Middlesbrough 1 Burnley 2: Clarets seal return to top-flight as Boro look set to rely on play-offs
Just over 10 months since they were relegated under the caretaker stewardship of Mike Jackson, Vincent Kompany’s reborn Clarets will be back in the top-flight next season.
Ashley Barnes’ first-half opener set them on their way on Teesside, and while Boro briefly restored parity thanks to a penalty from Chuba Akpom, Connor Roberts’ 66th-minute strike secured the victory that guarantees promotion.
Middlesbrough’s hopes of claiming automatic promotion are surely over given they are now nine points adrift of the second-placed Blades, having played a game more.
The Clarets calmed any jitters by opening the scoring in the 12th minute when an alert Barnes stuck out a foot in the penalty area to divert Josh Brownhill’s 20-yard strike past Boro goalkeeper Zack Steffen and into the net.
Boro are also hoping to get back to the top-flight this season, of course, and having refused to cave in during the first half, the hosts got themselves back onto level terms within the opening two minutes of the second.
A blocked shot rebounded towards Archer, who was bundled over by a clumsy challenge from Josh Cullen as he prepared to take control of the ball inside the area. Akpom stepped up and calmly drilled home his 27th league goal of a remarkable season from the penalty spot.
Barnes headed Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s cross over as Burnley attempted to restore their advantage, and the visitors claimed the lead for a second time in the 66th minute.
Tella broke clear to slide over a low cross from the right, and having broken into the area, Roberts was left with the simple task of turning the ball home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Burnley’s celebrations were soured when Gudmundsson appeared to be struck by something that had been thrown from the crowd, but the Clarets celebrated enthusiastically when the final whistle confirmed their success.
Middlesbrough: Steffen, Smith, McNair, Lenihan, Giles, McGree, Hackney (Forss 77), Howson, Ramsey, Akpom, Archer (Crooks 69). Unused substitutes: Mowatt, Fry, Barlaser, Roberts, Bola.
Burnley: Muric, Roberts, Al-Dakhil, Beyer, Maatsen, Cullen, Brownhill, Tella (Obafemi 86), Gudmundsson (Cork 79), Zaroury (Vitinho 55), Barnes. Unused substitutes: Twine, Peacock-Farrell, Benson, Ekdal.
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire).