De Futebol Fulham punches their ticket to the EPL with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa

Fulham defeated Aston Villa 1-0 to earn the final berth in the EPL next season.

The Daily Mail:” Fulham’s billionaire owner Shahid Khan does not own Wembley yet but the national stadium has provided its first magical memory as he watched his club return to the Premier League after a four-year absence.

The fabulously moustachioed Khan was considered a joke figure when he arrived from the NFL and promptly took Fulham down under another punchline, manager Felix Magath.

But yesterday the Pakistani-American looked drained as Fulham won their place back after a pulstating afternoon experiencing the drama first-hand that association football can provide.

He does not need the extra £170million of Premier League revenue given he is rich enough to table an £900m bid for Wembley but a look at his face at full-time showed how much he cared.

Under foreign ownership and the watchful eye of their Serbian boss Slavisa Jokanovic, Fulham’s all-important goal was made in Britain. Eighteen-year-old prodigy Ryan Sessegnon threaded a sublime pass to Scotland international Tom Cairney after 23 minutes and the captain dispatched his chance effortlessly.

It proved the only goal but told half the story. Villa overcame a poor first half to lay siege on Fulham’s goal, particularly when the Londoners went down to 10 men with Denis Odoi sent off after 70 minutes.

Midfielder Jack Grealish was unplayable at times and nearly scored one of Wembley’s great goals when he slalomed past three defenders.

Grealish also missed two other presentable chances and was kicked to bits, with right-back Ryan Fredericks lucky his stamp on the Villa player’s leg was not spotted.

Grealish was also incensed that a handball appeal against Odoi was not given and recklessly slid in on Cairney out of frustration, and was lucky to escape himself with a yellow.

When Odoi produced one foul too many on Grealish he saw red.

Bruce threw on three attackers to try and take advantage of the extra man. One of them, Jonathan Kodjia, missed his kick in front of goal and Grealish was denied another penalty appeal at the end.

Grealish, a local Brummie, looked devastated at the final whistle and had to be consoled at length by John Terry.

Bruce lost both his parents this year so will keep the result in perspective. But from a football point of view, it hurt.

‘There were big decisions that went against us. It should have been a red card very early [for Fredericks on Grealish],’ he said.

‘For me, he stamps on Jack. I saw it straight away and thought the fourth official was there too. When it’s that close you’d think the officials would have the communication to deal with it. ‘Fouling Jack was part of their gameplan. When he broke, they were a bit cynical.’

There will now be questions over the futures of Grealish, Terry and Bruce. ‘It’s wrong to ask me when I am aching inside. The feeling now is utter disappointment for everybody,’ added the manager.

At least the manager seems game to give it another go.

‘I have been doing it a long time and I’m in charge of a great club with a big history. I’m really gutted for everybody and I will roll my sleeves up again. It’s what I do.’

For Fulham boss Slavis Jokanovic, who won promotion with Watford three years ago but never got the chance to manage in the Premier League, it was a personal triumph.

‘We’ve shown this season we are one of the most stylish teams in the Championship. But for the last 20 minutes with 10 men we had to be solid and fight together for a clean sheet. We suffered, but we have suffered for the last three years.

‘This was a really important victory. It is not easy to play a final at Wembley for young players. They showed the right personality.’

Next season Khan will want to make his mark with the big boys.

‘He is a great man, a head of important businesses. I don’t need to teach him anything. He will know the best step for the football club,’ said Jokanovic, though he also pointed out: ‘To show ambition, you need to show the money too.’

One of his priorities may be to sign striker Aleksandr Mitrovic, on loan from Newcastle.

Fulham’s average home gate this season was 12,000 fewer than Villa. But their fans packed out their half of Wembley on their first visit since 1975. While they basked in the sun, Villa fan the Duke of Cambridge didn’t take off his shades.

Bruce complained about his side’s first-half showing. ‘I don’t know why. The heat maybe, the occasion.’

Fulham dominated until the temperatures dropped. Grealish missed a header and then dribbled around virtually the whole Fulham defence until his final shot was stopped by a combination of Kevin McDonald and Marcus Bettinelli.

Fulham had their chances too. Sessegnon had a header saved by Sam Johnstone. McDonald blazed over and Aboubakar Kamara claimed a penalty as Alan Hutton slid across.

After Odoi was sent off, Bruce introduced Josh Onomah, Kodjia and Scott Hogan. But it wasn’t to be.

De Futebol

Toons are back in the EPL after winning the Championship League.

The Daily Mail. “Dwight Gayle has labelled winning the Sky Bet Championship title with Newcastle one of the biggest achievements of his career to date.

The Magpies have spent much of the season being criticised by some for not running away with the division as they fought for a way back into the Premier League, a charge fiercely defended by manager Rafael Benitez.

However, it was all smiles on Tyneside on Sunday afternoon when a 3-0 victory over Barnsley coupled with Brighton’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa handed striker Gayle and his team-mates, who had already secured their number one objective of promotion, the trophy.

Asked if it was his biggest achievement, the £10million summer signing from Crystal Palace said: ‘I’d definitely say it’s up there.

‘It’s my favourite season and my favourite end to a season. I was saying to a few of the boys, “You’re going to remember this for the rest of your lives”.

‘Winning things is the most important thing and the fact that we won the Championship is a great achievement. We’re all buzzing about it

‘It was a fantastic day for us. The fact that we managed to do it in the end was a great feeling. It was a big thing for the players, the coaching staff and the fans as well.

‘We’re thankful for the fans and the way they’ve turned up in numbers home and away. We’re glad we got there.’

Gayle’s goals have been a major factor in Newcastle’s instant return to the big time and only persistent hamstring problems prevented him from mounting a sustained challenge for the title of the division’s top scorer.

However, the 26-year-old played a late cameo against Barnsley, coming off the bench to score the final goal and his 23rd of the season seconds before news of Villa’s equaliser filtered through to the stands.

He said: ‘The most important thing for us was to get back up, but you have your personal targets and I reached that. Hopefully, I can push on for next season.

‘I’ve had some bad times with my hamstrings and it was probably best for me to just sit it out, but obviously I always want to be playing and to miss this last day would have been gutting.

‘I’ve been doing as much as I can and the physio team have been helping me. I’m glad I got the last 10 minutes of the game.’

De Futebol

Newcastle is in second place and can get their ticket punched back to the EPL next season.

After years of suffering Toons are back.

The Telegraph’s Luke Edwards wrote:” Newcastle United will probably still be able to toast promotion in a few days, but they let the glass slip through their fingers against Leeds United as Chris Wood’s equaliser, deep into injury time, denied them victory.

Having taken the lead through Jamal Lascelles and been utterly dominant in the second half, the Newcastle captain then allowed Wood far too much room inside the area and the Leeds striker pounced in the 95th minute, converting Kemar Roofe’s cross with a superbly controlled volley.

The fact this was as well as Newcastle have played this year offered little comfort to manager Rafa Benítez, who may well feel that the Leeds supporter who held up play in stoppage time by running on to the pitch, before goading Newcastle supporters as he was led away, contributed to the loss in concentration from his defence.

The fan, who was shoved away by Pontus Jansson, appeared to try to leap into the Gallowgate End as he was escorted around the side of the pitch, with several home supporters swinging – and thankfully – missing with punches in response.

Benítez preferred to focus his anger on the officials, though, questioning the amount of stoppage time played.

“I’m so upset because I have seen so many games this season where there are things I do not understand,” Benítez said. “Why where there five minutes? There was nothing unusual, no unusual stoppages. I do not understand why they go against us.

“I prefer to focus on the performance of the team. We played well, the passion, the quality, it is just a shame about the result. I cannot be happy after that.”

Newcastle are stumbling rather than gliding towards a Premier League return. There is still a chance they could fall flat on their faces. They are eight points clear of Huddersfield, but have slipped four points behind leaders Brighton, who should be crowned champions.

This result was a reminder that Newcastle repeatedly find a way to make things hard for themselves. For Leeds, though, there was only joy. Garry Monk’s side remain on course for the play-offs.

“We must have a granite chin,” said Monk. “When you get an equaliser like that, it felt better in our dressing room than theirs after the game.

“We expected to find it difficult here against a team that will be promoted and we did. They got their tails up, our goalkeeper was outstanding, but it shows the group we have and why we’ve been in the top six all season.”

Doubts always creep in at this stage of the season and when you are a club with Newcastle’s history of grasping failure rather than trophies, the fear tends to be more acute.

It has been as if the closer they get to promotion, the harder it is for them to play well. But this was different. After a nervous start, in which Leeds hit the bar through Alfonso Pedraza, Newcastle were superb, getting to grips with the opposition and the occasion.

They increased the pressure like a python squeezing its prey. Leeds were barely able to breath. The goalkeeper Rob Green did well to deny Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey. Yoan Grouffan stabbed a shot against the post, with Ritchie’s follow-up deflected over the bar.

From the resulting corner, Green made another good save to tip over Chancel Mbemba’s header. From the next one, Ayoze Pérez had an effort cleared off the line.

Newcastle were dominant but Leeds would not submit, even after Newcastle took the lead. Gouffran swung in a cross, Aleksandar Mitrovic, who had been a bustling, physical nuisance, won the ball at the far post and Lascelles got enough on a glancing header to get it over the line.

Newcastle needed a second goal to relax, Pérez almost provided it, only for Green to once again keep it out. Benítez’s side looked as though they had everything under control, but Wood proved otherwise.