The 5 Best Championship Play-Off Finals


They call it ‘the richest match in football’ and quite often it is rich in entertainment too.

We here at Unibet are so excited by the Championship Play-Off final at Wembley on Saturday that we’ve decided to go top price on BOTH Derby County and Queens Park Rangers winning the match and promotion to the Premier League.

To get us even further in the mood for the big showdown – a match which will be worth millions of pounds to the winning club – we’ve taken a look at five of the best clashes from down the years:

 

5. Ipswich Town 4 Barnsley 2, 2000

An end-to-end match – the last play-off final at the old Wembley – eventually went the way of Ipswich Town despite their goalkeeper Richard Wright scoring an early own goal.

Tony Mowbray, Richard Naylor, Marcus Stewart and substitute Martijn Reuser grabbed the goals for the Tractor Boys, who went on to finish fifth in the Premier League the following season.

 

4. Blackpool 3 Cardiff City 2, 2010

All the action happened in the first half of this thriller at Wembley, where Michael Chopra’s early strike was almost immediately cancelled out by a stunning free-kick from Charlie Adam.

Joe Ledley and Gary Taylor-Fletcher swapped further goals, before Blackpool legend Brett Ormerod poked home the winner in stoppage time at the end of the first period, ensuring that the Tangerines returned to the top-flight for the first time in 39 years.

 

3. Reading 2 Swansea City 4, 2011

The then Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers had been sacked by Reading 18 months previously, but he got his revenge in this remarkable final in 2011.

The Swans went 3-0 up against the Royals courtesy of two goals in a minute from Scott Sinclair (the first a penalty) and one from Stephen Dobbie, before Reading roared back in the second period through a Joe Allen own goal and Matt Mills’ header.

Sinclair scored his second penalty of the match 10 minutes from time though, securing his hat-trick and Swansea’s promotion.

 

2. Bolton Wanderers 4 Reading 3, 1995

That loss came 16 years after Reading had suffered defeat in another high scoring play-off final, despite going 2-0 up inside 12 minutes through Lee Nogan and Adrian Williams, with Bolton goalkeeper Keith Branagan saving a Stuart Lovell penalty which would have made it 3-0 soon after.

Goals in the final 15 minutes from Bolton’s Owen Coyle and Fabian de Freitas took the match to extra-time though, and Mixu Paatelainen and De Freitas again found the net to ensure Reading’s late reply through Jimmy Quinn was in vain.

  

1. Charlton Athletic 4 Sunderland 4 (Charlton won 7-6 on penalties), 1998

The most remarkable play-off final came in 1998 though, as Charlton and Sunderland played out a Wembley classic.

Charlton’s Clive Mendonca scored twice in normal time, only for the Sunderland pair of Niall Quinn (two goals) and Kevin Phillips (one) to look as though they were going to steal the show for the Mackems, until Charlton’s Richard Rufus headed an equaliser with five minutes remaining.

Extra-time strikes from Nicky Summerbee and Mendonca as he completed his hat-trick took the scoreline to 4-4, and after the first 13 penalties were all scored in the shootout, Charlton goalkeeper Sasa Ilic saved from Michael Gray to take his side up.

 

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