Sheffield United seal promotion back to Premier League at raucous Bramall Lane

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SANDER BERGE delivered the body blow and Anel Ahmedhodzic landed the knockout — as Sheffield United finally clinched promotion back to the Premier League.

After getting through this latest Championship bout at Bramall Lane, the Blades can now start preparing to step up to heavyweight.

Sheffield United are back in the big time after being promoted back to the Prem


Sheffield United are back in the big time after being promoted back to the PremCredit: REX
Paul Heckingbottom's Blades were buzzing after the final whistle


Paul Heckingbottom’s Blades were buzzing after the final whistleCredit: REX
Sander Berge scored the opening goal of the match


Sander Berge scored the opening goal of the matchCredit: ALAMY

They got a taste of what to expect when they lost to Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

And there is no doubt they will get beaten up by some of the big beasts next season.

But last night they showed once more that when they are up against the ropes, they come out fighting and get through with grit, determination, sheer bloody-mindedness — and finally some quality.

They were not laying a glove on West Brom and had the judges been scoring this on points at half-time, Paul Heckingbottom’s side were done for.

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But, as they so often have done this season, they found a way to up the gears and win.

It was apt that two of their best players this season scored last night.

And the third of their top players, Iliman Ndiaye, got the ball rolling after he cashed in on a lousy mistake from the Baggies.

Taylor Gardner-Hickman kept his guard down by not looking up as he attempted a 58th-minute backpass.


Ndiaye was on to it in a flash, left Semi Ajayi on his backside and squared for Berge to fire home from 12 yards.

Then as George Baldock struck a first-time volley from the edge of the box after a half-cleared corner, the ball was going miles wide.

That was until Swedish-born Bosnian defender Ahmedhodzic instinctively stuck out a boot to divert it into the net from six yards.

It caught West Brom right on the chin.

The Baggies now have a real fight on their hands to make the play-offs with this result leaving them two points off the top six with two games to go — at home to Norwich on Saturday before a tricky last-day trip to Swansea. Both are rivals to make the cut.

West Brom lacked that final punch last night.

They should have moved into a second-minute lead when Jed Wallace put the ball on a plate for Karlan Grant with a lovely cross.

But it bounced up slightly and Grant was in three minds whether to head, shoot or chest it.

He opted to stoop for a header but he did not make clean contact and the ball cleared the bar. He should have scored.

The Blades responded with Oli McBurnie’s low cross being cleared by Ajayi but the hosts kept the ball alive and Berge’s 25-yard thumping effort flew just over.

West Brom were denied a stonewall penalty by referee Dean Whitestone.

Anel Ahmedhodzic bagged the Blades' second and crucial goal against the Baggies


Anel Ahmedhodzic bagged the Blades’ second and crucial goal against the BaggiesCredit: GETTY

Max Lowe clearly clipped the heels of Brandon Thomas-Asante inside the box — yet Whitestone and his officials’ eyesight failed them and a free-kick was awarded.

The Baggies almost scored from it as a short-pass training ground routine found Wallace in space on the edge of the box but his curling shot was pushed away by keeper Wes Foderingham.

Whitestone correctly waved away Albion’s penalty protests after Conor Townsend went tumbling inside the box. There was zero contact.

It took United 27 minutes to register their first meaningful effort on target when Jack Robinson had a dig from just inside the box but it was well held by Alex Palmer.

The visitors kept pouring forward and Wallace’s cross was met by an acrobatic overhead volley from Gardner-Hickman but Foderingham was equal to it.

Townsend dropped a clanger by gifting the ball to Baldock with an awful pass but Palmer was there to save the day for the Baggies by keeping out the 18-yard strike.

Whitestone waved away a United penalty appeal when James McAtee drew a challenge from Wallace even though the ball was going out.

United got their noses in front thanks to Gardner-Hickman’s error.

Whitestone was not endearing himself to either team and McBurnie was fuming after he was pushed over at the back post by Darnell Furlong as he attempted to get his head on a Berge cross.

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Blades fans thought they had the decisive second when John Egan’s downward header flew inches wide of the right post.

But then came the final blow — delivered beautifully by Ahmedhodzic — and the Blades are back in the big time.

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