EFL Championship final day live score, updates, highlights as Sheffield United, Luton, Middlesbrough and Millwall bid for playoffs

Two EFL Championship playoff places are up for grabs on the final day of the 2021/22 season in the reliably engrossing second tier of English football.

After 45 matches, Sheffield United and Luton Town occupy the fifth and sixth in the table, with seventh-placed Middlesbrough and Millwall in eighth bidding to keep alive their chances of playing Premier League football next season.

EFL Championship final day live scores

  1H 2H Final
Bournemouth vs. Millwall
Luton Town vs. Reading
Preston vs. Middlesbrough
Sheffield United vs. Fulham

EFL Championship live updates, highlights

Half-time: Sheffield United and Luton are heading for the playoffs as it stands. There hasn’t been any drama in terms of the final two positions in the top six changing places so far. United are 3-0 up and cruising to fifth place. Luton will finish in sixth if they hang onto their lead, regardless of how Millwall, who are currently drawing 0-0, finish up at Bournemouth.

That calamitous goal was cruel on Reading goalkeeper Nyland, who had made a few solid saves in the previous minutes. The Norwegian held a hand up and apologised as the half-time whistle blew.

45 mins: GOAL – Luton 1-0 Reading. Luton are on course for the playoffs! It’s a nightmare for Reading’s Nyland, who becomes the victim of one of those brilliantly slapstick goals in which the goalkeeper does not realise an opposition player is behind him as he rolls the ball out in front of him.

Harry Cornick is on hand to complete the comedic sequence, gratefully pouncing – no pantomime “he’s behind you” shouts here – to take the ball off Nyland just as the goalkeeper had dropped it in front of him, ready to launch a pass forward.

The attacker rolls the ball into the net and races off to celebrate in front of a stadium which, as you can probably imagine, explodes in celebration.

40 mins: This is how Berge buried the third for the Blades. Middlesbrough boss Wilder loves Sheffield United but it looks very unlikely that he’ll be meeting his old club in the playoffs this season.

36 mins: Here’s Ndiaye’s goal that made it 2-0 to Sheffield United, who have since added a third at home to Fulham. Their place in the playoffs looks all-but assured now.

Luton have perhaps lost a little of their early energy against Reading, but are still cruising in terms of chances and attempts on goal. Millwall have not had any major chances at Bournemouth. The Hatters remain in sixth for the time being.

34 mins: GOAL – Preston 2-0 Middlesbrough. On the final day of the 2015-16 season, Middlesbrough were promoted to the Premier League on a glorious final day in the club’s Championship season.

No such salvation this time. Dael Fry diverts a cross from inside the penalty area on the left into his own net, changing the trajectory of the ball with an outstretched leg to unwittingly deceive goalkeeper Luke Daniels.

33 mins: Unless they go ahead, Luton’s main concern will be Millwall pushing at Bournemouth. Preston have also found the net again at home to Middlesbrough, but the goal is ruled out for offside.

27 mins: Amid all the action elsewhere, we should mention that Reading had an excellent chance to take the lead at Luton. Ovie Ejaria broke free inside the penalty area on the left, and home goalkeeper Matt Ingram stopped his shot without being excessively troubled.

Campbell had a shot blocked on the edge of the penalty area for Luton, for whom James Bree also went close, sending an effort wide.

25 mins: GOAL – Sheffield United 3-0 Fulham. You can’t fault Paul Heckingbottom’s side for alternating between assist-providers and scorers, as their second goalscorer, Ndiaye, sets up Sander Berge to score from close range.

It will take an almighty collapse for Sheffield United to pass up that third playoff place now. That shifts the focus onto sixth place, which Luton currently occupy. With Middlesbrough behind at Preston, Millwall are their main threat – it remains goalless between the Lions and Bournemouth.

24 mins: GOAL – Preston 1-0 Middlesbrough. Alan Browne scores with an eye-catching strike as North End continue their impressive home record this season despite having nothing to play for in midtable.

That’s a major blow for Middlesbrough, who must win to have a chance of reaching the playoffs. It’s also good news for Luton, who are now not on course to be dislodged from sixth unless they go behind and Millwall move ahead at Bournemouth.

21 mins: GOAL – Sheffield United 2-0 Fulham. The team in fifth are well on their way to confirming a playoff campaign! Gibbs-White turns provider this time, and Iliman Ndiaye fires in their second.

Fulham have already won the league and could well be on the beach already, as the saying goes. United and Luton remain in fifth and sixth at the moment.

19 mins: Luton win a corner on the right. Reading clear and their opponents launch another attack down the same flank before losing possession.

Ince will demand a respectable showing from his side today – how long they can hold Luton off for, at this rate, is questionable.

18 mins: Here’s that Sheffield United goal. At Bournemouth, Emiliano Marcondes has just broken clear but been thwarted by Millwall goalkeeper Bart Bialkowski, keeping the score at 0-0.

12 mins: Luton have had a couple of good chances, most recently when Jerome headed Reece Burke’s cross from the right wide at the far post.

Reading are not providing stiff resistance so far, and Jones will be pleased with the energy and attacking intent his team are showing, as they characteristically do.

10 mins: GOAL – Sheffield United 1-0 Fulham. Joy for the hosts at Bramall Lane, where Morgan Gibbs-White nods in an Olly Norwood cross.

That cements the Blades in fifth place at the moment. Luton are still poised for sixth, with no goals yet in the games involving the teams behind them, Middlesbrough and Millwall. What a start for Sheffield United as they bid to regain the Premier League status they lost when they finished bottom last season!

9 mins: Although we’re bringing you live action from Luton, we will keep you right up to date with the goals as they go in for the playoff contenders this afternoon.

None of the four teams have found the net or conceded yet, meaning Sheffield United, in fifth, and sixth-placed Luton remain on course to qualify. Millwall and Middlesbrough are missing out as matters stand.

7 mins: Campbell strays beyond Tom Holmes to reach a right-wing cross at the far post with an attempt on goal that is comfortable for Nyland to claim.

Jerome was lurking in front of goal and would have been odds-on to score had Campbell nodded the ball into his path. Still, Luton’s dominance must be encouraging for the home fans – albeit without ruthlessness yet.

3 mins: Luton are dominating possession and have another shot at goal. Cameron Jerome nods a long ball back into the path of Allan Campbell outside the penalty area on the right, and the midfielder responds by half-volleying an effort well over the bar.

The Scot had time and space there to take a touch. With a tad more composure, he could put himself in a position to test Nyland more. Luton are clearly eager to go ahead but hastiness may not help their cause this afternoon.

1 min: Reading begin the action! The Royals are in yellow and attacking from right to left in the first half. They give the ball away almost immediately, resulting in a Luton attack which provides Cameron Jerome with a huge chance to open the scoring.

The experienced striker provides a poor finish, advancing unmarked into the penalty area on the left and curling a shot straight at goalkeeper Orjan Nyland. Luton really should be ahead – a massive let-off for Reading.

5 mins before KO: Nerves are jangling. Fans in orange are making plenty of noise at Luton’s Kenilworth Road, an old-school ground which would be one of the most traditional if it becomes a Premier League stadium next season.

From a neutral point of view, you’d expect the hosts to beat Reading, who’ve spent a poor season hovering above the relegation places. “We’re on our way, we’re on our way – to the Premier League, we’re on our way,” comes the optimistic chant from the stands.

The players are out, emerging to a raucous reception as Nathan Jones’ side look to extend their season. Jones shakes hands with Reading’s interim manager, former England international Paul Ince.

20 mins before KO: Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder, who has won 16 of his 32 matches in charge since taking over in November, has been speaking ahead of his side’s game at Preston.

“We know the challenge here – they’ve got a decent home record,” Wilder tells Sky Sports. “The good thing for us is that we’re in good nick. We need a good performance.”

30 mins before KO: The teams who finish fifth and sixth today will hope to do better than their predecessors in those places in the Championship last season.

Fifth-placed Barnsley lost their semifinal to Swansea, while Bournemouth, who finished behind them, blew a 1-0 lead from the first leg of their semifinal by losing 3-1 at Brentford, who won the final.

The beaten semifinalists had contrasting seasons this time around: Bournemouth will finish second after winning promotion with a game to spare, and Barnsley will start next season in League One after ending up bottom of the pile.

45 mins before KO: Middlesbrough spent a sole season outside of the Premier League between 1995 and 2009 but have been a Championship club in all but one campaign since then.

After finishing second in the Championship in 2016, Boro won only five games as they finished second-bottom of the Premier League in the 2016-17 season.

Having won 3-1 at home to Stoke last Saturday, Wilder’s side must win at Preston today to be in contention for a playoff spot, which they will then be guaranteed if Luton fail to win.

They will also be in with a chance if Sheffield United do not win, although a draw for the Blades and a Middlesbrough win would take it down to goal difference – and Boro start with a two-goal inferiority in that respect.

One hour before KO: Sheffield United finished bottom of the Premier League last season, enduring a dismal campaign that included the departure of Blades fan and current Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder.

United manager Paul Heckingbottom was interim boss before the doomed appointment in May of Slavisa Jokanovic, who lasted less than six months at Bramall Lane.

Heckingbottom’s players recovered from a goal down at half-time to win 3-1 at QPR last week. That means a draw at home to Fulham today should secure them a playoff spot unless Luton and Middlesbrough both win. Victory would guarantee them fifth place and a semifinal against Huddersfield.

One hour 15 mins before KO: All of the teams vying for the playoffs today are in reasonable – if not entirely convincing – form. Millwall have fared best in their last ten games, winning four times and losing only twice on their way to being in with a shot of making the top six on the final day of the season.

Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Luton have all accrued 15 points during that time, each winning four games and losing three. Boro and the Blades have both won their last two games as part of three-match unbeaten runs, while Millwall are unbeaten in five and Luton are winless in two.

One hour 30 mins before KO: Millwall, who travel to promoted Bournemouth, have also never been part of the Premier League since its inception in 1992.

Their highest position in the modern Championship – the second tier of the game in England – is eighth, where they finished in 2018 and 2020.

The Lions also start today’s action in that position. They must win and hope that at least two of the teams above them slip up to have any hope of securing a playoff place.

One hour 45 mins before KO: Although Luton have spent seasons in the top flight, the Hatters have never been in the modern Premier League.

Town were a non-league team as recently as 2014, when they won promotion back to the football league five years after being relegated from the fourth tier of English football. It would be some story for them to make the playoffs, let alone win promotion.

Two hours before KO: Hello and welcome to The Sporting News’ coverage of the final day of the Championship campaign, bringing the regular season of the second tier in England to a close by deciding which teams will enjoy and endure the thrills and agonies of the playoffs.

Unusually for the Championship, all three relegation places have already decided, with Derby County, Peterborough United and Barnsley dropping to League One. Fulham and Bournemouth, meanwhile, have secured first and second place, ensuring they will be playing Premier League football in 2022/23.

That leaves everyone watching the final two of the four playoff spots, in which any slip-ups by Sheffield United or Luton could allow Middlesbrough or Millwall to usurp them. Drama, delight and despair are guaranteed.

Which teams are in the EFL Championship playoffs?

Fulham will be a Premier League club in 2022/23 because they have already won the title as part of a spectacular season for the west London club, while Bournemouth beat third-placed Nottingham Forest on May 3, ensuring they are promoted in second and Forest will be in the playoffs. 

Forest will join Huddersfield Town and two other clubs in the end-of-season series. Luton Town (72 points) and Sheffield United (72) are in fifth and sixth, but they know that any result other than a win could allow Middlesbrough (70) and Millwall (69) to leapfrog them after the final round of matches on Saturday, May 7.

*As of Saturday, May 7

Rank Club GP W D L Pts GD
1. Fulham** 45 27 9 9 90 +67
2. Bournemouth** 45 24 13 8 85 +34
3. Nottingham Forest* 45 23 10 12 79 +33
4. Huddersfield Town* 45 22 13 10 79 +15
5. Sheffield United 45 20 12 13 72 +14
6. Luton Town 45 20 12 13 72 +7
7. Middlesbrough 45 20 10 15 70 +12
8. Millwall 45 18 15 12 69 +9

** = Won promotion
* = Clinched playoff berth

MORE: How do the EFL Championship playoffs work?

Luton’s peril has increased because of their 7-0 defeat at Fulham on May 2, dealing a huge blow to their goal difference β€”the number of goals scored minus the number conceded over the course of the league season, which is used to separate teams finishing on equal points.

That result, allied with Millwall’s 3-0 win against relegated Peterborough two days earlier, means victory for Gary Rowett’s side or Middlesbrough would drop the Hatters out of the top six unless they win.

EFL Championship final day fixtures

It could be construed as good news for the clubs involved in the playoff race that none of the sides they will face on the final day have anything left to play for this season.

As all of their four managers would undoubtedly tell you, though, that ostensible lack of a competitive incentive for their opponents could also prove dangerous.

Luton appear to have the kindest fixture, hosting Reading β€” the team who will finish nearest the relegation places, but whose safety is guaranteed.

The Royals will, however, arguably be under no pressure, and could be driven to play for pride after a wretched season for the former Premier League club.

Conversely, Millwall go to Bournemouth and Sheffield United host Fulham β€” and those could be easier fixtures given that the top two have spent much of the past week celebrating their promotions.

Preston North End, who welcome Middlesbrough, are marooned in midtable. Again, that makes it hard to tell whether they will be motivated to end on a high or simply keen to get the game out of the way.

Fixture Date Kickoff time (UK) Kickoff time (USA) Kickoff time (Canada) Kickoff time (Australia)
Bournemouth vs. Millwall May 7 12:30 BST 07:30 ET 07:30 ET 21:30 AEST
Luton Town vs. Reading May 7 12:30 BST 07:30 ET 07:30 ET 21:30 AEST
Preston vs. Middlesbrough May 7 12:30 BST 07:30 ET 07:30 ET 21:30 AEST
Sheffield United vs. Fulham May 7 12:30 BST 07:30 ET 07:30 ET 21:30 AEST

When are the EFL Championship playoff semifinals?

The playoff semifinals take place over two legs, home and away, with the team finishing third in the Championship taking on those who ended in sixth. Fifth place battles fourth for a spot in the final.

The higher seed hosts the second leg, meaning that any of the sides confirmed in the playoffs on the final day will play at home first, as they cannot finish above fifth.

Fixture Date Kickoff time (UK) Kickoff time (USA) Kickoff time (Canada) Kickoff time (Australia)
No. 6 vs. No. 3 May 13/14 19:45 BST 14:45 ET 14:45 ET 04:45 AEST
No. 5 vs. No. 4 May 14 14:45 BST 09:45 ET 09:45 ET 23:45 AEST
No. 3 vs. No. 6 May 16/17 19:45 BST 14:45 ET 14:45 ET 04:45 AEST
No. 4 vs. No. 5 May 17/18 19:45 BST 14:45 ET 14:45 ET 04:45 AEST

When is the EFL Championship playoff final?

The 2021/22 EFL Championship final is a single-elimination match taking place on Sunday, May 29 at Wembley.

Kick-off is at 16:30 local time (BST)11:30 ET (in USA and Canada), and 01:30 AEST in Australia on Monday, May 30.

How to watch the EFL Championship final day

  UK US Canada Australia
TV Sky Sports β€” DAZN beIn SPORTS
Streaming Now/SkyGo ESPN+ DAZN β€”

UK: Viewers in the UK can watch the Championship final day on Sky Sports Football or streamed through SkyGo. Now TV subscribers can also watch or stream the action if they have Sky Sports included.

USA: In the United States, you can stream the Championship finale via ESPN+.

Canada: In Canada, DAZN is your port of call for Championship action.

Australia: In Australia, beIN SPORTS will broadcast the Championship conclusion.

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