Leeds thump Norwich to reach Championship play-off final

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Leeds thump Norwich to reach Championship play-off final

Leeds cruised through to the Sky Bet Championship play-off final as they thumped Norwich 4-0 in the second leg of their semi-final.

After a goalless draw at Carrow Road on Sunday, Leeds blew their opponents away in Thursday night’s return tie at home at Elland Road, booking their spot at Wembley.

First-half goals from Ilia Gruev, Joel Piroe and Georginio Rutter set them well on their way, while Crysencio Summerville added to the rout after the break.

They will face Southampton or West Brom for a spot in next season’s Premier League on Sunday May 26.

Leeds excel on the big occasion to edge closer to PL return

Ilia Gruev of Leeds United celebrates scoring

Image: Ilia Gruev celebrates scoring the opener for Leeds

It was the perfect nerve-settling start from Leeds. Just seven minutes in and they were in front, as Gruev’s brilliant, quickly-taken free-kick, completely evaded Angus Gunn in the Norwich goal. He had been expecting a cross and was wrong-footed, seeing the ball sneak in at the near post from 25 yards.

After 20 minutes they doubled their advantage. Again, Gunn would not have been happy with his role in it, failing to act decisively to claim Wilfried Gnonto’s cross, allowing Piroe to get his head on the ball and find the back of the net.

Norwich should have been back in it two minutes later as Ethan Ampadu’s slip allowed Josh Sargent in on goal. The striker has been so clinical all season, but on this occasion he was denied by the onrushing Illan Meslier, who made himself big to make the save.

And the Canaries would regret that miss even more on 41 minutes as Summerville teed up Rutter, who thundered in a third for Leeds off the underside of the crossbar.

It went from bad to worse at the start of the second half for Norwich as Sargent, their key No 9, was forced off with injury. And it turned into a further nightmare, and a Leeds dream, as Summerville made it four, slotting in from close range after Gunn had palmed Junior Firpo’s cross into his path.

Farke praises ‘clinical’ side, but won’t get carried away

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Daniel Farke gives high praise to his side after Leeds United reached the Championship play-off final

Leeds boss Daniel Farke told Sky Sports Football:

“When I watch the game back at home on the sofa I’ll enjoy it! During the game I was just focused on making the right decisions. But the team were brilliant today, and a bit more brutal and clinical in front of goal to finish the game.

“In the last seasons I spent in this league I was promoted twice. Right now I’m in the play-off final.

“If someone had told us we’d get to Wembley and one game away from the Premier League back at the start of September, I’d have said no chance. But right now we have that chance.”

A magic night for Leeds: All the goals

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Ilia Gruev gives Leeds an early lead as his clever free-kick caught out Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn

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Joel Piroe heads in from a Willy Gnonto cross to give Leeds a 2-0 lead

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Georginio Rutter makes it three

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Crysencio Summerville taps into an empty net from Junior Firpo’s cut-back for 4-0

The second leg: In numbers

Sixth time lucky? Will Leeds finally end their play-off hoodoo?

Sky Sports’ EFL editor Simeon Gholam:

“Any fears of a play-off semi-final nightmare like the one they faced against Derby five years ago were quickly dispelled at Elland Road.

“Leeds went for the jugular early on, and rarely let up. They simply blew Norwich away with a bombastic first half. It was among their best performances of the season, and it came at the perfect time.

“Will they go on to Wembley and take a further step now? Their record suggests no. But history is there to be changed, and bad records are there to be broken.

“If they play anything like they did on Thursday night at the national stadium, no one will be able to handle them.”

Leeds have appeared in the EFL play-offs five times previously and have failed to seal promotion on any occasion.

  • 1986/87 – lost in Division Two (now Championship) final over two legs to Charlton Athletic. This was before the final was played as a one-off a Wembley.
  • 2005/06 – lost in Championship final to Watford 3-0 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
  • 2007/08 – lost in League One final to Doncaster at Wembley.
  • 2008/09 – lost in League One semi-finals to Millwall.
  • 2018/19 – lost in Championship semi-finals to Derby County.
  • 2023/24 – into Championship final at Wembley

Wagner: We were second best

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Norwich head coach David Wagner says the 4-0 defeat to Leeds ‘hurts a lot’, admitting his side were a long way off their best.

Norwich boss David Wagner told Sky Sports Football:

“We were poor tonight, unfortunately at the moment where it counts. This hurts a lot, but I’d like to thank everyone of my staff and players for all their effort this season even if the truth is today we were poor.

“At the end of the day in the play-offs you have to stay in the game. To concede a second and a third one was very poor and it gave ourselves a mountain to climb, which we weren’t able to do.

“We were second best today.”

What’s next?

Leeds advance to the Sky Bet Championship play-off final, where they will face West Brom or Southampton at Wembley on Sunday May 26, live on Sky Sports Football.

Norwich will remain in the second tier for the 2024/25 campaign.

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