Early goals from Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond ensured Norwich City beat Middlesbrough 2-0 in the Championship play-off final to make an immediate return to the Premier League.
Norwich suffered the anguish of relegation a year ago, but 12 months on they were celebrating on the hallowed Wembley turf as Boro suffered the heartbreak of defeat in a game described as the richest in football.
The impressive Jerome took advantage of a mistake by former Norwich defender Daniel Ayala to put Alex Neil’s side in front and Redmond ended a long sequence of passes to double their lead only three minutes later.
There was no way back for Aitor Karanka’s side and Boro, who finished the regular season a point behind third-placed Norwich, will spend a seventh consecutive season in the Championship.
Victory for Norwich is worth a reported £120million and they will join Bournemouth and Watford in the top flight, with 33-year-old Neil having worked wonders since moving to Carrow Road from Hamilton Academical in January.
On-loan striker Patrick Bamford was passed fit to lead the line for Boro after recovering from an ankle injury as Kike dropped to the bench, while Neil named an unchanged side.
Both sides struck the woodwork in the space of a minute in a lively start, with Bradley Johnson’s drive rattling the crossbar before Jelle Vossen beat John Ruddy with a thunderous drive that also came back off the bar.
Norwich were brimming with confidence as they zipped the ball around with a swagger and stunned Boro, who were late to arrive at the stadium and slow to get going, by taking a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes.
They were given a helping hand by Ayala for the opener, as the defender dithered on the ball by the byline on the right and Jerome took advantage by dispossessing him before surging into the penalty area and slotting beyond Dimi Konstantopoulos at his near post from a tight angle.
Things went from bad to worse for Boro three minutes later, when Steven Whittaker picked out Redmond in the area and the winger took a touch to take the ball away from Ben Gibson then fired a fine finish into the far corner of the net to round off a fine passing move.
Boro were rocked by those early setbacks are looked short of ideas going forward against a well drilled Norwich side, who worked tirelessly off the ball to frustrate the Teessiders.
Vossen was booked for diving in a desperate attempt to win a penalty 10 minutes into the second half as Karanka’s men started to pose more of a threat.
Bamford turned sharply on the edge of the area, but Ruddy got down to keep out the Chelsea man’s left-foot strike and Boro’s frustration mounted as Norwich stood firm.
Redmond fired a free-kick wide 12 minutes from time, but it mattered not as the damage had already been done and Norwich emulated QPR last year by securing a Wembley win to go straight back up.
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