A dramatic final day in the EFL Championship saw a shakeup in the table, as Blackburn defeated Millwall to open the door for Sunderland to get into the promotion playoffs. Millwall held a two-goal halftime lead against Blackburn, which was barely clinging to hope for a playoff spot. However, a capitulation and a late goal doomed Millwall to another season in the Championship.
On the other hand, Sunderland’s first win over Preston North End since 2004 punched the club up one spot. Now, Sunderland will take on Luton Town in the playoff semifinal. The other semifinal is between Coventry, which managed a draw to maintain its fifth spot in the table, and Middlesbrough.
Rovers take down Lions in dramatic fashion
At The Den, the first 45 minutes had the hosts poised for success. Three first-half goals made it seem like Millwall was going to the Championship Promotion Playoffs. After all, it entered the game in sixth. In some cases, a draw would have been good enough to maintain that spot and get into the playoffs.
Duncan Watmore’s first-half brace provided a 2-1 lead. The second to restore Millwall’s lead came after a calamity among the Blackburn defense, and Watmore simply cleaned up the pieces. Oliver Burke added a sensational third to get Millwall that much closer.
However, coming out in the second half, Blackburn were the better team. Joe Rankin-Costello cut the Millwall lead in half. Then, it was a familiar face to deliver the next two goals for Blackburn. Ben Brereton Díaz, who had scored the most goals this season for Blackburn, added two more. The first of those came just after the hour mark, leveling the game. Then, in heartbreaking fashion for the home supporters, the Chilean scored again, giving Blackburn the lead. The goal came in the 86th minute.
The result kept Millwall on 68 points. Meanwhile, Blackburn jumped to 69, which is tied for enough to get into the playoffs.
Blackburn win at Millwall creates opportunity for Sunderland
However, the first tiebreaker is goal differential. Sunderland, which was playing at Preston North End, picked up a comfortable 3-0 win to maintain its superb goal differential and match Blackburn’s 69 points. Sunderland picked up goals from Manchester United loanee Amad Diallo, Alex Pritchard and Jack Clarke. Each of the three came in a 12-minute span to provide Sunderland with a massive three points.
Sunderland won promotion back into the Championship last season. If it can best Luton Town and the winner of the other semifinal in the promotion playoffs, it can jump from League One to the Premier League in just two seasons. Norwich and Southampton accomplished the feat in the early 2010s. It would, by extension, join Burnley and Sheffield United in the Premier League next season.
Championship Playoffs Schedule
The playoffs are available on ESPN+ in the United States. These are two-legged ties, giving each team a home game. Then, the eventual Final is a single game at Wembley Stadium. The home team is listed first for the semifinal legs.
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May 13 — 12:30 p.m. ET — Sunderland vs. Luton Town.
May 14 — 7 a.m. ET — Coventry vs. Middlesbrough.
May 16 — 3 p.m. ET — Luton Town vs. Sunderland.
May 17 — 3 p.m. ET — Middlesbrough vs. Coventry.
May 27 — 11:45 a.m. ET — Final
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images
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