Burnley clinch the title of Championship


In the east Lancashire derby at Ewood Park, promoted Burnley defeated rival Blackburn Rovers to ultimately secure the Championship.

The Clarets were able to break the score thanks to a brilliant second-half goal from Manuel Benson in a competitive game that featured a strong tempo but saw few clear-cut chances for either team to score.

In stoppage time, Sammie Szmodics nearly flicked the ball inside the near post, and Dom Hyam saw a long-range drive saved, giving Blackburn five shots on target to Burnley’s one.

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When Callum Brittain’s cross seemed to strike Ashley Barnes’ arm in the closing seconds, the hosts also had loud penalty appeals rejected.

The loss hurts Rovers’ prospects of making the playoffs and drops them to eighth place, where they have gone seven games without a victory and are outside the top six on goal differential.

They welcome third-placed Luton Town in their next two games before hosting seventh-placed Millwall on May 8 in a game that might be crucial.

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Burnley’s push for the Championship crown has stalled since earning promotion back to the Premier League on April 7.

They had two draws prior to their penultimate match, which they lost shockingly 2-1 to QPR, ending their perfect Turf Moor record.

In a cagey opening 45 minutes in which neither team was particularly effective in the final third, it appeared as though Vincent Kompany’s team would be struggling with nerves as they failed to register any shots on goal.

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Tyrhys Dolan’s feeble attempt at Ari Muric and Hyam’s well-saved volley from a corner were two examples of Blackburn’s lack of a clinical edge as they finished the first half in the lead.

Shortly after the halftime, Szmodics had an opportunity to give Rovers the lead by flicking the ball on from close range, but Muric was once again able to stop it.

Just before the hour mark, Kompany began to make substitutions, and it paid off when Benson scored his 10th league goal of the season eight minutes after coming on as a substitute.

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Burnley raced into Rovers’ half as the Belgian burst down the right, switched the ball to his left foot, and sent a long shot beyond Aynsley Pears into the far corner.

Deep in stoppage time, Szmodics nearly scored an equalizer by shooting the ball over the goal face and almost beyond Muric, but quick Burnley defending forced the ball behind for a corner.

Barnes then appeared to extend his arm to block Brittain’s cross in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time, but referee Tim Robinson disallowed Blackburn’s claims.

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After the final whistle, tensions between certain players and both benches rose briefly, but they quickly subsided enough that Burnley could celebrate in front of their 2,000 supporters.

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