26 Apr 2015

Watford seal Premier League promotion

9:08 am on 26 April 2015

Watford sealed a lucrative return to English football's Premier League after they won 2-0 at Brighton & Hove Albion and other results went their way on a day of dramatic twists and turns in the second-tier Championship.

Watford's Troy Deeney celebrates with the club mascot after scoring.

Watford's Troy Deeney celebrates with the club mascot after scoring. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

With Middlesbrough losing 4-3 at Fulham and Norwich City drawing 1-1 at Rotherham, Watford are guaranteed promotion and a potential cash boost of more than 240 million pounds dollars.

Troy Deeney's neat finish after 28 minutes, his 21st league goal of the season, and a stoppage-time strike by Matej Vydra secured the win for the Italian-owned club, who were last in English soccer's top flight in 2006-07.

With second-placed Bournemouth not playing Bolton Wanderers until Tuesday the pressure was on Middlesborough and Norwich City to close Watford's four-point lead at the top.

Goals from Michael Turner and a penalty from Ross McCormack gave Fulham a 2-0 lead at Craven Cottage but Adam Reach pulled a goal back for Boro in the 65th minute.

The visitors' cause was not helped when McCormack converted his second penalty after George Friend was sent off but they staged an unlikely comeback thanks to goals from Daniel Ayala and Kike.

However, the hard work was undone when McCormack completed his hat-trick in injury time to leave Aitor Karanka's Middlesbrough third with 84 points from 45 games.

Fourth-placed Norwich needed three points against lowly Rotherham to deny Watford promotion and Gary Hooper's second half goal sent them on their way after Lewis Grabban's dismissal in the opening period.

But Jordan Bowery struck a crucial equaliser for Rotherham, who were deducted three points yesterday for fielding an ineligible player earlier in the season.

Rotherham remain 21st after Millwall drew 3-3 against sixth-placed Derby County.

With only the top two gaining automatic promotion, the race for the playoff places is also hotting up.

Ipswich Town are fifth after a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest, while Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers (75) are two points outside the playoff places after 2-0 and 1-0 wins over Reading and Wigan Athletic respectively.

Wigan's home defeat to Wolves meant they are relegated to League One and have now suffered two relegations in the last three seasons after dropping out of the Premier League in 2013.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.