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First team to book place in Championship playoff final

The first team to book a place in the 2019/20 Championship playoff final has been confirmed after the first of two semi final second legs.

This year’s playoffs continued to be like no other with an obvious difference, with supporters unable to fill the stands to cheer their team on to glory.

The coronavirus pandemic also meant players could travel to matches on the day, some already in their kits, teams can make five substitutions for the first time in an EFL game, and there are a multitude of way to control hygiene and sanitisation as well as toned down celebrations and elbow bumps instead of handshakes.

It was last Sunday that the first tie of the semi finals got underway, Fulham travelled to Cardiff City and came away from Wales with a 2-0 win, which they take into their second leg which takes place at Craven Cottage on Thursday night.

It was an evenly contested first half which saw the Bluebirds twice go close to taking the lead before Fulham captain Tom Cairney clipped the post.

Josh Onomah then produced a moment of magic early in the second half, dancing his way past three statuesque Cardiff defenders before hitting home to put Fulham ahead.

From there on, the Scott Parker’s side dominated so much that Cardiff barely got a whiff of the ball, before Neeskens Kebano added a second in injury time with a beautiful free-kick.

It wasn’t as good for Brentford in their first leg tie at the Liberty Stadium on Monday, with Swansea winning 1-0 thanks to Andre Ayew’s thumping half-volley giving Steve Cooper’s men an advantage going into tonight’s second leg tie. Andre Ayew also hit the post, which subsequently saw Rhian Brewster fail to convert the rebound. After that, Ayew had a spot-kick saved by David Raya.

In what was the last ever match to be played at Griffin Park, the Bees knew they had to really turn it on if they wanted to get that place in the playoff final.

And that’s what they did in the first half, getting themselves two goals within the first 15 minutes and turn the aggregate score right around.

In the 11th minute, Brentford broke quickly, through the centre, and Mathias Jensen sent in a lovely through ball to Ollie Watkins, who ran and hit low into the corner.

Four minutes later, Said Benrahma had time to whip in a cross from the left, cutting in with his right foot, and dinked the ball to an unmarked Emiliano Marcondes in the middle to then head the ball home, putting them in the lead for the first time in the tie. 2-1 aggregate, 2-0 on the night.

19 minutes in and the game turned more end-to-end, Swansea almost got one back and Said Benrahma saw his low effort hit the inside of the post.

The Bees made a perfect start to the second half, stretching their lead in the 46th minute.

Rico Henry overlapped down the left and whipped in an excellent cross which met with an outstanding finish from Mbeumo.

Rhian Brewster made it game on with just over 10 minutes left of normal time, he produced a moment of magic, cheekily lobbing the ball over David Raya.

Brentford defender Pontus Jansson attempted a bizarre flick in the process, failed to clear and Brewster pounced. It meant one more goal from Swansea would force extra time.

It got heated on the touchline in the six minutes of injury time, both Frank and Swansea’s Roberts got a yellow card after clashing with each other.

Thomas Frank’s side managed to hold on to the win and seal a Championship playoff final against either Fulham or Cardiff at Wembley.

The club say goodbye to Griffin Park for the last time, as they look to move into their new community stadium, which is ready to have their newest tenants.

Brentford left-back Rico Henry tells Sky Sports: “We had chances in the last couple of games but haven’t been putting them away. Today we put them away and got the win.

“The last game at Griffin Park was always going to be an emotional one.

“We’ll go to Wembley full of confidence whoever it is and we’ll be looking to win.”

Brentford striker Ollie Watkins tells Sky Sports: “I’m over the moon. We’ve had a tough few last games of the season and it hurts a little bit but we bounced back tonight.

“We came off the pitch angry and ready to go again. We started the game well tonight and we deserved it. We could easily have punished them a little bit more tonight.

“We’ve come a long way. We came out of lockdown unbelievably, the best team I think, but then we lost the two last games.

“It was important we regrouped and got another bite of the cherry. Tonight we worked hard and I think we deserved it.

“Emotionally it’s draining losing when we’d been on such a good run. We focused on the job at hand and did what we needed to.”

There was plenty of reaction as the first team to book a place in the Championship playoff final was confirmed…

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