May 7, 2017
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Three talking points from the final day of the Sky Bet Championship

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The last day of the Championship always provides thrills and spills, with this year being no different.

It has been an excellent division this season, especially after the addition of Newcastle United and Aston Villa, two huge clubs in this country.

The injection of money in the Premier League has resulted in the lower divisions improving as well and the Championship is easily the best second tier in the world.

Here are three talking points from the final day of Championship action…

Newcastle United are champions

They were huge favourites to win the division at the beginning of the season and they managed to do that on the final day, but it was much more difficult than many predicted. It took a last minute goal from Aston Villa to hand the title to the Magpies, as a Jack Grealish effort was deflected past David Stockdale.

It looked like the trophy would be going to the Amex Stadium after Glenn Murray scored from the spot to give the Seagulls a lead, but ten-man Villa fought back and provided one more twist in the battle for first place.

Newcastle did their bit with a convincing 3-0 win over Barnsley and have turned around a seven-point deficit during the last three matches of the season.

The two clubs have been by far the best teams in the division and won promotion with relative comfort, but it took the full 46 matches to split them at the top. They have switched the top two places all season long and Brighton will feel desperately unlucky after dropping eight points during the last three matches.

However, after leading the league for 137 days, the Magpies will feel that they deserve to win the title and returned to their rampant best after promotion was secured. They scored nine goals and conceded only once in their last three matches, which gives them a lot of momentum to take into the Premier League.

Blackburn Rovers were relegated

There were three teams that could have taken the final relegation spot on the final day, but it was Blackburn Rovers that dropped to the third tier, despite an excellent away performance at Brentford.

After moving into a two-goal lead after just 16 minutes, the mood was jubilant in the away end. However, Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest both picked up three points, which meant that Rovers remained in the bottom three.

They become the first former Premier League champions to drop to the third tier and their nightmare under the Venkys continues.

Tony Mowbray has done a good job at Ewood Park and his team didn’t lose during the last five matches, but the damage had been done earlier in the campaign. Rovers have only spent 35 days outside of the relegation zone this season and that underlines why they will be playing in League One next season.

If the owners had dismissed Owen Coyle sooner, they may have stayed up. That said, credit should be given to both Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City. Both clubs had no margin for error on Sunday and they delivered the performances required to retain their Championship status.

The play-off semi-finals were confirmed

There four play-off spots were taken before the final day, with Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield and Fulham set to battle it out for the last Premier League place on offer. However, the actual finishing positions weren’t confirmed and for that reason, there was still something to play for on the final day.

The first semi-final will be Reading versus Fulham, after both teams secured victories on the final day, while the second semi-final will be Sheffield Wednesday against Huddersfield. Both ties should be great to watch for the neutral and all four teams will feel confident that they can go up.

Fulham are the team taking real momentum into the play-offs as they have spent the least time in the top six, but they have secured wins in crucial matches and play some of the best football in the division.  On the final day, they beat play-off rivals Sheffield Wednesday and that should give them a lot of confidence to take into the following weeks.

It is Huddersfield that have lost momentum, as they have won only one of their last five matches and lost convincingly on the final day to Cardiff. Also, their goalkeeper Danny Ward was sent off for handling the ball outside of the box and will, therefore, be suspended for the tie against Sheffield Wednesday.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Sky Bet Championship

Jake Jackman

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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