English Premiership

Norwich v Middlesbrough for EPL spot

2015-05-16 15:37
Norwich (Getty Images)

London - Norwich will face Middlesbrough for a place in the Premier League after reaching the Championship playoff final with a 3-1 win over bitter rivals Ipswich on Saturday.

Alex Neil's side took the bragging rights in the most important East Anglian derby for decades thanks to goals from Wes Hoolahan, Nathan Redmond and Cameron Jerome as Ipswich paid the price for Christophe Berra's dismissal for deliberate handball.

Hoolahan gave Norwich the lead in the semi-final second leg with the second half penalty that followed Berra's red card and, although Tommy Smith equalised for 10-man Ipswich, the hosts hit back through Redmond and Jerome to secure a victory that will long be remembered at Carrow Road.

Norwich's 4-2 aggregate success sets up a Wembley showdown with Middlesbrough on May 25 as they attempt to return to the English top-flight just 12 months after being relegated.

The 99th East Anglian derby got off to a slow start before Norwich gradually took control, with Russell Martin's low drive cleared off the line by Paul Anderson, who had scored Ipswich's equaliser in the first leg last weekend.

After a tense first half, the turning point arrived in the 49th minute when Hoolahan played in Redmond and the winger cut back inside before shooting towards the bottom corner.

Berra was on the line to deflect the ball past the post with his hand and referee Roger East immediately pointed to the spot, before reaching for the red card.

Hoolahan added to Ipswich's punishment as he sent Bartosz Bialkowski the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Mick McCarthy's men snatched an equaliser on the hour when a free-kick was nodded down by Daryl Murphy and New Zealand defender Smith got to the loose ball ahead of Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy to poke it into the net from close-range.

But Norwich restored their lead within four minutes. Martin Olsson's angled drive was blocked by Bialkowski, Jonny Howson touched the loose ball out to Redmond and he drilled a low shot under the Ipswich goalkeeper.

Former Stoke striker Jerome got the Norwich celebrations in full swing when he slotted under Bialkowski after a defence-splitting pass from Redmond in the 76th minute.


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