Manchester City took another big step towards the Premier League title as they thrashed Liverpool 4-1 on Sunday, a record-equalling 14th straight victory in all competitions.

Only Preston North End, whose run ended in January 1892, and Arsenal in 1987 have ever achieved such a sequence of wins while in England's top flight.

City can now set a new benchmark against Swansea in the FA Cup on Wednesday.

They have moved five points clear of second-placed Manchester United with a game in hand at the top of the Premier League, while Liverpool are back in fourth, 10 points off the pace.

Defending champions Liverpool were undefeated in 68 consecutive home league matches before hosting Burnley last month but have now lost three in a row at Anfield for the first time since September 1963, also being beaten by Brighton and Hove Albion prior to this fixture.

Chelsea, in March 1956, were the previous reigning champions to endure a three-game losing stretch at home in the top flight.

Liverpool at least ended a 410-minute home league goal drought with Mohamed Salah's penalty, cancelling out Ilkay Gundogan's opener.

The Reds avoided going four league matches at Anfield without scoring for the first time in their history, having drawn a blank in a draw with United prior to this losing run, but it counted for little in the end.

Gundogan preyed on an Alisson error for his second, before the Liverpool goalkeeper again ceded possession for Raheem Sterling to net his 100th goal under Pep Guardiola.

Alisson became the first Liverpool goalkeeper to make two errors leading directly to goals since Loris Karius' desperate showing in the 2017-18 Champions League final.

There was still time, too, for Phil Foden to add a spectacular fourth and cap City's first away win in this fixture since May 2003.

Aged 20 years and 255 days old, Foden, who teed up Gundogan's second, became the youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League game against Liverpool at Anfield.

Preston to Liverpool may not be too far to travel in terms of miles, but it has been quite a footballing journey that has seen Ben Davies end up at Anfield. 

The defender completed one of the more unlikely transfers of this mid-season window, or of any other year for that matter, when he signed a long-term contract to join the reigning Premier League champions on deadline day.  

In need of defensive reinforcements with Joel Matip becoming the latest long-term casualty, the Reds turned to a player from the Championship few thought to be on their radar less than 48 hours earlier. Even the player himself admitted it was all a bit surreal, though this was the kind of career opportunity simply too good to turn down.   

So, February 1, 2021, will now always live long in the memory for Davies, who has taken in a few temporary stops along the way to his current destination. The first of those was at York City, where as a talented but raw teenager he was initially set to stay for a month but ended up sticking around for an entire season in League Two.  

"He was a skinny kid who came into our changing room and was very, very quiet," former York goalkeeper Michael Ingham told Stats Perform News about that 2013-14 campaign. "I think the difference from when he first came to the end of his spell was night and day. 

"Ben came into a good changing room, one with a lot of characters. He was the butt of a couple of jokes but just grew and grew. That's what parent clubs try to do, to get their young players out on loan so they can grow up a bit. He definitely did that. 

"When he was with us, you'd have thought he was a left-back all day long. He's obviously grown into his body and developed that aggressive side to his game, something which you need to play at centre-half."

It was far from easy going in the first half of that campaign: York went into 2014 sitting outside the relegation zone only on goal difference. However, a January recruitment drive by boss Nigel Worthington changed everything. The Minstermen lost just twice in their remaining league games, going from serious candidates to drop through the trapdoor and out of the Football League to unexpected challengers for promotion.  

Davies was a mainstay in the team, making 47 appearances in all competitions. The last of them was in a 0-0 draw in the second leg of the play-off semi-final against Fleetwood, a result that ended hopes of going up. There was no promotion to celebrate, but the campaign had undoubtedly been a huge success for him personally. 

Worthington had also produced another transfer masterstroke in getting Nick Pope to York in from Charlton Athletic for the second half of the campaign.  

"I'd picked up a groin strain and had said I’d need to come out, but there was no room in the budget for someone to come in at that stage," Ingham recalls.  

"I played and I played until it eventually went, then someone came in on loan before Popey. I got fit again, kept two clean sheets as we won three games on the bounce. Then, on a Monday, I saw this big lad in the changing room and I knew straight away that I was coming out of the team again.  

"He was an unbelievable size and had great attributes. He struggled a little bit with his kicking while with us but was a great shot-stopper and would come out all day long for crosses. He might drop the odd one but would come again the next time. 

"You could see he had great confidence in his ability and was going on to higher things." 

Both Pope – now pushing hard to be considered England's number one - and Davies would go out on loan again elsewhere to gain valuable experience. It could well be that exactly seven years on from playing on the same team as York's promotion bid ended at Fleetwood, they line up as opponents when Burnley host Liverpool at Turf Moor in mid-May.  

Ingham, now playing at a semi-professional level while working as a coach for i2i Football Academy, will watch on if his former team-mates are pitted on opposite sides in the Premier League. He knows only too well the value of loan moves, something that helped him personally in the early stages of his career after moving to Sunderland.

"I had the quick realisation when going there [to Sunderland] that I needed to play games somewhere to get ready for the first team," the former Northern Ireland international explained. "I didn't think reserve team football was good enough for me, so I went out on loan probably twice every year I was there." 

Davies continued to be a loan ranger for several years too, heading out to Tranmere Rovers, Southport, Newport County and Fleetwood before eventually establishing himself the first team at Preston, initially as a full-back before transitioning to the heart of North End's defence.   

He had been a mainstay in the 2020-21 campaign for manager Alex Neil, playing 1,691 minutes with the team conceding 23 goals in his 19 second-tier appearances. Celtic were reportedly interested with his contract winding down - then Liverpool suddenly came calling and his future plans changed overnight.  

While set to line up in the same position his responsibilities will change markedly for Liverpool, where playing centre-back is about more than just heading the ball clear and getting in the way to block shots. You are expected to perform those tasks, of course, but also help build attacks from the back in a possession-based system that gives licence for those defenders positioned next to you on the flanks to roam forwards.  

Davies has averaged 39.7 passes per game for Preston this term, boasting a completion rate of 79 per cent. Against West Ham on Sunday, the centre-back pairing Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Phillips made 92 and 76 respectively for the Reds. He, along with fellow new addition Ozan Kabak, will have to quickly learn how to play for the ever-demanding Klopp. 

"We play differently to Preston and Schalke so they'll need time but we don't have a lot, so we'll use the time we have in our hands and try our best," the German coach told the media.

After the surreal experience of signing for Liverpool, reality is about to kick in. Still, while no longer that same skinny kid seen at York, that season plying his trade in the fourth tier demonstrated how Davies is capable of adapting.

Liverpool's need for defensive reinforcements was always likely to dominate the headlines on transfer deadline day and so it proved as the Premier League champions made two late signings.

Centre-back Ben Davies arrived from Preston North End, while Liverpool made a further addition to the heart of their backline with the loan signing of Ozan Kabak from Bundesliga strugglers Schalke until the end of the season.

Those signings came on a day that saw Joel Matip ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees and Liverpool were forced to play Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Phillips at centre-back in Sunday's win at West Ham.

Heading for the Anfield exit door is Takumi Minamino, the forward moving to Southampton on a six-month loan deal having only joined Liverpool last January.

It came after Southampton loaned veteran Shane Long to promotion-chasing Championship side Bournemouth.

Bournemouth also sanctioned the departure of Joshua King to Everton for a nominal fee until the end of the season.

There were outgoings at Arsenal as well, with Shkodran Mustafi signing for Schalke on a short-term deal and Joe Willock going on loan to Newcastle United, who let DeAndre Yedlin leave for Galatasaray.

Arsenal also sent Ainsley Maitland-Niles to West Brom on loan.

Turkish giants Galatasaray acquired Gedson Fernandes on a temporary deal from Benfica following an unsuccessful stint at Tottenham.

In Serie A, Parma landed Bayern Munich's teenage forward Joshua Zirkzee in a loan deal that contains the option to sign the 19-year-old permanently.

Atalanta are firmly in contention for a top-four finish in Serie A and bolstered their ranks for that push with the capture of Ukraine midfielder Viktor Kovalenko from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Roma can afford to have hopes of a title challenge and brought in teenage full-back Bryan Reynolds from MLS outfit Dallas on an initial loan deal, with an obligation to buy, to help them.

Frozen out at Juventus, midfielder Sami Khedira is back in the Bundesliga following a switch to Hertha Berlin, but one of European football's most exciting talents is heading to Italy after Udinese signed Jayden Braaf on loan from Manchester City with an option to buy.

Elsewhere, Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny joined Celtic on loan for the rest of the season, Brighton and Hove Albion signed highly rated midfielder Moises Caicedo from Independiente del Valle, West Brom loaned Okay Yokuslu from Celta Vigo and defender Teden Mengi moved from Manchester United to Wayne Rooney's Derby County on a temporary basis.

Jurgen Klopp is excited by Ben Davies' potential following his surprise switch from Preston North End, but concedes the move only happened due to Liverpool's injury problems in the centre of defence. 

Davies joined the Premier League champions on Monday in a long-term deal reportedly worth £1.6million.

The 25-year-old made his Preston debut in January 2013 before spending time on loan at York City, Tranmere Rovers, Southport, Newport County and Fleetwood Town. 

His arrival goes some way to resolving the Reds' issues in the heart of defence. 

Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees, while converted midfielder Fabinho and Joel Matip are struggling with injuries.

That led to Jordan Henderson and the inexperienced Nat Phillips pairing up at the back for Sunday's 3-1 win over West Ham.

While Klopp admits there is an element of good fortune for Davies that Liverpool came calling, the German does believe he has signed a "quality" player.

"What I like about Ben is it just shows that each situation creates opportunities," the German told Liverpool's official website. 

"I think it's probably clear that in a normal transfer window, without any issues, we would not look at Preston to see if there's a player for us or something like that. It's not really likely. 

"But since we saw him and since our situation got clearer and clearer – the problems we had – when we saw him we got really excited about it and thought: 'Wow.' 

"We see the potential really. We see the quality and we see the potential as well because he's 25 and there's a lot to come for him.

"I love a lot about his play. He's a really good footballer, looks like a proper leader in this Preston team, good in challenges, looks football smart, can play different positions because he played in a back three and a back four and all these things. 

"That makes him really interesting so I'm really looking forward to working with him. I know for him it's an opportunity and I see it exactly the same for us, that it's a really good thing to do."

Premier League champions Liverpool have signed centre-back Ben Davies from Preston North End for a deal reportedly worth £1.6million.

The 25-year-old has signed a long-term contract with Jurgen Klopp's side and could make his debut against Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday. 

Davies made his Preston debut in January 2013 before spending time on loan at York City, Tranmere Rovers, Southport, Newport County and Fleetwood Town. 

He cemented his place in the Lilywhites' first team during the 2017-18 campaign, making 35 appearances across all competitions. 

Davies went on to make a further 98 appearances for Alex Neil's side, 19 of which came this season. 

"I'm obviously delighted to be here," he told Liverpool's official website. "It's a huge opportunity.

"Obviously it came as a bit of a surprise when it first came but once you start to get your head around it, the opportunity that is in front of me is incredible. I’d be silly to not make the most of it and learn off the players [at the club].

"I've never actually been to Anfield and I haven't had a look around yet. I haven't actually walked out of the tunnel yet, so I'm looking forward to that. Just to be in this kind of atmosphere is brilliant."

Davies' arrival at Anfield gives Klopp's some much-needed cover in the centre of defence. 

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees and Fabinho and Joel Matip struggling with injuries, Jordan Henderson and the inexperienced Nat Phillips were the centre-back pairing for Sunday's 3-1 win over West Ham.

"I want to come in and play games to start with," he added. "I want to get my foot in the door and make myself a Premier League player rather than a Championship player, and then take it from there really.

"I know we've got some top players here and players I can certainly learn from. Once you get your foot in the door then you’re here as well. Hopefully I can take my chance and then move forward with it.

"I'm looking forward to coming in and playing in front of everyone and showing everyone what I can do. I'm sure a lot of fans and people don't know [me], or haven't even seen me play.

"It's definitely an exciting time and I think they'll quite enjoy watching me when I'm playing well."

Premier League champions Liverpool have signed centre-back Ben Davies from Preston North End for a deal reportedly worth £1.6million.

The 25-year-old has signed a long-term contract with Jurgen Klopp's side and could make his debut against Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday. 

Davies made his Preston debut in January 2013 before spending time on loan at York City, Tranmere Rovers, Southport, Newport County and Fleetwood Town. 

He cemented his place in the Lilywhites' first team during the 2017-18 campaign, making 35 appearances across all competitions. 

He went on to make a further 98 appearances for Alex Neil's side, 19 of which have come this season. 

Davies' arrival at Anfield gives Klopp's side some much-needed cover in the heart of defence. 

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees and Fabinho and Joel Matip struggling with injuries, Jordan Henderson and the inexperienced Nat Phillips were the centre-back pairing for Sunday's 3-1 win over West Ham.

 

Will he stay or will he go?

That is the question regarding Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, who is a reported target for Real Madrid and Liverpool.

If Mbappe opts to call time on his PSG stall, the French champions are still aiming high.

 

TOP STORY – LIFE WITHOUT MBAPPE IN PARIS?

Paris Saint-Germain are more determined than ever to give head coach Mauricio Pochettino a dream forward line amid doubts over Kylian Mabppe's future, according to Le10 Sport.

Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has been heavily linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid and Premier League holders Liverpool.

If Mbappe does not remain in Paris, PSG will step up their pursuit of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

Massimiliano Allegri has turned down Roma as he waits for Madrid, repots Todofichajes. Zinedine Zidane is under mounting pressure in the Spanish capital, while it is a similar situation for Roma boss Paulo Fonseca.

Manchester City are willing to sign a striker and Messi this offseason, according to The Athletic. With City yet to offer Sergio Aguero a new deal, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Inter pair Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku are reported targets as Pep Guardiola's side also eye soon-to-be free agent Messi.

- Fabrizio Romano says Liverpool have agreed to sign Ben Davies from Preston North End ahead of Monday's deadline day. Jurgen Klopp has been eyeing a defender due to the club's injury crisis.

Dele Alli's proposed switch from Tottenham to PSG is not progressing, reports Romano. Struggling for game time at Spurs, Alli has been keen for a loan move to PSG, but Tottenham are unwilling to sanction a departure as Inter block Christian Eriksen's return.

Leicester City are the frontrunners to sign Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles, claims The Mirror.

England World Cup winner and former Manchester United player Nobby Stiles has died at the age of 78.

Stiles' family confirmed that the one-time midfielder passed away peacefully on Friday after a long illness.

Manchester-born Stiles earned 28 caps for England and was a big part of the squad that won the World Cup in 1966.

Two years later, he was part of the United side that became the first English club to win the European Cup.

He made almost 400 appearances for United in all competitions across an 11-year spell at Old Trafford and went on to play for Middlesbrough and Preston North End, before hanging up his boots in 1975.

A statement from United read: "We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Nobby Stiles MBE.

"An integral part of our first-ever European Cup-winning side, Nobby was a titan of the club's history, cherished for his heart and personality on and off the pitch. He will be sorely missed by us all."

The England national team Twitter account posted: "We're incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Nobby Stiles, a key member of our World Cup-winning squad, at the age of 78. All of our thoughts are with Nobby's loved ones."

Former England striker Gary Lineker was also among those to pay tribute to Stiles on social media, tweeting: "Saddened to hear that Nobby Stiles has passed away.

"Another of our 1966 World Cup winning heroes leaves us. He had a heart that was even bigger than the gap in his teeth. RIP Nobby."

Bournemouth will start life back in the Championship at home to Blackburn Rovers, while Watford host Middlesbrough and Norwich City travel to Huddersfield Town.

The Cherries were relegated after a five-year stay in the Premier League, while Watford and Norwich were also demoted in a top-flight campaign that was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

That halt means the new Championship season starts on September 12, with beaten play-off finalists Brentford travelling to Birmingham City on the opening day, while south Wales rivals Cardiff City and Swansea City – who also made the top six – host Sheffield Wednesday and visit Preston North End respectively.

Wycombe Wanderers – playing in the second tier for the first time – welcome fellow new boys Rotherham United for their first game, while Coventry City's return to the Championship starts with a trip to Bristol City.

Derby County and Barnsley start at home against Reading and Luton Town, with Stoke City and Nottingham Forest heading to London to face Millwall and QPR.

Bournemouth host Norwich in the third round of matches, the same weekend Watford renew acquaintances with fierce rivals Luton. Watford and the Canaries face off at Vicarage Road on December 26.

The three relegated teams will hope to be in the promotion hunt come the final day on May 8, with Bournemouth and Watford at home to Stoke and Swansea, while Norwich go to Barnsley.

West Brom clinched the second automatic promotion place in the Championship on a dramatic final day of the season as Wigan Athletic's spirited survival bid failed.

After both West Brom and Brentford were beaten at the weekend, the Baggies only needed to match the third-placed side's result to seal a return to the Premier League after two seasons away in England's second tier.

A seemingly straightforward home fixture against QPR did not go entirely to plan for West Brom, but a 2-2 draw took them up as Brentford went down 2-1 to Barnsley on Wednesday.

That result saw Barnsley stay up, but Wigan could not join them as they drew 1-1 with Fulham – who could have been promoted with a win – and went down due to a looming 12-point deduction.

Charlton Athletic and Hull City were also demoted, while there was a similarly chaotic finish in the play-off race.

BAGGIES BEST BRENTFORD

Both West Brom and Brentford lost their nerve with two matches of the campaign remaining, but a return of just a single point from a pair of games proved enough for Slaven Bilic's team.

Following Friday's defeat to Huddersfield Town, West Brom were boosted by Brentford's own reverse at Stoke City yet could not beat QPR.

West Brom trailed to Ryan Manning's strike before turning the match on its head with goals either side of half-time through Grady Diangana and Callum Robinson, only for Eberechi Eze to equalise just past the hour-mark.

It mattered not, though, as Brentford failed to capitalise, instead losing again.

Josh Dasilva cancelled out Callum Styles' Barnsley opener, but as Brentford pushed for a precious winner, Clarke Oduor tapped in at the other end in the 91st minute.

BRAVE BARNSLEY, WIGAN WOE

There were contrasting scenes at full-time in the final regular league match at Griffin Park after Barnsley celebrated as Brentford collapsed.

The visitors were heading down until Oduor struck but stayed up at Charlton's expense, the Addicks going down 4-0 at champions Leeds United.

Hull propped up the table after a 3-0 defeat at Cardiff City, while Luton Town stayed up thanks to a rallying 3-2 success at home to Blackburn Rovers, aided by two own goals.

Wigan needed to win due to their deduction following administration, but one of the form teams in the division let a lead slip against Fulham, their total of 59 points bumped down to 47 to fall a painful point short.

 

It isn't just a game of football, it's absolutely everything to our players, staff and supporters.

Hold your heads high!#wafc pic.twitter.com/5oTj7eV4jV

— Wigan Athletic (@LaticsOfficial) July 22, 2020
SWANS SAVOUR GOAL SWING

With rivals Cardiff comfortable in claiming their play-off place, Swansea City needed to beat 10-man Reading while Nottingham Forest lost to Stoke City, along with a five-goal swing.

Improbably, the Swans stole sixth place from Forest after a remarkable finale.

The Welsh side won 4-1, netting their fourth in the 91st minute as Wayne Routledge headed in his second.

That scoreline left Forest – 3-1 down at home to Stoke at the time – needing to score, but instead they conceded, their promotion bid derailing in spectacular fashion as Nuno da Costa stabbed into his own net in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

The 4-1 defeat meant Forest – without a win since July 1 – finished seventh.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Derby County, Millwall and Middlesbrough, bringing the curtain down on another season in gripping fashion.

Fulham remain in the hunt for second place in the Championship after downing Sheffield Wednesday 5-3 on Saturday.

With Brentford having lost 1-0 at Stoke City earlier, thereby crowning Leeds United champions, Fulham responded to move within a point of the top two thanks to two goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Cardiff City swept aside Middlesbrough to keep their play-off ambitions in their own hands, with Preston and Millwall now unable to finish in the top six.

At the other end of the table, Stoke's victory sealed their survival, while Kazenga LuaLua struck a huge late blow for Luton Town at Hull City and Charlton Athletic snatched an important point.

FULHAM POUNCE AS BRENTFORD FALTER

Lee Gregory's first-half finish from close range gave Stoke a 1-0 win over Brentford at the bet365 Stadium that ensured their Championship survival and denied the visitors the chance to go second.

Fulham are now just a point behind Brentford in the table after beating Wednesday 5-3 and, with West Brom only two above them, the Cottagers will be ready to capitalise on any slip-ups on the final day.

Mitrovic and Neeskens Kebano scored twice at Craven Cottage before Bobby Reid's late fifth, with Jacob Murphy and Atdhe Nuhiu (2) on target for Wednesday, who cannot yet consider themselves safe given the risk of a possible EFL points deduction.

 

BONNE CHANCE FOR LUTON AND CHARLTON

In Saturday's relegation showdown between Hull and Luton, it was the visitors who left the KCOM Stadium feeling hopeful of survival after LuaLua fired home the winner in the 85th minute.

Luton are now on 48 points, level with Charlton, who were trailing 2-1 to Wigan Athletic until Macauley Bonne equalised on exactly 92 minutes.

Hull are three points behind and, given they are 16 goals worse off than Charlton, they look destined for League One barring possible points penalties for either Wednesday or Wigan. Bottom-club Barnsley, with two games left, can still stay up.

CARDIFF WIN ENDS PRESTON, MILLWALL HOPES

Two goals from Josh Murphy helped Cardiff to a 3-1 win at Middlesbrough, whose survival could now depend on getting a result on Wednesday, at Wednesday.

Cardiff stay sixth, three points ahead of Swansea City, whose 1-0 win over Bristol City keeps their play-off hopes alive ahead of the final day.

Preston cannot now make the top six, despite beating Birmingham City 2-0 - another side who are not yet guaranteed to avoid the drop - while Millwall are also out of play-off contention following Cardiff's win and their own thrilling 4-3 defeat at QPR.

That was not the day's only seven-goal game: at Ewood Park, Sam Gallagher's 87th-minute header gave Blackburn Rovers a 4-3 win over Reading that lifted them into the top 10.

Brentford moved to within a point of the Championship's top two and delayed any promotion party Leeds United may have had planned by beating Preston North End.

After high-flying rivals West Brom and Fulham drew on Tuesday, Brentford capitalised with a 1-0 win at Griffin Park a day later.

An eighth successive victory – of which seven have come since the season's restart – piled the pressure on second-placed West Brom and ensured Leeds cannot seal a Premier League return when they play on Thursday.

Elsewhere there were a trio of draws, most notably at Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City, where the respective hosts each picked up precious points, holding Swansea City and Charlton Athletic.


AUTOMATIC RACE GOING TO THE WIRE

Leeds host rock-bottom Barnsley but now need four points to guarantee promotion, meaning they will be made to wait a little longer regardless of the outcome at Elland Road.

Although West Brom have been in the top two for much of the season, Brentford's outstanding run of form means it is still all to play for in the final two matches of the campaign.

The Bees' latest win came by just a single early goal as Ollie Watkins lashed in after four minutes following good work from Emiliano Marcondes in the build-up.

They held on and will now be keen spectators when the Baggies visit Huddersfield Town on Friday, with the Thomas Frank side next in action against Stoke City the following day.
 

SAMMY STUNNERS STUNT SWANS

The battle to make the play-offs is almost as tense as the tussle at the top, but fifth-placed Forest – five points clear of seventh – should be involved.

They were grateful to Sammy Ameobi for a pair of wonderful goals as they twice came from behind to draw at home to Swansea.

Rhian Brewster's fine first-time finish gave Swansea the lead, before Ameobi picked out the top-right corner with a gorgeous curling effort from outside the area.

The Swans were back in front heading into half-time after Andre Ayew's penalty, yet Ameobi was not done and cut in from the right to arrow a low shot into the bottom-right corner.

The travelling side could not regain the lead for a third time and now face a tough ask to overhaul rivals Cardiff City, who are sixth and three points better off.
 

LATE LEVELLER LEAVES CHARLTON IN TROUBLE

Charlton appeared set to move four points clear of the relegation zone when they led Birmingham deep into stoppage time.

Macauley Bonne's second-half strike followed a missed penalty for Scott Hogan, meaning Charlton would leapfrog their opponents in the table.

But Birmingham's own survival bid was all but completed in the 93rd minute as Lukas Jutkiewicz equalised.

The Blues are joined on 50 points by Stoke, who should also be safe after similarly recovering from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Bristol City.

Danny Batth stooped to head in after Filip Benkovic's deflected opener.

West Brom went top of the Championship on Wednesday, while Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough gained key wins at the other end of the table.

The Baggies moved above Leeds United, and went five points clear of third-placed Brentford, with a 2-0 victory over Derby County, who saw their play-off hopes dented by the loss.

Grady Diangana and Dara O'Shea scored in either half for West Brom before Rams youngster Louie Sibley was harshly sent off in stoppage time for violent conduct.

Derby slipped below Swansea City, who went up to seventh courtesy of a 3-1 win at Birmingham City, with Liverpool loanee Rhian Brewster taking his tally to eight goals in 16 Championship games.

Middlesbrough won for the second time in four games since Neil Warnock was appointed as manager, Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher on target in a 2-0 success at Millwall.

Wigan, who could yet incur a 12-point penalty having gone into administration last week, climbed eight points away clear of danger for now thanks to Kieffer Moore's first-half strike in a 1-0 victory over QPR.

Elsewhere, Bristol City beat Hull City - who are in the relegation zone - 2-1 and Preston North End came from behind to defeat Sheffield Wednesday 3-1.

Leeds United moved another step closer to automatic promotion from the Championship with a 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. 

Marcelo Bielsa's side have been inconsistent since last month's restart but saw off Blackburn to remain six points clear of third-placed Brentford. 

West Brom, who sit in second, are not in action until Sunday and in-form Brentford took full advantage by closing the gap to two points with a convincing 3-0 win against Wigan Athletic. 

Stoke City were also big winners in Saturday's second-tier fixtures, thrashing fellow strugglers Barnsley 4-0 to climb out of the relegation zone and into 18th place. 

Cardiff City, Reading and Fulham picked up valuable victories of their own, while two other matches - including the east Midlands derby - finished level. 


TOP-FLIGHT RETURN IN SIGHT FOR LEEDS

Leeds had collected four points from nine since resuming their campaign, but there is surely no stopping them from ending their 16-year wait for top-flight promotion. 

Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips put Leeds two goals ahead and while Adam Armstrong scored a free-kick early in the second period, Mateusz Klich made sure of the points. 

West Brom play their game in hand against Hull City on Sunday and now have a four-point gap to make up on Leeds, though holding down second place could become their main priority. 

Brentford have now won five in a row after Said Benrahma helped himself to a hat-trick against Wigan, who had Joe Garner sent off late on. 

PROMOTION BATTLE HEATING UP

Derby County and Nottingham Forest played out a 1-1 draw in the early kick-off - Chris Martin scoring in the 97th minute to cancel out Joe Lolley's goal. 

Cardiff saw a number of promising chances go begging against Bristol City before Lee Tomlin played in fellow substitute Danny Ward to snatch a 1-0 win. 

As well as earning bragging rights for Cardiff, Ward's clinical strike five minutes from the end also opens up a three-point buffer on seventh-in-the-table Derby. 

Fulham also needed a late goal to overcome Birmingham City at Craven Cottage, Josh Onomah popping up deep into added time to prolong the visitors' bad run of form. 

STOKE STEER CLEAR OF DANGER

Stoke entered their match with Barnsley sitting just above their opponents in the relegation zone. By the final whistle, they had risen clear of the drop zone. 

Tyrese Campbell struck twice while a goal apiece for Sam Vokes and Tom Ince resulted in a crushing win at the bet365 Stadium. 

Luton Town were unable to give their own survival hopes a much-needed boost as they went down 5-0 at home to Reading, a result that leaves them five points from safety. 

Yakou Meite was the hero for Reading, netting four of their goals - including an 18-minute hat-trick before half-time - while George Puscas was also on target for the visitors. 

Meanwhile, Huddersfield Town played out a goalless stalemate with a Preston North End side now winless in six matches.

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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