EFL

Championship: Baggies close gap on Leeds, Rooney boosts Derby's play-off push

By Sports Desk July 01, 2020

Matheus Pereira scored twice as West Brom boosted their title hopes at Sheffield Wednesday, while Wayne Rooney's winner saw Derby County close on the play-off spots.

Championship leaders Leeds United were held to a 1-1 draw by Luton Town on Tuesday and the Baggies closed the gap to just one point with a 3-0 victory at Hillsborough.

Charlie Austin's first-half penalty was added to by a brace from Pereira after the break as Slaven Bilic's side restored their five-point cushion in the final automatic promotion place.

The play-off places are what Derby and Preston are chasing and it was the Rams who came out on top at Deepdale thanks to Rooney.

England's all-time leading scorer found the net with a first-half free-kick to leave Derby one point behind sixth-placed Cardiff City.

Nottingham Forest, who Derby face next, strengthened their grip on one of the play-off berths, Tiago Silva scoring the only goal in 1 -0 victory over Bristol City.

At the other end of the table, Huddersfield Town climbed out of the relegation places with a 3-0 success at Birmingham City.

Karlan Grant, Fraizer Campbell and Elias Kachunga scored the goals for the Terriers, who were replaced in the bottom three by Hull City.

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    The Argentina great, who played for Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla as well as Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors and Newell's Old Boys in his homeland, died aged 60 after reportedly suffering a heart attack on Wednesday.

    Ceferin said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Diego Maradona, one of world football’s greatest and most iconic figures.

    "I was in touch recently to wish him well, and this news comes as a considerable shock to me.

    "Diego Maradona achieved greatness as a wonderful player with a genius and charisma of his own. He was a hero in his native Argentina, with whom he enjoyed World Cup glory, and became an eternal idol for the supporters of Napoli, who will never forget the successes he brought to the club during his memorable spell in Italy.

    "He will go down in history as someone who set football alight and thrilled fans young and old with his brilliance and skill. I have instructed UEFA to hold a minute’s silence in memory of Diego at this week’s matches."

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    Some would place him behind Lionel Messi as Argentina's greatest ever footballer, and short of Pele in the sport's pantheon of the mighty; others would say Maradona eclipses them all. It's a debate that has raged for decades, and one that is not likely to be settled for some time.

    But nobody can argue that Maradona – who died on Wednesday at the age of 60 – produced a string of performances to rival anything the World Cup has ever witnessed in Mexico in 1986.

    From the group stage to the final with West Germany, via the 'Goal of the Century' and a brazen moment of cheating, Maradona was so far above his contemporaries that the sheer idea of anyone else winning the Golden Ball was laughable.

    Argentina beat South Korea, drew with Italy and defeated Bulgaria in their group, then saw off Uruguay, England and Belgium in the knockouts before a 3-2 final defeat of West Germany. 

    As Opta data shows, Maradona was the beating heart of the Albiceleste's second World Cup triumph.

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    Gary Lineker was the only player to score more goals (six) at the 1986 World Cup than Maradona (five). That's about the only category where he did not come out on top.

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    The Argentinian who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title in Mexico, died two weeks after being released from hospital after undergoing brain surgery.

    Considered one of the greatest ever to play the game during his illustrious but oftentimes scandal-ridden career, Maradona played for Newell's Old Boys, Sevilla, Napoli, Barcelona, Boca Juniors and Argentinos Juniors scoring more than 250 goals in a career spanning more than two decades.

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    Maradona was the coach of Argentinian club Gimnasia y Esgrima at the time of his death. He was 60 years old.

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