributes were paid to the late goalkeeping great Gordon Banks, with Sam Vokes' first strike since joining the Potters from Burnley cancelled out by Albert Adomah's goal.

LATE DRAMA AT THE BOTTOM

Despite manager Paul Lambert serving a touchline ban, Ipswich were on track for a huge win at Wigan thanks to Will Keane's first-half penalty, but Garner struck from close range in the 91st minute to deny his former club and earn the Latics a point.

Ovie Ejaria's goal had given Reading a vital lead at home to Rotherham, with the Royals set to move three points away from the drop zone. But a scruffy finish from Semi Ajayi with 11 minutes to go kept the Millers on Reading's tail.

Meanwhile, Said Benrahma hit a hat-trick as Brentford thumped Hull City 5-1 and, after Adam Reach's brace, Steven Fletcher scored an overhead kick in Sheffield Wednesday's 3-1 success against Swansea City at Hillsborough.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert has accepted a two-match touchline ban from the Football Association (FA) after his behaviour during a derby defeat to Norwich City.

Lambert was led away by a police officer when he was dismissed following a scuffle on the touchline in the aftermath of a tackle by Jon Nolan on Max Aarons.

Ipswich went on to lose 3-0 to promotion-chasing Norwich and former Canaries boss Lambert opted not to contest the FA charge, meaning he will miss upcoming games against Wigan Athletic and Reading.

"Norwich City have been fined £25,000 and Ipswich Town have been fined £20,000 after accepting a charge for failing 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 minutes of their EFL Championship fixture on February 10," said an FA statement.

"In addition, Paul Lambert has been given a two-match touchline ban, effective immediately, and fined £3,000 after he also accepted an FA improper conduct charge concerning his behaviour in the 45th minute of the fixture."

Ipswich are bottom of the Championship table, nine points adrift of safety after winning one league game in two months, and Lambert is unsure what impact the ban could have on his struggling side.

"There was no point appealing because I wasn't going to win but I have had my say about what when on and I stand by every word," he told Ipswich's club website.

"I'll get on with it now. It's not ideal but I trust my staff to do what I ask them to do. There will be no problem there. Will it make a difference, not being on the touchline? I don't know. I can talk to the players before the game and after. They will know what is expected of them."

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