The Sky Bet Championship Playoff Final is one of the biggest matches worldwide. Four teams placed third through sixth in the league standings face off in a two-legged playoff match as the two winners face off in a final at Wembley Stadium. The winner gains promotion to the Barclays Premier League, and also wins an estimated 170 million euros, according to SkySports.
The finalists for this year’s playoff final were fourth-placed Hull City and sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday.
Sheffield Wednesday defeated third-placed Brighton & Hove Albion to earn their spot in the final, while Hull City sneaked by fifth-placed Derby County. Hull’s last appearance in the Premier League was 2014-15, however they were relegated quickly back to the Championship. Wednesday have not been in the Premier League since the 1999-2000 season.
Throughout the first half of Saturday’s action, Hull dominated chances while Wednesday tried to stay in the game. Hull’s Mo Diame had his left-footed chance go off the left post, while Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri and Ross Wallace had their free-kicks saved. Abel Hernandez‘s header was saved off of the goal-line by Wednesday’s Kieran Lee.
In the second half, Hull continued to rally for the opening goal as defender Michael Dawson had his half-volley saved by Wednesday keeper Keiren Westwood.
However in the 72nd minute, Hull got their goal after Mo Diame struck a right-footed shot into the top right half of the net that was too strong for Westwood to keep out. It was a brilliant strike after he was given a lay-off assist by Robert Snodgrass.
Wednesday had a handball shout turned down in the final minutes after Jeremy Halan‘s shot look to have deflected off of Dawson’s hand. However, at the final whistle Hull City had a spot in the Barclays Premier League next season.
Sheffield Wednesday led in the possession category 53% to 47%, while Kieren Westwood made four saves that kept his side in the match. Hull keeper Eldin Jakupovic made three saves which preserved the clean sheet.
According to BBC Sport, Hull City manager Steve Bruce praised his midfielder’s wonder goal in his post-match interview. “The goal was a wonder goal that would have graced any cup final. Up until then, I thought we’d missed some glorious chances but Mo has produced that little bit of magic.”
Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal felt his team didn’t create too many problems for Hull’s defense. “We have an experienced team but we didn’t play the way we usually do and we didn’t create too many problems defensively for Hull.”
In all ten games that Diame has scored for Hull this season, they have ended up winning all ten. Thanks to his moment of magic at Wembley, the Tigers will be back in the big show come August.
Hull will now join Burnley and Middlesbrough in as the three promoted clubs into the Barclays Premier League for the 2016-17 season.