London: Norwich City secured promotion to the English Premier League after a three-year absence with a 2-1 win at home to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Victory left Championship leaders Norwich nine points clear of third-placed Leeds, who have just six left to play for in their final two regular-season games and only the top two assured of a place in English football’s lucrative top-flight.
The Canaries kicked-off at Carrow Road knowing just a point would be enough to secure promotion.
Norwich went ahead in the 13th minute through Marco Stiepermann thanks to the German midfielder’s low shot from 20 yards.
The East Anglian club moved closer to a place among the elite through an even more spectacular goal, Mario Vranic’s strike from 25 yards flying into the top corner in the 21st minute.
But two minutes later Blackburn threatened to spoil the party thanks to Lewis Travis’s goal.
That, however, was as good as it got for the visitors with Norwich seeing out the game to return to the Premier League for the first time since they were relegated in 2016.
Norwich defender Jamal Lewis hailed manager Daniel Farke’s role in the Canaries’ rise, telling Sky Sports: “He puts his faith in us. Our team is so young but so hungry, and we’re ready for the ‘Prem’. It’s been an amazing season. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
Although Norwich are assured of promotion, the Championship title is still up for grabs and top-scorer Teemu Pukki, speaking ahead of the team’s final league match of the campaign away to Aston Villa next weekend, said: “It (promotion) means a lot, we have been the best team this season. Of course we want to finish the season with a victory.
“We’ll now celebrate for a few days and then focus on the next game,” he added.
Earlier, second-placed Sheffield United all but assured themselves of promotion with a 2-0 win over basement club Ipswich — Norwich’s local rivals.
The Blades took the lead after 24 minutes through Scott Hogan and they doubled their lead against already-relegated Ipswich after 70 minutes via Jack O’Connell’s header from a corner.
Sheffield United are now six points clear of Yorkshire rivals Leeds, who play Villa on Sunday.
With the Blades boasting a far superior goal difference to Leeds, only a freak combination of results can now deny them automatic promotion. Leeds now appear destined for the post-season play-offs, with the teams finishing third to sixth battling it out for the final promotion place.