Sunderland have won the League One play-offs at the third time of asking, beating Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley to end their four-year spell in England’s third tier.
Wembley was deafening as 46,000 Sunderland and 22,000 Wycombe fans roared their sides on in the hopes their team would join already-promoted Rotherham United and Wigan Athletic in the Championship.
Just one point separated the Chairboys and the Black Cats going into the decisive clash, with their last meeting in the league ending 3-3 in a tight game at Adam’s Park.
Both managers Gareth Ainsworth and Alex Neil have achieved promotions at Wembley previously, the former doing so with Wycombe in 2020 and the latter achieving it with Norwich City in 2015.
The tie also marked the first use of VAR in a League One play-off final, leaving plenty of room for some twists in the play-off tale.
The Mackems came out the traps almost instantly, with Pritchard’s free-kick narrowly curling past goal.
And soon enough, Sunderland’s early dominance paid off.
Sunderland academy graduate Elliot Embleton charged down the centre of the pitch to smash the ball in from outside the box.
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The 23-year-old’s effort went straight through Wycombe keeper David Stockdale, who was uncharacteristically caught like a rabbit in headlights as the youngster came towards him.
Sunderland keeper Anthony Patterson stayed relatively unbothered throughout the first-half, making a hand full of comfortable saves as Wycombe tried to burst free of their own half.
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