Brighton & Hove Albion 1
LONDON • After a seven-year spell in the second-tier League Championship, Middlesbrough will be playing Premier League football next season after they secured a 1-1 yesterday with Brighton & Hove Albion.
Striker Cristhian Stuani's goal after 19 minutes set Boro on their way to a decisive point, as he converted easily from close range after a cross from Gaston Ramirez.
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The game took two further dramatic turns in the space of two early second-half minutes, as Dale Stephens equalised for Brighton in the 55th minute before receiving a straight red card from Mike Dean after a reckless challenge on Ramirez two minutes later.
With an extra man, Boro saw out the game to finish second in the Championship - and thus securing automatic promotion - on goal difference, as both sides finished level on 89 points.
Thousands of Boro fans invaded the Riverside Stadium field to celebrate upon the final whistle.
Next season's gargantuan Premier League television deal means promoted teams stand to benefit by a minimum of £170m (S$334 million). Even the bottom club will receive just under £100m in broadcast and merit money followed by about £75m in parachute payments.
Boro coach Aitor Karanka said: "I can't be more proud of this group of players, this crowd, the chairman. When I arrived here some people said I was crazy when I said my aim was to put this club in the Premier League again. Amazing."
For Brighton, they will face Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs while Hull City take on Derby County in the other semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Burnley, who secured their top-flight return last Monday, were crowned Championship champions after a 3-0 final-day win at Charlton.