Huddersfield land premier league after 45-year wait
Huddersfield Town have defeated Reading on penalties after a goalless Championship playoff final to end their 45-year wait for a return to the top tier of English football.
For the first time in second-tier history, the 90 minutes ended goalless and penalties were required to separate the two sides following a cagey affair.
The Terriers, who squandered the two major chances of the match early on, held their nerve to win the shootout 4-3 and earn promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history.
Reading are left to rue what could have been, meanwhile, falling short in the playoffs for a joint-record fifth time after what was a nervy performance over the 120 minutes from both sides.
Huddersfield created their two killer chances of a tight match in the opening 15 minutes, neither of which they could make the most of.
Aaron Mooy floated a free kick into a good position for Michael Hefele to attack, but he somehow nodded wide from close range after getting the beating of Joey van den Berg.
There was an even better opening to come the Terriers’ way moments later, as Elias Kachunga flashed the ball across goal where Izzy Brown was waiting for what looked like a simple tap-in.
The Chelsea loanee remained onside but did not see the ball until late, perhaps explaining how he placed the ball wide of goal from just a couple of yards out – one of the great playoff misses.
A lively start to the match did not offer a true reflection of what was to follow, with the teams – separated by just four points at the end of the regular season – cancelling each other out all over the field.
The only other sight of goal for either side in the first half arrived midway through when Lewis Grabban, on the winning side with Norwich City here two years ago, curled wide from range after working some space.
Chris Lowe and John Swift fired in the first on-target attempts of the afternoon in quick succession early in the second half, the latter of which forced a good stop out of semi-final hero Danny Ward.
It was proving to be a playoff final devoid of any major chances, bar the two created by Town early on, with substitute Collin Quaner slotting wide 12 minutes from time when Nakhi Wells was better positioned behind him.
Chris Gunter got in behind for the first time late on in normal time following a George Evans ball, but his teasing cross was well dealt with by Hefele in front of goal.
Huddersfield won 22 of their 25 regular-season fixtures by a one-goal margin and still held out hope of snatching the match at the death in front of the 76,682 spectators at Wembley Stadium.
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