LONDON (Reuters) - Middlesbrough are back in the Premier League after a 1-1 draw with 10-man Brighton & Hove Albion in their multi-million pound promotion decider on Saturday while Burnley sealed the Championship title with a 3-0 victory at Charlton Athletic.
Middlesbrough needed just one point and Brighton had to win in the final game of the season to secure automatic promotion to the top flight in a game estimated to be worth 170 million pounds ($245.28 million) to the side that prevailed.
Boro’s Riverside Stadium became a sea of celebratory red after they earned their crucial point despite Cristhian Stuani’s 19th-minute goal being answered by Dale Stephens’s second-half header for the Seagulls.
Yet Stephens went from hero to villain within three minutes, attracting a straight red card for a late studs-up challenge which resulted in Gaston Ramirez being taken off on a stretcher with what looked like a serious leg injury.
The draw left both sides on 89 points but Aitor Karanka’s Boro will be back in the Premier League for the first time in seven years thanks to a superior goal difference of a mere two goals.
Brighton will now have to take their chances in the playoffs with Hull City, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday.
Already-promoted Burnley bounce straight back into the Premier League, following last season’s relegation, as champions.
They took the crown with 93 points, four clear of their pursuers, thanks to a handsome win at Charlton secured through goals from Sam Vokes, George Boyd and Andre Gray.
Middlesbrough’s Spanish manager Karanka looked emotional as the Riverside pitch was engulfed by fans.
“When I arrived here, some people said I was crazy when I said my aim was to take this club back to the Premier League. Two-and-a-half years later, we are in the Premier League,” said the man who had been Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid.
Middlesbrough’s joy was a far cry from their despair last season when they were beaten in the Championship playoff final by Norwich City at Wembley.
This season they had been sailing towards the Premier League but their form slumped and Karanka ended up in a major bust-up with his players that briefly appeared to threaten his future at the club.
Burnley, who secured their promotion on Monday with a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, hammered the already-relegated Charlton, whose manager Jose Riga resigned five months into his 18-month contract soon after the game.
In the final round of matches in League Two, the fourth tier of the game in England, Bristol Rovers won promotion in dramatic fashion, beating Dagenham & Redbridge at the last gasp 2-1 while Accrington Stanley’s romantic bid failed at the final hurdle.
Lee Brown scored Rovers’ winner in stoppage time, which was enough to oust Stanley who drew 0-0 at home to Stevenage and must now rely on making League One by the playoff route.
Oxford United’s 3-0 win at home to Wycombe Wanderers was enough for them to seal the second promotion place behind champions Northampton Town.
Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Toby Davis and Clare Fallon