Swansea are Premier League bound after a 4-2 victory over Reading in the nPower Championship playoff final, becoming the first Welsh team to reach the top flight of English football*. It was a game that's probably best described as 'absurd', with Swansea earning a 3-0 first half lead despite playing rather poorly (Reading didn't deserve to go into the break down by one, let alone three) before proceeding to very nearly throw said lead away and letting their opponents right back into the game. A late Scott Sinclair penalty seals the win, but it was by no means as emphatic as the scoreline suggests.
*It's a historical thing. Most Welsh sides are not eligible.
Reading started out the first half by trying to force the Swansea back line into mistakes, and they did so extremely effectively and could have scored mutliple goals in the opening twenty minutes, most notably from an early goalmouth scramble following a mistake by Swansea goalkeeper Dorus de Vries and then from a Garry Monk handball that really ought to have resulted in a penalty. Referee Phil Dowd waved off the protests by Reading and added injury to insult when he then immediately gave Swansea a penalty (correctly) for a foul on Nathan Dyer by Zurab Khizanishvili, who really ought to have been shown a second yellow card and dismissed.
Scott Sinclair stroked the ball confidently past Adam Federici for the opening goal, and he added another within a minute as Swansea seized possession straight from the restart and marched down the Reading left, a low cross by Stephen Dobbie ending up right under Sinclair's feet at the far post with Federici stranded. He couldn't miss, and didn't, and suddenly Swansea were up rather implausibly by two goals.
They'd add to that total before the first half was up, Dobbie turning goalscorer when a Nathan Dyer cross was deflected into his path in miles of space in the centre of the box. It was probably a mistake for him to have hit it first time, since he really did have all the time in the world, but he got his shot perfect and left Federici with absolutely no chance.
Reading could have cut the deficit before the interval, but Noel Hunt contrived to waste a brilliant chance, shooting into the side netting when it looked easier to score and then de Vries pulled off one of his few competent saves of the afternoon to deny midfielder Mikele Leigertwood when he attempted a long-range thunderbolt. At 3-0, it looked like the game was over before the second half had even begun.
It wasn't. the Royals came flying out of the box after the break, and unlike the first half they were actually rewarded for their efforts. Hunt made up for his earlier miss by glancing homer a near-post header from a very nice Jobi McAnuf corner, and then some combination of Matt Mills and Joe Allen forced the ball home from another a few moments later to cut Swansea's lead to just one - just after Dobbie had missed an easy chance to make it 4-1.
Reading were dominant, and were extraordinarily close to an equaliser shortly after the Mills goal, with Jem Karacan cracking a long-range effort off de Vries' left-hand post via a deflection from Ashley Williams. The ball rebounded straight to Hunt, and with the goalkeeper completely out of the way he must have thought that he'd scored, only for Monk to make an absolutely remarkable sliding tackle to deny him.
The game entered a little bit of a lull after that as Swansea attempted to stifle the threat of a ludicrous collapse by keeping Reading away from the ball, but the Royals were still threatening to level the game and take things to extra time. All their good work, however, was undone by a moment of madness from Andy Griffin, who for some reason opted to bring down Fabio Borini as the Italian forward was bringing the ball away from the goal in the Reading area. Dowd blew his whistle and pointed to the Scott, and Scott Sinclair secured Swansea's win with his hattrick, blasting the ball past Federici to ensure that Swansea would indeed reach the top flight for the first time in almost thirty years.
And based on today's game, we have a fairly worthy replacement for Blackpool already.