Cyprus Mail

Early goals seal Norwich’s win in playoff final

Norwich City v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Football League Championship Play-Off Final

By Ken Ferris

Norwich City were promoted to the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the Championship playoff final at Wembley on Monday to secure a 120 million pounds ($185.90 million) bonanza from the richest game in world soccer.

Cameron Jerome put Norwich ahead in the 12th minute before Nathan Redmond stunned Boro with a second three minutes later to see the Canaries back in the top flight after one season in the second tier.

The Canaries, who finished the regular season in third place behind Bournemouth and Watford, beat local rivals Ipswich Town 4-2 on aggregate in their playoff semi-final to reach the Wembley final.

They can now look forward to receiving at least 120 million pounds in revenue from prize money, TV rights and sponsorship.

Norwich skipper Russell Martin told Sky Sports: “It’s emotional after last year, which was so hard to take. Middlesborugh did brilliantly this season but we put in probably our best performance of the season.”

Norwich almost opened the scoring after nine minutes when Bradley Johnson’s sweet left-foot shot from 20 metres hit the bar after Jerome completely missed the ball with his head.

Middlesbrough immediately broke down the other end and Jelle Vossen struck the angle of bar and post with a fine effort with the outside of his right foot from 25 metres.

But it was Norwich who took the lead when Jerome tucked the ball past goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos from close range after taking the ball off Spaniard Daniel Ayala on the left.

Boro, who were late arriving at Wembley after their coach got stuck in heavy traffic, looked half asleep as Jerome was allowed to make his way unchallenged towards the near post.

Midfielder Redmond added Norwich’s second with a low right-foot strike into the far corner after controlling a cross from Steven Whittaker with his left following a fine flowing build-up.

Middlesbrough looked more dangerous after the break and began to pose some problems for Norwich with Patrick Bamford, on loan from Chelsea, at last testing goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Norwich should have scored again when Martin headed over from a corner and although Boro applied some pressure late on they never looked like salvaging anything from the match.

The win was a triumph for the Canaries’ 33-year-old manager Alex Neil, who joined the club in January from Hamilton having led the Scottish side into the top flight last year via a playoff success.

Norwich’s victory was also cheered by TV chef Delia Smith, the club’s joint majority shareholder with husband Michael Wynn Jones, who was celebrating with the Canaries fans at the end.

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