Huddersfield gets promoted to the EPL.
The Daily Mail: “Ten grueling months, 46 games, the nerve-shredding agony of the play-offs… and the final pass for the Premier League was decided by 10 penalties in a shootout.
Huddersfield won it when Christopher Schindler — a German, naturally — stepped up to calmly convert the decisive kick and bring to an end the Yorkshire club’s 45-year exile from the top flight.
It had not been the prettiest of Wembley showpieces but it was dramatic and by the time Schindler placed the ball on the penalty spot, an air of inevitability had descended. Reading slumped, beaten and distraught.
Football has no emotional crash quite like a defeat on penalties in the Championship play-off final. For the winners, a share of the Premier League’s billions and weeks of giddy anticipation as they await fixtures, the Match of the Day cameras and the arrival of the best footballers in the land.
For the losers, the realisation that it was for nothing. They go back to zero, having been so close. Reading were ahead in the penalty shootout when goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi saved from Michael Hefele, another German centre half, who did his best to destroy the national stereotype.
Hefele, a player who basks in a cult status in Huddersfield, beat his fist into the turf, furious with his incompetence, missing at the end where Germany’s penalties had beaten England at the old Wembley in Euro 96.
It was level again when Liam Moore blazed over. Then, Aaron Mooy scored and Town keeper Danny Ward, the shootout hero in the semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday, saved from Jordan Obita.
German manager David Wagner, dressed all in black, designer spectacles and open-necked shirt, linked arms with his staff on the touchline, confident they had done all they could. His opposite number Jaap Stam could barely watch. The Dutch hate penalties almost as much as the English.
Stam paced around restlessly, unable to settle and watch, perhaps recalling the one he skied when Holland lost to Italy in the semi-final of Euro 2000. He can at least offer words of consolation for Moore and Obita.
Schindler clinched it and up in the Royal Box, chairman Dean Hoyle crumbled to the floor in tears. Hoyle, 50, has supported the club for nearly 40 years and has been chairman for eight. He took the risk to appoint Wagner, who has repaid his faith with promotion in his first full season, with a budget of little more than £10m.
Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart, applauded the prospect of seeing his beloved Huddersfield beamed into the Premier League for the first time. They have been rewarded for their enterprise, although it may have been a smoother win had they taken one of two close-range chances in the opening few minutes.
They first headed wide by Hefele from a free-kick delivered by Mooy. Five minutes later, came an even simpler opportunity. Elias Kachunga firing a low cross to Izzy Brown who was only a yard out with the goal gaping but somehow contrived to miss as the ball skidded off the turf, hit his left boot and flashed wide.
Brown, on loan from Chelsea, appeared to be just as stunned as the rest of the 76,000 fans inside the stadium when it dawned on him the ball was not in the net.
A goal at this stage might have opened up a thrilling contest. As it was, what unfolded was a cautious duel, low on incident. Reading feasted on possession but at a slow and deliberate tempo.
Lewis Grabban curled an effort wide but Stam’s team created virtually nothing until John Swift cut through to the edge of the penalty area and forced a diving save from Ward, early in the second half.
Stam’s team improved after the break and Grabban went close. Nerves were raw and players were falling with cramp. Huddersfield lost captain Smith to injury in the closing stages of normal time.
Hefele blocked from Yann Kermogant, Chris Gunter headed over and, in extra time, Garath McCleary pulled a left-footer wide from the edge of the box. These were the best of Reading’s opportunities, none of them taken.
Wells missed a good chance for Huddersfield before it went to penalties but he will not spend the next three months dwelling on what might have been.
Huddersfield are bound for the Premier League for the first time, bringing with them a blend of charm, terrier spirit and German technique from the penalty spot.