Hull City promoted in unbelievable Championship finale

Gareth Copley

Hull City won promotion to the Premier League after several twists in one of the most dramatic last days in the Championship ever.

Hull City are promoted to the Premier League after a dramatic draw with Cardiff City combined with Watford's defeat to Leeds United saw them secure second place, after one of the most dramatic season finales in history.

Watford suffered the first of many setbacks as goalkeeper Manuel Almunia was injured during the warm-up, leading to his replacement by Jonathan Bond, and they endured another shortly into the game as they had a clear penalty shout turned down as Michael Brown brought down Jonathan Hogg in the area.

The first goals, however, came at the crucial game between Leicester and Nottingham Forest, who were battling for a playoff place if Bolton and Crystal Palace dropped points - Simon Cox put forest up within three minutes, before Matty James levelled for the Foxes. The two teams then got a huge boost as Bolton incredibly fell 2-0 behind to Blackpool and Crystal Palace were shocked by a Peterborough goal.

Watford then suffered another disaster - second-choice keeper Bond was cleaned out in a collision which resulted in a serious neck injury. That resulted in a huge stoppage at Vicarage Road, and the youngster and third-choice goalkeeper Jack Bonham replacing him. It was to be a tough start for the youngster as he was immediately involved in a mix-up with his defence, allowing Dominic Poleon to get on the end of a long ball and slot into an empty net, prompting huge celebrations in Hull.

At the bottom of the table, Barnsley were earning their safety by being 1-0 up at Huddersfield, while Wolves were going down with a whimper after falling 2-0 behind to Brighton. Just then, however, Bolton and Crystal Palace mounted their comebacks, the Eagles equalising against Peterborough and Bolton incredibly scoring two stoppage-time goals to level the score against Blackpool.

Watford's game was still carrying on due to stoppages well after the other games had reached half-time, and the Hornets soon had hope as Almen Abdi scored a scorcher from the edge of the area, smashing it into the top corner to equalise and put the dream back on for the home side.

As half-time dawned at Watford, the rest of the games resumed play, and things soon got even better for the Hornets as Fraizer Campbell put Cardiff up at the KC Stadium, a result that put Hull into the playoff places and would, as it stood, send Watford into the Premier League.

The good news didn't last long for Watford - Hull mounted a comeback, and after Nick Proschwitz equalised, the ancient Paul McShane put the Tigers into the lead, a result that would've kept Watford in the playoff places regardless of whether they could find a winner against Leeds. And it soon got even worse as Watford striker Troy Deeney was sent off for a late challenge on Michael Brown.

Elsewhere, Barnsley once again took the lead at Huddersfield to keep themselves safe, while Peterborough again put themselves ahead against Crystal Palace, leaving the playoffs very much open for Leicester and Nottingham Forest, who were locked at 2-2.

Peterborough and Barnsley then suffered setbacks as Crystal Palace and Huddersfield respectively scored equalisers within two minutes of each other, but Connor Sammon then scored a late goal to put Derby ahead against Millwall with just five minutes remaining, casting them into the relegation battle to complicate things even further.

There was plenty of late drama to come - Leicester scored a last-minute goal through Anthony Knockaert to claim a playoff place, while Crystal Palace also scored a late winner to condemn Peterborough. Cardiff were also reduced to ten men following Andrew Taylor's red card, allowing Hull to secure their victory. There was further madness to follow at the KC Stadium as Cardiff conceded a penalty, which was delayed due to the home fans invading the pitch after believing the whistle to be for full-time.

Amazingly, Hull City did what may now be known as 'a Doncaster' - the penalty was missed, and within seconds Cardiff had gone up the other end, Abdoulaye Faye handling in the box to concede a penalty at the other end. Cardiff duly made it 2-2, and now Watford had a chance to earn promotion if they could find a winner with ten men.

With Watford's game still carrying on long after the other games drew to a close, it resulted in a nervy finale for them and Hull, as the Hornets, despite their disadvantage, laid siege to the Leeds goal. Fernando Forestieri and Almen Abdi both came close, but Paddy Kenny was in inspired form to produce a series of great saves to keep the desperate Hornets out. Yet a cleared long throw-in resulted in a Leeds breakaway, and with time running out, Ross McCormack attempted a chip, with the young Watford keeper being caught out, tipping the ball into his own net to break Watford's hearts and seal an unbelievable day of football.

Final Championship results:

Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Blackpool (Bolton miss out on play-offs)

Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves relegated)

Crystal Palace 3-2 Peterborough United (Crystal Palace make play-offs, Peterborough relegated)

Huddersfield 2-2 Barnsley (both sides safe)

Hull City 2-2 Cardiff City (Hull promoted)

Nottingham Forest 2-3 Leicester City (Leicester make playoffs)

Watford 1-2 Leeds United (Watford miss out on automatic promotion)

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