Championship
Middlesbrough1Brighton1

Middlesbrough 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Cristhian Stuani
Cristhian Stuani's first-half tap-in put Middlesbrough in the driving seat against Brighton

Middlesbrough ended their seven-year Premier League absence by drawing a tense and nervy Championship promotion decider against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Riverside.

Both sides began the game knowing that victory would see them join champions Burnley in the top flight next season, though a draw was enough for Boro to pip the Seagulls to second place on goal difference.

Cristhian Stuani's goal, from Gaston Ramirez's superb free-kick and David Nugent's touch across, put the hosts on their way in the first half.

Another free-kick led to Dale Stephens' equaliser, heading across goal at the back post after Brighton had begun the second period in full flow.

But Stephens was then dismissed for a foul on Ramirez - and Boro made the man advantage count to retain the scoreline for the rest of the game, including eight minutes of added time.

The point worth £170m

Middlesbrough fans
Middlesbrough fans invaded the Riverside pitch at the end of the game to celebrate promotion

There was no end-of-season sunshine for the packed crowd at the Riverside, as a chilly, murky day greeted the two teams at kick-off - thank goodness then for the red-hot atmosphere in the ground.

Boro struck through Stuani and then soaked up Brighton's attempts and threatened on the break, with Uruguay international Ramirez hugely influential before he was withdrawn on a stretcher with a serious-looking leg injury.

Stuani, a compatriot of the Southampton loanee, could have had a hat-trick but saw a half-volley deflected over the top and then wasted a fine chance.

The Seagulls showed glimpses of their threat in the opening 45 minutes but playmaker Beram Kayal was kept quiet and their forward line was well marshalled, in particular by Daniel Ayala.

The visitors emerged with more potency after the break and Stephens' header gave them hope, before the midfielder was then sent off for a fierce tackle on Ramirez just four minutes later.

Boro lacked composure without their playmaker and Brighton, desperate for a goal, created spells of pressure but again Ayala, Ben Gibson and George Friend made big interventions.

Albert Adomah struck his point-blank shot at David Stockdale as Boro sought the goal to make sure, but it did not matter in the end as the whistle blew to spark scenes of celebration and relief at the end of a sapping, absorbing game.

Gibson's gamble pays off

Cristhian Stuani
Stuani celebrates the goal that sent Boro on their way to promotion back to the Premier League

The decision by chairman Steve Gibson to invest in playing staff for head coach Aitor Karanka was justified as two of the imports he helped finance came to the fore in Stuani and Ramirez.

It was Gibson's intervention 30 years ago that scraped the club off the canvas with extinction looming and his name was sung lustily by supporters before and during the game.

He oversaw the 2004 League Cup win at Cardiff and the run to the Uefa Cup final two years later, but few afternoons at the Riverside will have been as significant as this one.

Premier League money, a minimum of £170m, will prove hugely beneficial to a club that have faced tough economic times in their transition to the Championship.

What next for Albion?

Brighton supporters
Brighton will now face Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs, with the first leg at Hillsborough on Friday, 13 May

It was always going to be tough to turn up and win on Teesside, where only Bristol City and Nottingham Forest had triumphed in the league this season.

However, Brighton still have another chance against Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs - albeit without Stephens, who will serve a suspension for his red card.

The Seagulls, like their opponents, know the misery of play-off defeat well having been dumped out by rivals Crystal Palace three seasons ago, and then again by Derby the following season.

It will need to be third time lucky if they are to end their 33-year exile from the top flight.

We've got a new BBC Sport newsletter coming soon - to receive it from the start, sign up here.

Line-ups

Middlesbrough

  • 1Konstantopoulos
  • 24Nsue
  • 4Ayala
  • 6Gibson
  • 3Friend
  • 8Clayton
  • 7Leadbitter
  • 18Stuani
  • 21RamírezSubstituted forDowningat 63'minutes
  • 27Adomah
  • 35NugentSubstituted forRhodesat 80'minutes

Substitutes

  • 5de Laet
  • 9Rhodes
  • 16de Sart
  • 19Downing
  • 25Agazzi
  • 26Kalas
  • 34Forshaw

Brighton

  • 13Stockdale
  • 2BrunoBooked at 90mins
  • 17GoldsonBooked at 90mins
  • 3GreerSubstituted forLua Luaat 82'minutes
  • 23Rosenior
  • 27KnockaertBooked at 23mins
  • 6StephensBooked at 59mins
  • 7Kayal
  • 15MurphySubstituted forSidwellat 64'minutes
  • 10Hemed
  • 9BaldockSubstituted forWilsonat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Mäenpää
  • 12Bong
  • 14Calderon
  • 21Wilson
  • 30Lua Lua
  • 36Sidwell
  • 38Skalak
Referee:
Mike Dean
Attendance:
33,806

Match Stats

Home TeamMiddlesbroughAway TeamBrighton
Possession
Home38%
Away62%
Shots
Home13
Away7
Shots on Target
Home5
Away1
Corners
Home4
Away4
Fouls
Home13
Away16

Live Text

Match ends, Middlesbrough 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

Booking

Bruno (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card.

Booking

Connor Goldson (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card.

Attempt missed. Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Stewart Downing.

Foul by Tomer Hemed (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Middlesbrough. Stewart Downing tries a through ball, but George Friend is caught offside.

Foul by Bruno (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Tomer Hemed (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right is saved in the top right corner.

Foul by Kazenga Lua Lua (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Beram Kayal (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).

Attempt saved. Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Attempt blocked. Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cristhian Stuani.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Dimitrios Konstantopoulos (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.

Attempt blocked. James Wilson (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Anthony Knockaert.

Foul by Connor Goldson (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Jordan Rhodes (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Kazenga Lua Lua replaces Gordon Greer.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Jordan Rhodes replaces David Nugent.

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Ben Gibson.

Attempt missed. Steve Sidwell (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Bruno.

Foul by Liam Rosenior (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Tomer Hemed (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt blocked. Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by George Friend.

Foul by Anthony Knockaert (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Steve Sidwell replaces Jamie Murphy.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Stewart Downing replaces Gastón Ramírez because of an injury.

Delay in match Gastón Ramírez (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.

Dismissal

Dale Stephens (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the red card.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Burnley462615572353793
2Middlesbrough462611963313289
3Brighton462417572423089
4Hull4624111169353483
5Derby4621151066432378
6Sheff Wed4619171066452174
7Ipswich461815135351269
8Cardiff461717125651568
9Brentford46198197267565
10Birmingham461615155349463
11Preston461517144545062
12QPR461418145454060
13Leeds461417155058-859
14Wolves461416165358-558
15Blackburn461316174646055
16Nottm Forest461316174347-455
17Reading461313205259-752
18Bristol City461313205471-1752
19Huddersfield461312215970-1151
20Fulham461215196679-1351
21Rotherham461310235371-1849
22Charlton46913244080-4040
23MK Dons46912253969-3039
24Bolton46515264181-4030
View full Championship table

Top Stories