Hull and Sheffield Wed take big steps towards final

LONDON • Hull City took a giant leap towards the English Championship play-off final with a 3-0 victory at Derby County in the first leg of their semi-final on Saturday.

Abel Hernandez opened the scoring with a 25-metre shot in the 30th minute and the Tigers doubled their lead 10 minutes later, when Moses Odubajo's effort deflected in off Derby's Jason Shackell.

Andy Robertson added a third goal on the counter-attack deep into second-half stoppage time.

"It's a big play-off game against a good Derby team and you don't expect to win 3-0," Hull manager Steve Bruce told Sky Sports. "I think it's the best we've played in a long, long time.

"When you're away from home, to start with you've got to be rock solid. I don't think they've had a chance. It's testament to the team and the way they've worked."

The former Manchester United captain added: "We worked all week at playing on the counter-attack. Derby went a little bit direct which played into our hands and then we could break."

Hull's victory was especially sweet for Bruce's team as it was only last month that they suffered a 4-0 defeat at Derby's iPro Stadium.

Derby were the only team to win a regular-season Championship match at Hull this term and they must do so again tomorrow if they are to reach the final, where they would face either Sheffield Wednesday or Brighton & Hove Albion.

"We need to go and enjoy the game. We've got to be ready and focused for Tuesday and make sure we get the job done," Bruce said.

The winners of the Championship play-off final at Wembley on May 28 will secure the third and final promotion place to the lucrative English Premier League, joining Burnley and Middlesbrough, who took the two automatic spots.

No team have overturned a two-goal deficit in a Championship play-off. So, with Wednesday beating Brighton 2-0 in the first leg of the other semi-final on Friday, an all-Yorkshire Wembley final looms.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2016, with the headline 'Hull and Sheffield Wed take big steps towards final'. Print Edition | Subscribe