Sky Bet Championship round-up: Leeds thrash Fulham to go top and Neil Warnock makes perfect start at Middlesbrough

Jack Harrison celebrate among Elland Road's cardboard cut-out fans after scoring Leeds' third goal against Fulham

Leeds thrashed Fulham to go top of the Sky Bet Championship and Neil Warnock made an instant impact as Middlesbrough boss as they won at Stoke.

Sky Bet Championship

*Highlights to appear on this page from Sunday*

Impressive Leeds back on top

Leeds celebrate after Patrick Bamford's goal against Fulham at Elland Road
  • Leeds 3-0 Fulham

Leeds returned to the top with an emphatic 3-0 home win against promotion rivals Fulham.

Patrick Bamford gave Marcelo Bielsa’s side an early lead and although they spent most of the first period defending, second-half goals from substitute Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Harrison lifted them three points clear of West Brom.

Fulham, who were aiming to close the gap on Leeds to four points in the race for a top-two finish, outplayed them in the first 45 minutes, but had no answer to their pace and precision after the break.

Bielsa’s double half-time substitution of Alioski and Pablo Hernandez proved a master stroke, with both players instrumental as Leeds seized back the initiative from the Londoners to take another big step towards the Premier League.

Fulham’s 23-goal striker Aleksandar Mitrovic was lucky to escape without so much as a booking after an elbow on Leeds defender Ben White in the second minute, which was missed by the match officials.

But substitute Neeskens Kebano was sent off in stoppage time for his trip on Luke Ayling, which was his second yellow card offence.

Warnock makes instant Boro impact

Middlesbrough won at Stoke in their first game under Neil Warnock
  • Stoke 0-2 Middlesbrough

Neil Warnock enjoyed a perfect return to management as Middlesbrough swept aside fellow strugglers Stoke.

The evergreen Warnock – rapidly approaching 1,500 games as a manager – watched on as a goal in each half, from Ashley Fletcher and Marcus Tavernier, helped lift Boro above the Potters in the table and eased them two points clear of the drop zone.

A second win in 13 games was thoroughly deserved in the first match since Jonathan Woodgate’s sacking, while Stoke are now just a single point above the bottom three.

Their five-match unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt on what was a definite off-day for them, with Nick Powell sent off late on.

Hull blow it at Birmingham

  • Birmingham 3-3 Hull

Gary Gardner scored twice to rescue a point for Birmingham and deny Hull a first win since New Year's Day after the visitors led twice in a 3-3 draw at St Andrew’s.

Gardner headed home in the 88th minute to equalise after on-loan Liverpool midfielder Herbie Kane curled a free-kick under the defensive wall to restore Hull’s advantage in the 67th.

Josh Magennis and James Scott had fired Hull into a 2-0 lead by the 16th minute, before Gardner pulled one back and Dan Crowley equalised after the break.

Kane nudged Hull in front once again but Gardner’s second effort means Hull are now winless in 13 Sky Bet Championship games.

Wigan strike late to beat Blackburn

  • Wigan 2-0 Blackburn

In-form Wigan moved five points clear of the relegation zone after late efforts from substitutes Lee Evans and Michael Jacobs earned them a 2-0 home win over Blackburn.

Evans fired in off the bar from close range in the 80th minute after Rovers goalkeeper Christian Walton failed to claim a cross from Antonee Robinson, and Jacobs then slotted home in stoppage time.

The result sees 17th-placed Wigan’s unbeaten run extend to an eighth game as they made it back-to-back wins since the resumption.

Blackburn, meanwhile, drop a place to ninth and are now outside the play-off berths by four points.

Rooney scores as Derby win again

Wayne Rooney: Derby ace celebrates after scoring a penalty against Reading in the Sky Bet Championship
  • Derby 2-1 Reading

Derby maintained their late charge for the play-offs with a 2-1 victory against Reading at Pride Park.

A quick-fire double late in the first half from Tom Lawrence and Wayne Rooney, scoring his fifth goal for the club from the penalty spot, in truth flattered the hosts at the break as Reading had created the better chances and hit a post through Ovie Ejaria.

Andy Rinomhota’s header after 62 minutes saw the Royals pull a goal back, but Derby made it two wins from their two matches since the resumption.

Both sides had a player sent off after the final whistle as Lawrence and Matt Miazga were shown red cards following a confrontation.

It was a fourth successive league victory either side of the lockdown and moved Phillip Cocu’s side up to eighth in the table, although they stay three points outside the play-off places.

Draw send Barnsley bottom

  • Barnsley 0-0 Millwall

Barnsley slipped to the foot of the table after a goalless draw with Millwall that did little to help their survival chances.

The Reds breathed fresh life into their designs on avoiding relegation with a 1-0 win at QPR last week, but they could not follow that up on home soil and now prop up the rest of the division after Luton won at Swansea.

They bossed the second half but could not find a breakthrough and are three points from safety going into Saturday’s later games.

Millwall might also see it as a missed opportunity to enhance their play-off ambitions as they sit five points off sixth-placed Cardiff.

Cardiff push on for play-offs

Joe Ralls: Midfielder celebrates with Cardiff team-mates after scoring against Preston in the Sky Bet Championship
  • Preston 1-3 Cardiff

Cardiff struck three times in the final 21 minutes to win their Sky Bet Championship play-off battle with Preston 3-1 at a rain-lashed Deepdale.

A drab contest played out in ferocious showers burst into life when Joe Ralls broke the deadlock with a far-post header in the 69th minute.

Daniel Johnson quickly equalised but Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Robert Glatzel struck late on to lift the Bluebirds above Preston and into the top six.

Jones' first win since Luton return

James Collins: Luton forward celebrates his goal against Swansea in the Sky Bet Championship
  • Swansea 0-1 Luton

Luton saw their hopes of Sky Bet Championship survival improve with a shock 1-0 victory at 10-man Swansea thanks to a second-half header from striker James Collins.

Nathan Jones’ side travelled to south Wales bottom of the table, but they did not play like relegation candidates as they had the better of a poor first half.

Swansea were far from their best and Collins made them pay in the second half as he settled what was a game of few chances.

Jordon Garrick was sent off in the 83rd minute for Swansea for a punch, capping an afternoon to forget for their head coach Steve Cooper.

Bowyer's Charlton boost survival hopes with back-to-back wins

  • Charlton 1-0 QPR

Charlton boosted their Sky Bet Championship survival hopes with a hard-fought victory over QPR at the Valley.

Darren Pratley’s 12th-minute header proved the difference between the London rivals to give the Addicks a second consecutive 1-0 win since the resumption of football.

It moved Lee Bowyer’s team onto 45 points, but QPR endured a frustrating afternoon for the second Saturday in succession.

Post-match Opta facts

  • Jack Harrison has been directly involved in 14 goals in the Championship this season (6 goals & 8 assists), exactly twice as many goal involvements as he managed last season for the Whites (inc. play-offs).
  • Wayne Rooney has six goals and two assists in his last five games against Reading in all competitions, scoring at least once in each match.
  • Luton have accrued 15 points from their last eight games (W4 D3 L1), one point more than they picked up from their previous 22 Championship matches.
  • Brentford have now won 19 games in the Championship this season – more than they managed in any of their previous three seasons (2016-17: 18, 2017-18: 18, 2018-19: 17).
  • Neil Warnock is unbeaten in his first game in charge at each of his last eight Football League clubs (W5 D3).
  • Middlesbrough have won three league matches in a row against Stoke City for the first time since September 1946.
  • Gary Gardner scored the first league brace of his career is what was his 201st such appearance.
  • No Championship team have won more points than Wigan Athletic in 2020 (27 points – 8 wins, 3 draws).
  • Nathaniel Mendez-Laing has been involved in six goals in the Championship this season for Cardiff City (3 goals, 3 assists) – one more than he managed last season (4 goals, 1 assist).
  • Charlton Athletic have won successive league games for the first time since August 2019.

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