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What’s the best goal ever scored in the Championship Play-Off final?

Drew Goodsell | 3 August 2020

We cast our eyes over some of the most memorable play-off final goals from years gone by

With just one place left to fight for in the Premier League, Brentford take on Fulham in Tuesday night’s Championship Play-Off final in what’s known as the ‘world’s richest game’.

And with everything on the line, it’s a game which has seen so many big moments over the years including some stunning goals. Could we be in line to see another?

We’ve seen far more than we’ve got room to include, so we’ve got to give some honourable mentions to Clive Mendonca, Mo Diame, Steve Claridge and Nick Wright to name a few.

Ahead of this year’s showpiece under the famous Wembley arch, we’ve looked back at our top four picks from final’s gone by.

David Hopkin (1997, v Sheffield United)

After seeing off Wolves and Ipswich Town in the semi-finals, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United fought for the final place in the 1997/98 Premier League at the old Wembley Stadium.

With the game seemingly heading to extra-time, and the prospect of penalties looming large after a mostly uneventful 89 minutes, Palace had one final chance, winning a corner.

Andy Roberts played it short to Simon Rodger, but his left-footed cross was cleared away by Blades centre-back Carl Tiler only as far as Eagles captain David Hopkin.

Allowing the ball to drop, his first touch with his left foot controlled the ball, bringing it across his body onto his right, before a curling the ball into the top corner from outside the box.

The Palace player of the year sealed their return to the top flight, although that would prove to be his last touch for the club as he moved to Leeds United.

Dean Windass (2008, v Bristol City)

Dean Windass Hull City

In 2008, Hull City were on the verge of something they’d never managed in their history, with only Bristol City in their way of a place in the Premier League.

The Robins had been on top for most of the first half, with Nick Carle going closest, before Hull grew into the game.

With the game crying out for one moment of pure brilliance, it was hometown hero Dean Windass who stepped up to provide it.

Fraizer Campbell, on loan from Manchester United, picked the ball up on the edge of the Bristol City area, skipping away from three on his way to the byline before dinking a ball over to Windass.

With the 39-year-old motionless on the edge of the box, Windass took one step back before hitting the ball on the volley, flying to the keepers left into the back of the net. It would remain the only goal of the game, sealing the Tigers’ Premier League spot for the first time in their history.

Wade Elliott (2009, v Sheffield United)

In yet another final which was decided by a single goal, Burnley returned to the top tier of English football with a 1-0 win over Sheffield United.

There were chances aplenty in the game, with nine shots on target for the Blades and five for Burnley.

But it was Wade Elliott who took his opportunity, scoring early on to take the Clarets back up. The Burnley winger picked the ball up in his own half before skipping past three Sheffield United players on his way to the edge of the box.

Elliott lays the ball off to Chris McCann, who’s challenged inside the box before the ball rolls back out to Elliott, who hits a first-time curling shot with his right foot into the top corner.

Charlie Adam (2010, v Cardiff City)

Charlie Adam Blackpool

The only goal on our shortlist that can’t be called a match winner, from the only game which provided more than one goal.

Cardiff City led in the 2010 play-off final thanks to Michael Chopra’s ninth minute strike, a lead which didn’t last long.

Just four minutes later, Charlie Adam lined up a free kick just outside the Cardiff City box and whipped a left-footed strike into the top corner.

Those goals started a frantic first half which saw five goals, with Blackpool 3-2 up after 45 minutes, a score which would remain the same and seal Blackpool’s place in the top flight.

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