Norwich City have wasted no time in making the return to England’s top flight as they comfortably beat Middlesbrough 2-0 at Wembley thanks to first half goals from Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond and will join Bournemouth and Watford in the Premier League next season.
The Championship Play-off final is often dubbed as the richest match in football because of the sheer difference in fortunes between the winners and the losers. The value of victory is estimated at around £120m. In this high stakes game, in front of over 85,000 fans, it was 33-year old manager Alex Neil’s Norwich side who emerged victorious.
The young and unknown manager has been making heads turn ever since replacing Neil Adams at Carrow Road in January. The Canaries were 7th in the table back then and 3 points off the play-off spots. The Scotsman has overseen a brilliant turnaround of fortunes for Norwich, winning 17 of his 25 games in charge since, and losing just 3. He is now set to be the youngest manager in the Premier League.
Despite having beaten Norwich both home and away in the league, Middlesbrough simply couldn’t find their way through the Norwich defence. It’s a disappointing end to a highly promising season for the North East club, who boasted a fantastic defensive record in the league, conceding just 37 goals in their 46 games. Spanish Manager Aitor Karanka, who used to José Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid, will be disappointed with his team’s performance but can be proud of the wonderful season they’ve had.
It was just 15 minutes on the clock, when Boro found themselves with a mountain to climb. Two goals in quick succession put Norwich in a comfortable position early on. Both teams had just hit the woodwork before that, Johnson for Norwich and Vossen for Boro. But, Cameron Jerome capitalised on a silly error from defender Ayala and went on to slot the ball in the left corner. Few minutes later, Nathan Redmond received the ball on the right side of the penalty box and he fired a brilliant shot into the bottom left corner. Boro looked down and out and never really got back into the game.
A well-deserved victory in the end. Norwich City, welcome back to the Premier League!