London (AFP) – Sheffield Wednesday cruised through to the Championship play-off final after drawing 1-1 at Brighton on Monday to secure a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Carlos Carvalhal’s side are one step away from a lucrative place in the Premier League thanks to a combative display in the semi-final second leg at the Amex Stadium.
Leading 2-0 from Friday’s first leg in Yorkshire, the visitors fell behind to Lewis Dunk’s early goal but quickly equalised through a Ross Wallace cross that crept in at the far post.
That was all the incentive Wednesday needed and, despite finishing 15 points behind Brighton in the second tier table, they easily kept Chris Hughton’s team at bay for the rest of the second leg to set up a Wembley final against Hull or Derby on May 28.
Wednesday, who last played in the top-flight in 2000, are likely to face Hull in the final as the Tigers hold a 3-0 advantage over Derby heading into their semi-final second leg on Tuesday.
It was another agonising experience for Brighton, who missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference and have now lost in the play-offs three times in the last four years.
With an estimated £170 million ($244 million) on offer to the teams promoted to the Premier League this season, Wednesday had every reason to fight and claw their way to Wembley and they were up to the challenge.
Brighton tore into them at the start and hit the post through Anthony Knockaert before taking a 19th minute lead when Dunk finished off Bruno’s flick.
But Wednesday gave the perfect response as they equalised nine minutes later.
Wallace whipped over a cross and Brighton complained Dunk was fouled as he attempted to head clear but, with Seagulls goalkeeper David Stockdale rooted to the spot, the ball nestled into the far corner.
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