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West Brom go top as Championship returns

London (AFP) – West Bromwich Albion moved into first place in the Championship after a 0-0 draw against Birmingham as the English second tier returned to action on Saturday after a three-month suspension due to the coronavirus.

Slaven Bilic’s side moved above Leeds on goal difference, but it was a missed opportunity after dominating their local rivals behind closed doors at the Hawthorns.

Matheus Pereira fired wide as Albion failed to score for a third straight league game.

Leeds travel to Cardiff on Sunday and will regain top spot if they avoid defeat in Wales.

Albion still moved seven points clear of third placed Fulham in the race for automatic promotion with eight games left.

Fulham were rocked by two late goals in their 2-0 defeat against west London rivals Brentford at Craven Cottage.

The fourth placed Bees climbed to within one point of Fulham.

Emiliano Marcondes came off the bench to make an immediate impact, first teeing up Said Benrahma before lashing home a fine strike of his own.

With a draw looking likely, Marcondes produced a clever pass for Benrahma’s clinical finish with only two minutes left.

Marcondes added insult to injury by firing home three minutes later himself, with Benrahma returning the favour and this time applying the assist for the midfielder.

Nathan Jones picked up a point on his return as Luton manager as Callum McManaman earned the bottom of the table Hatters a 1-1 draw with sixth placed Preston.

Blackburn came from behind to beat promotion rivals Bristol City 3-1 and move within a point of the play-offs.

Louie Sibley’s superb hat-trick earned Derby a 3-2 win over Millwall at the Den.

Sibley, 18, was making only the second league start of his career.

He is the youngest player to score a league hat-trick in the top four tiers since Ryan Sessegnon in November 2017.

Charlton claimed a huge win in the battle for survival as Hull dropped into the relegation zone after a 1-0 home defeat.

Jason Pearce’s bundled effort in the 18th minute clinched the points for Charlton.

Swansea won 3-0 at Middlesbrough to keep alive their hopes of a play-off place.

Nick Powell scored two minutes into stoppage time as relegation-threatened Stoke salvaged a 1-1 draw at Reading.

Wigan’s 2-0 victory at Huddersfield moved them three points clear of the relegation zone.

Elliot Simoes’ early goal gave second bottom Barnsley a 1-0 victory at QPR, while Sheffield Wednesday drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest.

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