Goals from Jerome and Redmond secured promotion
Norwich City gained promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt, following a 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough at Wembley Stadium on Monday.
In a fixture billed as the £120million game, first-half goals from Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond confirmed victory in the Championship play-off final for the Norfolk club, who return to the top-flight after a year hiatus.
And for Alex Neil, who guided Norwich to 16 wins in 24 games, it completes a memorable first few months in the Carrow Road hot seat.
Team news wise, and Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka was able to welcome top-scorer Patrick Bamford back into the starting eleven, who replaced Kike, in the only change for the Teesside outfit.
Meanwhile, Norwich remained unchanged for the Wembley showpiece, following their play-off semi-final success over Ipswich Town.
In a fast paced start from both sides, it would be Norwich who created the first opening of the game after eight minutes, as Bradley Johnson thundered his shot onto the crossbar, after Redmond’s cross had been diverted into his path.
Up the other end, Boro were next to test the woodwork, Belgian forward Jelle Vossen profiting from a loose ball to rifle a volley, which crashed off John Ruddy’s crossbar.
However, Alex Neil’s Canaries side would soon be celebrating under the Wembley arch, after twelve minutes. Cameron Jerome robbed Daniel Ayala of the ball, before running clear and slotting under Dimi Konstantopoulos from a tight angle.
It would be two for Norwich just three minutes later, courtesy of Nathan Redmond, who collected Whittaker’s pass from the right, and fired home right-footed from just inside the area.
Middlesbrough were being reduced to half-chances, however Vossen was unable to direct his header towards goal, after George Friend’s pin-point cross.
As the second-half resumed, Middlesbrough looked to get back into the game, with Daniel Ayala failing to keep his glancing header on target, from Grant Leadbitter’s out-swinging corner.
Despite enjoying a better start to the half, Middlesbrough were unable to find a way through a resilient Norwich back line.
On the hour-mark, Patrick Bamford was played in by Lee Tomlin, but after turning his man, the Chelsea-loanee could only force Ruddy into a low routine stop.
City skipper Russell Martin had the chance to make it three as the game entered the closing stages, with the defender rising to meet Redmond’s corner, but he couldn’t keep his header down.
The impressive Redmond flashed his long-range free-kick over the bar with ten minutes to play, as the East Anglian side looked to further enhance their lead.
Middlesbrough huffed and puffed in the dying embers of proceedings, though it was to no avail. Norwich won promotion back to the big time.
by Ben Reardon