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Sheffield United 2-0 Ipswich Town: Blades on brink of Premier League return

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Scott Hogan’s opening goal was only the second of his loan spell with the Blades

Sheffield United effectively sealed promotion to the Premier League by beating relegated Ipswich at Bramall Lane.

Goals from Scott Hogan and Jack O’Connell put the Blades six points clear of third-placed Leeds, who host Aston Villa on Sunday (12:00 BST) and must beat in-form Villa at Elland Road to keep their extremely slim automatic promotion hopes alive.

Even if they do so, Chris Wilder’s side have a vastly superior goal difference compared to their Yorkshire rivals and would only finish outside the top two if:

  • Leeds win their final game of the season away at Ipswich.
  • Sheffield United lose their last match away at Stoke.
  • Leeds overturn a goal difference which is 13 in Sheffield United’s favour after Saturday’s result.

On such a big occasion, there were few signs of nerves on show from the home side, who are on the brink of ending a 12-year exile from England’s top division.

Strike pair David McGoldrick and Hogan wasted early chances before Hogan, on loan from Villa, turned in O’Connell’s low cross at the near post.

Visiting goalkeeper Dean Gerken pushed Oliver Norwood’s second-half free-kick against the upright, but centre-back O’Connell made the game safe with a towering close-range header from John Fleck’s corner.

Bottom club Ipswich, who have only won four of their 45 Championship matches this season, did well to weather long spells of Blades pressure without conceding again, but showed little attacking threat.

Should Sheffield United be promoted as expected, Wilder will have taken teams up from England’s fifth, fourth, third and second tiers during his managerial career.

Several members of the squad that won the League One title in 2016-17 remain at Bramall Lane and have been backed up by astute additions such as Norwood, who could win promotion from the Championship for the third successive season with a third different club.

The Northern Ireland international midfielder helped Brighton reach the Premier League in 2017 and then did so with Fulham a year later via the play-offs.

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