Sheffield United claimed another big win in their bid for promotion from the Championship as they beat Hull City 3-0 to pile the pressure on Leeds United.

With Leeds facing Brentford in Monday's late fixture, the second-placed Blades moved three points clear of Marcelo Bielsa's side with a dominant display at KCOM Stadium.

Above them, Norwich City were held to a fourth successive draw, and with two games remaining, their lead has been reduced to just three points.

Play-off candidates Middlesbrough and Bristol City succumbed to defeats at Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday respectively, and Derby County took the chance to move into the top six thanks to a Harry Wilson late show against QPR.

In the early game, Aston Villa beat Millwall to claim their 10th successive win, while at the other end of the table Wigan Athletic secured safety with a 2-0 victory over Preston North End.

BLADES SHARP AS THE RUN-IN HOTS UP

Having seen off Forest on Friday, Sheffield United took full advantage of playing before Leeds by dismantling Hull in a Yorkshire derby.

Chris Wilder's side took the lead 10 minutes in – David McGoldrick heading home unmarked from John Fleck's corner – and the Blades never looked back.

McGoldrick doubled his tally 12 minutes later, curling in an excellent finish from 25 yards out, with Enda Stevens capitalising on more slack Hull defending to effectively wrap up the points before half-time.

While securing automatic promotion will be the priority, United are just three points behind Norwich with two games – against Ipswich Town and Stoke City – still to come.

CANARIES' CELEBRATIONS STILL ON HOLD

A matter of weeks ago, it looked as though Norwich's charge to the title, and the Premier League, was a mere formality.

Now, however, after yet another draw, things look a bit more complicated for Daniel Farke's side. Depending on Leeds' result against Brentford, there could suddenly be a three-way tussle for not just promotion, but the title.

Norwich dominated proceedings for much of Monday's encounter at Stoke, with Onel Hernandez beating Jack Butland in the 24th minute.

But the hosts fought back through Ashley Williams' header, and though Teemu Pukki restored Norwich's lead, Thomas Edwards drew Stoke level once more to secure a share of the spoils, and delay the Canaries' promotion celebrations.

CONTROVERSIAL PENALTY HELPS DERBY

Derby moved into the final play-off spot thanks to a dramatic 2-0 triumph over QPR, though Frank Lampard's side relied on a contentious penalty to break the deadlock.

With 94 minutes played, referee David Webb harshly deemed that Luke Freeman had fouled Jayden Bogle, and Liverpool loanee Wilson made no mistake with a composed finish.

QPR rallied, with Pawel Wszolek seeing an effort hooked off the line, but the result was settled when Derby raced clear – Wilson tucking in his second in the 101st minute.

Derby's move into the play-off spots comes at the expense of Middlesbrough, who lost 3-0 at Forest, while Barry Bannan's stunner set Sheffield Wednesday up for a 2-0 win over Bristol, who drop to eighth.

VILLA MARCH ON, WIGAN SAFE

Villa seem to be hitting top form at just the right time, as they all but guaranteed a play-off place with a 1-0 win over Millwall – Jonathan Kodjia on target for Dean Smith's side.

Millwall's defeat handed Wigan a boost ahead of their clash with Preston, who had Ryan Ledson sent off as the Latics secured the points with goals from Leon Clarke and Lee Evans.

In the process, Wigan moved onto 48 points, enough to make sure of their Championship status for another season after Rotherham United lost at home to Birmingham City.

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.

Leeds United leapfrogged Sheffield United into second place in the Championship after a 2-0 win away at Preston North End on Tuesday.

Patrick Bamford scored twice as Marcelo Bielsa's side moved two points ahead of the Blades, who are in action against Birmingham City on Wednesday.

West Brom's automatic promotion hopes suffered a potentially fatal blow with a 3-2 defeat to Bristol City, while Middlesbrough boosted their play-off hopes with a win away at struggling Bolton Wanderers.

There were also wins for Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City against Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Stoke City respectively.

BAMFORD PUNISHES 10-MAN NORTH END

Leeds and Sheffield United are locked in a pulsating battle for the Championship's second automatic promotion place and Bielsa's side have cranked up the pressure ahead of the Blades' visit to Birmingham.

Their cause was helped by the dismissal of Ben Pearson, who received a straight red card for hauling down Bamford as he went through on goal shortly after the interval.

The visitors took full advantage of their numerical superiority in the 62nd minute when Bamford powered home from 25 yards.

The former Chelsea striker then added a second 14 minutes from time, heading in Mateusz Klich's right-wing cross to seal a vital three points.

BAGGIES' TOP-TWO HOPES DEALT A BLOW

West Brom are now nine points behind Leeds in fourth after three goals in the opening 19 minutes set Bristol City on their way to a important victory in the play-off battle.

The Robins, who are four points ahead of seventh-place Middlesbrough in fifth, stormed ahead thanks to goals from Josh Brownhill, Andreas Weimann and Jack Hunt.

Dwight Gayle reduced the deficit two minutes into the second half before Jay Rodriguez added a second 16 minutes from time.

They were unable to find a leveller, though, as caretaker boss Jimmy Shan suffered a second defeat in four days.

FLETCHER KEEPS PULIS' MEN IN PLAY-OFF RACE

Middlesbrough ended a torrid run of form to push Bolton Wanderers closer to relegation.

Tony Pulis' side had lost their last six games in the league, but Ashley Fletcher scored twice to move them to within two points of sixth-placed Aston Villa.

Bolton, meanwhile, remain eight points from safety with just five games left to preserve their Championship status for another season.

RAMS WELL BEATEN IN LANCASHIRE

Derby County's hopes of sneaking a play-off place suffered a setback as Blackburn Rovers ran out 2-0 winners at Ewood Park, while Sheffield Wednesday jumped above Nottingham Forest into ninth after a resounding 3-0 win at Hillsborough.

Elsewhere, Swansea City ran out 3-1 winners over Stoke City at the Liberty Stadium.

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.

Seven of the best footballers from last year's schoolboy football season are currently training at Stoke City as a part of the Digicel #ISSARealGoals campaign.

Ricardo Fuller, the Football Programme Ambassador for the 2018 schoolboy football season, has selected seven players to participate in a football camp to be hosted by Stoke City Football Club in England. 

Norwich City hold a four-point lead at the top of the Championship as Sheffield United moved into second place with victory over promotion rivals Leeds United. 

Chris Basham scored the only goal of the game in the early kick-off at Elland Road, the Blades overcoming their Yorkshire rivals to climb above them in the table. 

Norwich capitalised on Leeds' loss with a 2-1 victory away at Rotherham United, who slip into the relegation zone after Reading collected a hard-fought point at Stoke City. 

West Brom won for a second time under caretaker boss James Shan, while Aston Villa thumped play-off rivals Middlesbrough 3-0. Preston North End, meanwhile, are up to seventh thanks to a 1-0 triumph against Birmingham City. 

Nottingham Forest and Hull City were held to draws, by Ipswich Town and QPR respectively, but Sheffield Wednesday maintained their hopes of a top-six spot, winning 4-2 at home to Blackburn Rovers. 

At the other end of the table, Wigan Athletic eased their relegation fears with a resounding 5-2 triumph over Bolton Wanderers, who are getting cut adrift. 

GODFREY WINNER HEAVENLY FOR CANARIES

Ben Godfrey was the hero for Norwich as his 67th-minute header clinched Daniel Farke's side a sixth successive win. 

The Canaries are now five points clear of Leeds, who had goalkeeper Kiko Casilla sent off in the closing stages of their 1-0 loss to Sheffield United, forcing a limping Pontus Jansson to take over between the posts.

West Brom may not have entirely given up on automatic promotion just yet either - Kyle Edwards' superb solo goal was enough for the Baggies to overcome Brentford.

VILLA ON THE CHARGE

Aston Villa continued their resurgence, recording a fourth win on the spin to close within a point of Middlesbrough.

Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn scored in a dominant first-half performance from the hosts at Villa Park, with Albert Adomah adding a third just before full-time.

Tony Pulis' side are looking over their shoulders after a third straight loss, Preston now sitting just a point behind Middlesbrough after Sean Maguire's stoppage-time goal defeated Birmingham.

Wednesday are also making a late charge, Steve Bruce's in-form team extending their league unbeaten run to 11 games with a comfortable victory at Hillsborough.

WIGAN WIN RELEGATION SCUFFLE

Wigan recorded their first league win since February 2 - and in emphatic fashion, too - as they overwhelmed fellow strugglers Bolton, who are now eight points from safety.

Joe Garner scored the only goal of the opening half before Wigan crucially struck twice soon after the break, Gavin Massey making it 2-0 before Nick Powell added a third.

Reading have moved out of the bottom three after the woodwork helped them pick up a point at Stoke, the home side denied by the post as they drew 0-0 for a third successive outing.

Norwich City marked Daniel Farke's new contract with a 3-2 home win against Hull City to move back to the top of the Championship table. 

Farke's new deal to 2022 was confirmed ahead of kick-off and the celebrations continued after Norwich recorded a fifth straight league win. 

There were big wins at the bottom of the league for Millwall and Rotherham United, while play-off chasers Preston North End and Aston Villa both won on the road. 

In their first game after the sacking of head coach Darren Moore, West Brom thumped Swansea City in a game that saw a bizarre penalty miss.

NORWICH BACK ON TOP

Leeds United won at Reading on Tuesday to leapfrog Norwich into top spot but the Canaries flew back above their rivals 24 hours later at Carrow Road. 

Marco Stiepermann opened the scoring in the 11th minute and Emiliano Buendia scored either side of Marc Pugh's reply to seemingly seal a comfortable win. 

Hull striker Chris Martin struck with three minutes to go to give Norwich a scare but, with Leeds and third-placed Sheffield United facing off at Elland Road at the weekend, Farke's leaders look in an increasingly strong position.

MILLWALL OUT OF THE DROP ZONE

With games running out fast, teams at the other end of the table are in desperate need of points and Millwall collected a vital victory to jump up to 19th place. 

Ben Thompson's first-half brace sealed a 2-0 win away to Birmingham City with Neil Harris' side breaking a run of four straight losses ahead of their FA Cup quarter-final date with Brighton and Hove Albion. 

Rotherham also boosted their own survival chances but a dramatic 2-1 win at Queens Park Rangers was not enough to take the Millers out of the final relegation place. 

Semi Ajayi gave Rotherham the lead and, after Bright Samuel hit back for the hosts, he headed the winner in the 95th minute to secure his team's first away success of the season.

BAGGIES BOUNCE BACK

Moore's dismissal after Saturday's draw against bottom side Ipswich Town raised eyebrows but caretaker James Shan oversaw a first home win of the year as West Brom downed Swansea 3-0 to solidify their fourth place. 

Chris Brunt opened the scoring but Swansea missed a golden chance to equalise, Bersant Celina losing his footing as he took a spot-kick to somehow send the penalty behind him. 

Mason Holgate and Jay Rodriguez added second-half strikes for West Brom, who have a comfortable cushion in fourth place.

Middlesbrough stay fifth despite Tony Pulis' men going down 2-1 at home to Preston North End, goals from Paul Gallagher and Jayden Stockley securing a second-half comeback and a sixth straight away league win for Alex Neil's side, with the Scot reportedly a target for West Brom. 

Sixth-placed Derby County were held to a goalless draw at home to Stoke City, allowing Aston Villa's 3-1 comeback win away to Nottingham Forest to move Dean Smith's men within two points of the final play-off spot.

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.

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.

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.

Brazil great Pele paid a moving tribute to England's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks following his death, lauding him as "magic" and revealing his gratitude for being denied by what became known as the "Save of the Century".

Banks' family released a statement through his former club Stoke City on Tuesday, confirming the 81-year-old had "passed away peacefully overnight".

He was capped 73 times by his country and was an ever-present as Alf Ramsey's team claimed World Cup glory on home soil in 1966.

But Banks, widely considered to be among the greatest goalkeepers ever, produced one of the World Cup's most iconic moments four years later, pulling off an astonishing reaction save to keep out a header from Pele in Mexico City.

That save was the catalyst to a long friendship, and Pele penned a touching tribute to Banks on Tuesday.

A post on his official Facebook profile read: "For many people, their memory of Gordon Banks is defined by the save he made against me in 1970. I understand why.

"The save was one of the best I have ever seen - in real life and in all the thousands of games I have watched since.

"When you are a footballer, you know straight away how well you have hit the ball. I hit that header exactly as I had hoped. Exactly where I wanted it to go. And I was ready to celebrate.

"But then this man, Banks, appeared in my sight, like a kind of blue phantom, is how I described him. He came from nowhere and he did something I didn't feel was possible. He pushed my header, somehow, up and over. And I couldn't believe what I saw. Even now when I watch it l, I can't believe it. I can't believe how he moved so far, so fast.

"I scored so many goals in my life, but many people, when they meet me, always ask me about that save. While it was indeed phenomenal, my memory of Gordon is not defined by that - it is defined by his friendship. He was a kind and warm man who gave so much to people.

"So, I am glad he saved my header - because that act was the start of a friendship between us that I will always treasure. Whenever we met, it was always like we had never been apart.

"I have great sadness in my heart and I send condolences to the family he was so proud of.

"Rest in peace, my friend. Yes, you were a goalkeeper with magic. But you were also so much more. You were a fine human being."

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."

Gordon Banks, who has died at the age of 81, was not just one of the few Englishmen to have won a World Cup, he was also one of the few to leave Pele dumbfounded.

Having won the FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year award for six straight years between 1966 and 1971, Banks was a model of consistency, but he was also a shot-stopper who saved his best for the biggest moments.

A League Cup winner with both Leicester City and Stoke City, Banks recorded four clean sheets at the World Cup in 1966 when Alf Ramsey's team won the tournament on home soil, and it was in Mexico four years later when he somehow denied Pele with the 'Save of the Century'.

Despite losing sight in his right eye in a car crash in 1972, Banks returned to the sport in 1977 with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, playing in the North American Soccer League alongside greats such as Pele and George Best.

Here we take a look at Banks' career following the news of his passing.

 

THE EARLY YEARS

A young Banks was left devastated when dropped from his Sheffield schoolboys side as a teenager, and he took up work with a coal merchants and as an apprentice bricklayer in order to earn his keep.

It was Chesterfield who gave a 15-year-old Banks his break by offering him youth terms and by 1958 he was making his first-team debut, in a Third Division fixture against Colchester United.

Sold to Leicester City the following year, Banks' early Wembley memories were not pleasant - he and the Foxes lost the 1961 and 1963 FA Cup finals to Tottenham and Manchester United.

His performances for Leicester did see Banks gain international recognition, however, and he made his England bow in 1963, losing 2-1 to the old enemy Scotland at Wembley.

The first trophy of Banks' career arrived in 1964, as Leicester defeated his future club Stoke City over two legs to lift the League Cup. But the greatest prize of all was soon to follow...

 

WEMBLEY WOE BECOMES WORLD CUP GLORY

England's 1966 World Cup story might have been very different had manager Alf Ramsey taken a dimmer view of Banks and a number of other senior players, including Bobby Moore and Charlton, breaking a curfew ahead of the tournament.

Having escaped serious punishment, the side eased through the group phase, drawing against Uruguay before beating Mexico and France - all without Banks having to pick the ball out of his net.

Another clean sheet followed in the quarter-final win over Argentina - an ill-tempered affair which saw Ramsey describe the visitors as "animals" - before a 2-1 semi-final success over Portugal, which saw Banks' goal finally breached by Eusebio's penalty.

And so to the final against West Germany, where Wolfgang Weber's late equaliser forced extra-time before Geoff Hurst completed his hat-trick, accompanied by the immortal words of commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme.

"As I descended the steps from the royal box, I couldn't believe the journey I had made," Banks said later. "The road from Tinsley Rec to a World Cup final had been long and winding, but the difficulties encountered along the way suddenly evaporated as my whole being was engulfed in euphoria."

 

ANOTHER WEMBLEY TRIUMPH

Amid competition from Peter Shilton, Banks was sold to Stoke in 1967 and five years later lifted his second League Cup, this time in a one-off affair against Chelsea at a Wembley Stadium that was starting to represent the stage for fonder memories.

"I'd played in two FA Cup finals with Leicester and two League Cup finals, but this was my greatest and proudest moment in club football," Banks said. "Not only because we won that final, but because Stoke City had been playing football for over 100 years and had never won anything before.

"To walk out with the team and listen to the roar of our supporters was great. Then to come back home next day and have 100,000 people welcome us was simply fantastic. I don't think the city had ever had that many people out before. I've always appreciated how the club and the fans appreciated me."

 

SAVE OF THE CENTURY

England's World Cup defence in 1970 ended at the quarter-final stage as West Germany gained a measure of revenge.

Banks missed the game through illness and, watching back at the hotel on a feed delayed by almost an hour, did not believe his team-mates when they returned with the score reading 2-0 only to inform him they had gone on to lose 3-2.

A week earlier, Banks had produced the moment that will define his career and perhaps his life. 

In the 1-0 group-stage defeat to Brazil, Banks pulled off what became known as the "Save of the Century", somehow getting low to his right to tip Pele's powerful downward header up and over the crossbar.

"I landed crumpled against the inner side netting of the goal and my first reaction was to look out at Pele. I hadn't a clue where the ball was," Banks said. "He'd grounded to a halt, head clasped between his hands and I knew then all that I needed to know.

"As I got to my feet Pele came up to me and patted me on the back. 'I thought that was a goal,' he said. 'You and me both,' I replied."

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