It’s called “the richest game in football” for a very good reason. The winner of the Championship Playoff Final at Wembley Stadium earns the right to play in the Premier League next season and the bounty of riches that go along with it.
On Monday, Huddersfield Town and Reading contested the playoff after defeating Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham respectively. Those teams finished 3-6 on the Championship ladder to contest the playoff for the 20th Premier League spot for the 2017-2018 season while Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion qualified automatically by finishing in the top two of the Championship.
The playoff final between Huddersfield and Reading was as tense and tight as you would expect with so much on the line. After the full 90 minutes, the score was tied 0-0 with the biggest moment of normal time being this incredible miss by Huddersfield’s Izzy Brown from just a couple yards out.
— Scott Watson 🚾 (@watsonSofficial) May 29, 2017
As extra time ticked on, the game continued without the long-anticipated breakthrough. In fact, there were just 3 attempts on goal that actually found the target all game.
Finally, the contest went to where it seemed destined to go to all game long – penalties. Reading gained the early advantage when Ali Al-Habsi saved a poor effort from Michael Hefele. However, momentum turned in the third round when Liam Moore skied his PK over the crossbar. Aaron Mooy then scored for Huddersfield to equalize the shootout at 3-3.
Then in the final round, Huddersfield keeper Danny Ward (on loan from Liverpool) saved the effort of Jordan Obita. Christopher Schindler stepped up for the decisive strike that sent the Terriers to the Premier League. They won both the final and semifinal against Sheffield Wednesday on penalties.
Huddersfield Town goes to the Premier League for the very first time in their history. The last time the club played in England’s top flight was the 1971-1972 season. The club’s glory days were from 1924-1926 they won three successive First Division titles.
Of note to American soccer fans is that former USMNT international David Wagner will take Huddersfield to the Premier League as manager. Wagner played 8 times for the national team in his career while playing his club career in Germany. He will become the second American to manage in the Premier League, here’s hoping he lasts longer than the 11 games Bradley was in charge of Swansea City.