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Championship wrap: Promotion race intensifies

Leeds United v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship

LEEDS, ENGLAND - APRIL 19: Patrick Bamford of Leeds United and Reece James of Wigan Athletic compete for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship between Leeds United and Wigan Athletic at Elland Road on April 19, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

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As always, things got weird and wild in England’s second-tier on Friday.

Leeds United lost at home to 10-man relegation battlers Wigan Athletic 2-1, despite taking the lead early and Wigan playing a man down for over 75 minutes.

Pablo Hernandez missed an early penalty kick for Marcelo Bielsa’s side who have now dropped out of the automatic promotion spots with three games of the season to go and no longer have their destiny in their own hands. This defeat marked the first time this season that Leeds have lost a game after taking the lead.

As for their main rivals for automatic promotion, Sheffield United rallied in the second half to beat Nottingham Forest on Friday and moved into second behind Norwich City as Blades boss Chris Wilder has done a magnificent job for the club he supports.

Norwich look certainties for promotion and their return to the PL after a three-year absence could be confirmed on Monday, while Sheffield United know they will be back in the Premier League for the first time since 2007 if they win their final three games of the season.

In the playoff race, West Brom, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough all won to sit in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, while Bristol City and Derby are hanging around just outside the playoff spots with draws to set up a frantic final few weeks. There are some huge teams pushing to be in the playoffs and have a chance of playing in the richest game in soccer at Wembley on May 27, and Villa are the form team right now with nine-straight wins.

At the other end of the table, Bolton’s defeat at home to Villa means they were relegated to the third-tier and they will join Ipswich Town in League One for next season, while Rotherham and Millwall battle to stay out of the final relegation spot.

Below is a look at the standings and points in the promotion race, as the battle to get into the Premier League for the 2019-20 rages on.

As things stand - Championship table, promotion race

Automatic promotion
1st: Norwich City - Played 42, points 86
2nd: Sheffield United - Played 43, points 82

Playoff picture
3rd: Leeds United - Played 43, points 82
4th: West Brom - Played 43, points 76
5th: Aston Villa - Played 43, points 72
6th: Middlesbrough - Played 43, points 67

Pushing for playoffs
7th: Bristol City - Played 42, points 66
8th: Derby County - Played 42, points 64

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