Huddersfield promoted to Premier League after Play-Off penalty drama
Huddersfield Town, who started the season as 12th favourites for promotion and who haven't played in the top division for 45 years, beat Reading 4-3 on penalties to earn a spot in the Premier League, completing an incredible journey in the process. The job done by David Wagner, their manager, is nothing short of spectacular.
The game itself was a miserable affair, though both teams started with decent intent, looking to get forward and cause problems for the opposition. And it was Huddersfield who created the chances, Michael Hefele missing with a header and Izzy Brown somehow sliding wide at the back post with no-one near him and only four yards to goal.
Pretty much, that was as good as it got; the second half was as poor as could be, neither side seriously threatening to score, and extra-time was similar. So it came down to a penalty competition, in which Reading took the first advantage when Ali Al-Habsi saved Hefele's tame effort.
But then Liam Moore mashed his shot over the bar, Aaron Mooy levelled matters, and Danny Ward saved from Jordan Obita; if Chris Schindler could score, Huddersfield were home. He did, just, and the celebrations in honour of a famous, remarkable achievement began.
How to survive in the Premier League? Huddersfield play a fast, energetic game, precisely suited to the Championship. But whether they can do similar in the top division is less clear - the quality of the teams they'll find might well shut them down physically and technically. David Wagner will need to adapt his methods to give his team the best chance.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield) The truth is that no-one really deserved to be singled out for their quality, but Mooy looked the man most likely to do something worth remembering and took his crucial penalty with calm authority.
5’ - ...and Mooy's delivery is excellent! In the middle, Hefele loses Van den Berg, but he can only get a flick when it needed a forehead, and the ball flies wide.
9’ - Reading can hardly get a kick at the moment - Huddersfield are just playing too quickly for them. And here's some evidence, Kachunga and Smith combining down the right to allow the former to cross low ... and Brown arrives with perfect timing at the far post! Except, somehow, he slides wide from four yards! Oh dear, dear me!
48’ - First flash of Reading! They swarm forward and Evans lashes a shot goalwards from 25 yards that Ward have to dive for, clawing away and clear of danger.
126’ - ...Huddersfield break with Quaner and Palmer, the latter crossing low to find Wells in the box! This is his chance! But he can't get his body round it, he can't find the power in his leg, and he drags a tame effort wide. Of course he does.
GOAL! HUDDERSFIELD WIN THE SHOOT-OUT 4-3 AND ARE PROTOMOTED TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE! WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT! Schindler's kick was not a good one, to Al-Habsi's right, but it found its way in, and here we are!
Huddersfield have won all five of their play-off penalty shoot-outs. No other team has one more than one.
Huddersfield are the first team to be promoted having conceded more goals than they scored.