Kieran Dowell goal moves Norwich within two points of return to Premier League

Championship round-up: Brentford, Swansea, Barnsley and Bournemouth all win

 Kieran Dowell scores  Norwich City’s goal  during the Sky Bet Championship match against  Derby County  at Pride Park. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Kieran Dowell scores Norwich City’s goal during the Sky Bet Championship match against Derby County at Pride Park. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

 

Norwich are on the verge of returning to the Premier League after a 1-0 win at Derby put them 17 points clear of third-placed Brentford.

Daniel Farke’s men were denied the chance to go up on the day as the Bees won 5-0 at Preston and Swansea saw off Millwall, but the Canaries need only two more points to confirm their place back in the top flight, one season after being relegated with only 21 points from 38 games.

Kieran Dowell’s free-kick was the difference at Pride Park, but Norwich had to hang on in the second half, with Tim Krul making key saves before almost gifting Graeme Shinnie a stoppage-time equaliser.

All the signs point to Norwich going back up as champions, with the win at Derby restoring their eight-point advantage at the top of the Championship after second-placed Watford beat Reading 2-0 on Friday night.

The Hornets have a nine-point cushion in the race for the second automatic promotion spot after poor runs of form for both Brentford and Swansea, though both sides at least managed to put that right on Saturday.

Brentford took their frustration out on Preston as they won 5-0 at Deepdale. Bryan Mbuemo and Marcus Forss had the Bees in control before the break, while Ivan Toney, Sergi Canos and Emiliano Marcondes all scored in the final 15 minutes.

Swansea, having gone four games without a goal, won 3-0 at Millwall in the lunchtime fixture, with Jamal Lowe scoring a second-half brace after Andre Ayew ended their scoring drought just before the break.

Fifth-placed Barnsley are a further three points behind the Swans, having played a game more, after Alex Mowatt and Daryl Dike scored in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at Oakwell.

Bournemouth capitalised on Reading’s Friday night defeat as they climbed into the final playoff place with a 4-1 win over struggling Coventry.

Arnaut Danjuma turned in David Brooks’s cross with just 24 seconds gone, though Coventry hit back moments later through Matty James.

But after Danjuma scored his second just before the half-hour mark, further goals from Brooks and Dominic Solanke earned the Cherries a hugely important three points.

Lee Bowyer’s Birmingham moved another step closer to safety as Lukas Jutkiewicz scored a brace – including his 50th league goal for the club – to help them to a 2-0 win over Stoke.

Victory lifted Blues nine points clear of the bottom three and above Huddersfield who were held to a goalless draw at home to Rotherham.

But Sheffield Wednesday are on the verge of the drop after a 4-1 hammering at QPR left them seven points adrift of safety with six matches remaining.

Josh Windass had cancelled out Lyndon Dykes’s opener to keep Wednesday level at the break, but Stefan Johansen put QPR back in front early in the second half before Dykes scored again and Chris Willock added a fourth in stoppage time.

Rock-bottom Wycombe went down 3-1 at home to Luton, who scored three times in the final 10 minutes after the hosts had been reduced to 10 men.

Anis Mehmeti put Wycombe ahead from the penalty spot just before half-time, but, after Josh Knight saw red before the hour, George Moncur, Kazenga LuaLua and Elijah Adebayo propelled Luton to victory.

Adam Armstrong struck a stoppage-time equaliser for Blackburn, denying Cardiff victory in a 2-2 draw.

It was Armstrong’s second of the afternoon after Bluebirds goalkeeper Alex Smithies gifted him the first just before the break, cancelling out Will Vaulks’s opener. Joe Ralls put Cardiff ahead against the run of play with 20 minutes to go, but Armstrong had the final word.

Bristol City and Nottingham Forest played out a goalless draw in midtable.

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