Diame strike takes Tigers back into top-flight as Owls flop in play-off final
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 28, 2016
Hull City 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday
- Westwood makes string of fine saves as Bruce’s boys dominate
- Diame hits post for Hull, but nets stunning second-half winner
- Wednesday wait for Premier League football goes on
- Tigers promoted back to top-flight at first time of asking
Tigers taste second play-off promotion in eight years
Mohamed Diame’s memorable strike ensured Hull City made an immediate return to the Premier League, winning the Championship play-off final at Wembley against Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
The Tigers showed attacking teeth throughout, but found Owls keeper and man of the match Keiren Westwood in inspired form, and it took a moment of top-flight quality from Diame to decide this White Rose derby decamped to London.
Steve Bruce follows up on his 2002 play-off triumph in Cardiff with Birmingham City, and his Premier League calibre squad shined through in the end, although the Humberside outfit are evens with Coral to suffer relegation next term.
Hull ran Wednesday ragged around the Wembley pitch with wide player Moses Odubajo using his legs to great effect, while Diame oozed class in an attacking midfield role.
Evoking an equally stunning goal from Dean Windass (which you can relive above) in this game back in 2008, who watched from the stands, Diame’s display demonstrated why he was once linked with Arsenal.
First-half almost all Hull
Tom Huddlestone stung the palms of Westwood from long-range inside three minutes, after good work from adventurous Tigers full back Odubajo down the right.
Fernando Forestieri forced Hull stand-in stopper Eldin Jakupovic to fist over from a free-kick, following a poor foul from Michael Dawson. The Owls’ Italian forward also drew another punching save from the Swiss keeper from a dead-ball.
Just before the half-hour, Wednesday utility man Kieran Lee had to clear off the line as Abel Hernandez’s free header from a corner came in. Dawson’s rebound appeared to hit the same player’s hand, but there were only muted penalty appeals from the Tigers.
Westwood then bailed out his defence, who failed to cut out Diame’s through-ball that found its way through to Hernandez, preventing the Uruguay frontman from toe-poking home. The Owls goalie spread himself superbly and used his body to deflect this effort over.
Hull went close yet again before half-time with Diame hitting the post from a tightening angle, after skillfully dribbling into the box. Westwood also came smartly off his line to thwart Odubajo, when slipped in down the opposite channel by Ahmed Elmohamady.
Deadly Diame delivers
This dominant Tigers pattern of play continued after the break, as wonderful Westwood bravely blocked from Dawson at point-blank range when the Owls didn’t deal with the second ball from a corner.
Scotland left back Andrew Robertson then missed a gaping goal before the hour mark when found by Odubajo as Hull broke with real swiftness. With 20 minutes to go, Bruce’s boys finally broke down Wednesday resistance in spectacular fashion.
Hernandez’s diagonal run took away a defender, Robert Snodgrass played a simple pass into Diame and the Senegal midfielder swerved a wicked strike into the roof of the net, with Westwood seeing it too late and only able to get a deft hand on this rocket of a shot.
The Sheffield side shouted for a penalty deep into stoppage time, but sub Jeremy Helan blasted the ball against Dawson’s arm from the most minimal of range and there was nothing doing from the referee.
Carlos Carvalhal’s Owls didn’t give a great account of themselves here on the hallowed turf of Wembley, so their 16-year exile from the Premier League continues, but the Portuguese coach gave the Hillsborough faithful reason to believe again. Wednesday are 9/2 chances to be promoted in 2016/17.
What this play-off final came down to was the Tigers squad contains Premier League players and the Owls retain remnants from their humbling spell in the third tier.
You’ll find more Championship content from another compelling season on our dedicated page.