Norwich reignite Championship play-off hopes as Sheffield United move a step closer to promotion

Burnley can clinch promotion to the Premier League with a win on Friday night

Sport Staff
Friday 07 April 2023 18:03 BST
(Getty Images)

A first-half goal from Iliman Ndiaye gave Sheffield United a crucial 1-0 win against Wigan in the Championship.

The victory moved the Blades eight points clear of third-placed Luton and nine ahead of Middlesbrough, who travel to leaders Burnley in Good Friday’s late game. Ndiaye’s eighth-minute strike settled a game full of goalmouth action at Bramall Lane which ended with Wigan still rooted to the bottom of the Championship table with just six games remaining to rescue their season.

Luton held Millwall to a frustrating 0-0 draw at The Den to preserve a six-point gap between the sides and consolidate their Championship play-off hopes. In the battle of direct styles it was a game of few chances, the best of which fell to Millwall’s Andreas Voglsammer in the second half but he failed to get a shot away from close range.

Luton grew into the contest but mustered just two shots on the target, both of which came late in the second period and were well dealt with by George Long. The Lions have now failed to win in each of their last three games and will be looking nervously over their shoulder as the run in hots up, while Luton look a shoe-in for the top six.

Norwich reignited their play-off hopes with a convincing 2-0 win at top-six rivals Blackburn. David Wagner’s men came into the game winless in four but produced a performance against the team immediately above them.

They were set on their way in the 11th minute through a superb team move that ended with Liam Gibbs’ first goal for the club. Max Aarons also hit the woodwork but the half ended on a worrying note for Norwich, as Grant Hanley was carried off the field injured.

However, the Canaries rallied and Gabriel Sara doubled the advantage 10 minutes after the restart, hammering home his seventh of the campaign to make sure of the points. Norwich now lie a point behind Blackburn, who will be disappointed at their inability to test their opponents’ goal, aside from a frantic few minutes at the end that saw Angus Gunn save from Ben Brereton Diaz and James McCallum head off the line. Instead, Rovers’ first defeat at home in 2023 leaves them looking nervously over their shoulders.

Tom Cannon scored both goals as Preston won 2-0 at QPR to continue the west London side’s horrific slump towards the relegation zone.

The on-loan Everton youngster netted twice in the space of four second-half minutes to boost North End’s play-off push and pile more misery on Rangers. QPR, who were top of the table in October, have now lost nine of their past 10 matches and all but one of their seven since Gareth Ainsworth took over as boss.

Their latest loss, and Huddersfield’s win at Watford, means Ainsworth’s team are now one place above the relegation zone - and only outside it by virtue of Reading’s recent six-point deduction. Not even the return of key players such as Chris Willock and Ilias Chair has halted a slide which looks increasingly like sending QPR into the third tier - 30 years after they finished fifth in the inaugural Premier League.

Elsewhere, Jordan Hugill scored twice as Rotherham beat West Brom 3-1 to boost their survival hopes. Fellow relegation battlers Reading picked up a third draw in succession, 1-1 against Birmingham, while Cardiff eased their fears by thumping Blackpool 3-1 to leave the Tangerines seven points from safety in 23rd.

The biggest winners at the bottom end though were Huddersfield, who fought back from a goal down to win 3-2 away to Watford. The hosts ended with ten men but the Terriers’ third straight win lifts them to 20th, a point and two places above the drop zone.

Swansea and Coventry fought out a goalless draw and Bristol City won 2-1 at Stoke in the pair of mid-table matches.

Championship results:

Millwall 0-0 Luton

Rotherham 3-1 West Brom

Reading 1-1 Birmingham

QPR 0-2 Preston

Blackburn 0-2 Norwich

Blackpool 1-3 Cardiff

Swansea 0-0 Coventry

Watford 2-3 Huddersfield

Stoke 1-2 Bristol City

Sheffield United 1-0 Wigan

Sunderland vs Hull - 5:30pm KO

Middlesbrough vs Burnley - 8pm KO

Additional reporting by PA

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